LATROBE — On May 3, St. Vincent College senior Ian Herzing debuted his documentary “Being Our B.E.S.T.” in front of a standing room only crowd that filled a Prep Hall classroom.
A communication major from St. Marys (Elk County Catholic High School), Herzing dedicated his entire final semester at St. Vincent to creating the documentary as an independent study project under David Safin, assistant professor of communication. The video offers an in-depth look at the Bearcat B.E.S.T. (Building Education through Skills Training) program at the college, which aims to develop independent living for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The video includes interviews conducted with Bearcat B.E.S.T. students, their parents and instructors, as well as candid footage of the students on campus, in the classroom and in on-the-job training.
Herzing captured the B.E.S.T. students in a number of different settings, including the classroom, eating in the cafeteria, training and working at their various jobs and even working out in the fitness center. Through it all, he was struck by the students’ cooperation and their ease in front of the camera.
“The students were unbelievably easy to work with,” Herzing recounted. “It was like I was just one of their friends who picked up a camera and decided to make a little movie about them, and that’s how it really felt.”
Herzing was also impressed with the thoughtfulness and eloquence of the students in their interviews, saying “Their responses to the questions were just top-notch. They handled being interviewed with impeccable professionalism.”
The culmination of Herzing’s work was the film’s May 3 debut in front of a Prep Hall classroom filled with Bearcat B.E.S.T. students, parents and staff, as well as Herzing’s classmates and a myriad faculty and other St. Vincent employees. The audience was enthralled with the film, and upon its completion, treated Herzing to a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
To learn more about the Bearcat B.E.S.T. program, visit https://www.stvincent.edu/community-events/outreach-programs/bearcat-best-program