The Kids Are Alright

By FSM Communications

Free Spirit Media highly values the process of exploration that guides young people towards bright futures. FSM demonstrates this by building strong relationships with youth to provide a continuum of support long after they graduate high school. As such, we are proud to share a few of their stories with you.

 Montel WIlliams and Paris Brown, FSM alums, with Chaz Ebert and FSM Founder, Jeff McCarter

Montel WIlliams and Paris Brown, FSM alums, with Chaz Ebert and FSM Founder, Jeff McCarter

Continuous learning—whether in the workplace or lecture hall—is critical for self development. Two FSM alums, Paris Brown and Montel Williams are heavily involved in Chicago’s media industry due to their hard work and FSM’s career mentorship.Paris points to production as her specialty, “I think about the whole picture in terms of the next thing that needs to happen to make the project run.” Montel adds, “I’ve been involved with FSM for almost 6 years, I’ve always had an eye for filmmaking and media.” Paris and Montel are currently working on Transformers 4. Montel has also created his own media company— S.L.A.T.E. House Productions, and works on Chicago Fire.

Both Paris and Montel credit their preparation for these opportunities to life skills imparted to them through FSM. Paris notes, “the hardest thing for me to learn was taking criticism. At the time I didn’t realize that staff was trying to help me.” Similarly, Montel came to understand that prioritizing was key to achieving his goals, “there was a time when I was slacking off and couldn’t participate in FSM. I learned that I have to take care of responsibilities outside of my interests. Education is important and FSM values that.”

 FSM alum, Bianca Renteria, a freshman at St. Olaf's College

FSM alum, Bianca Renteria, a freshman at St. Olaf's College

Other FSM alums, like Bianca Reneria and Brandon Hummons, have carried what they learned from FSM into the realm of higher education. “FSM really did change my life”, explains Bianca, former president of the FSM Youth Council and current freshman at St. Olaf’s College, studying political science. “It really gave me confidence in how I express myself in all my classes, whether they relate to media or not.” When asked about longterm goals, Bianca shared that she plans to attend graduate school and is considering law school. Looking back she reflects, “FSM is one of those programs that’s hard to come by, it’s under appreciated. More programs should be like FSM because the staff actually cares.”

Brandon, an alumnus of Denison University and Posse Scholarship recipient, brought the FSM experience to campus. He started a student group focused on the production of visual art and media to fill the void of production opportunities. “Before I graduated in May, I worked to get the budget for a recording studio approved for the group in order to share my hands on experiences in high school with my peers.” Brandon currently works for Allstate Insurance, but wants to start a multimedia production company to support new artists on a budget, stating, “FSM gives you the inspiration to pursue what you want to do."