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Rafael Bitanga returns to Kodiak to offer film camp for students

Rafael Bitanga’s journey has taken him far from Kodiak, but it can’t keep him from Kodiak. The Cornell University student and multimedia extraordinaire is coming back to put his talents to work for other aspiring college graduates- for free.

He’s currently pitching a summer program designed to help students reach scholarships by way of video storytelling.

“I’ll be coming back to Kodiak this summer. And I’ll be teaching film workshop for students, ages 16 to 21. With the hopes that the video that they’ll be creating, which is a two-minute video, could be used to enter to scholarships, as well as college applications. But specifically, this workshop is focusing towards this scholarship called Live Mas Scholarship, which- I’ve applied to that scholarship twice now, and I have gotten $10,000 both times. It’s a fairly easy scholarship because it only is focused on passion, solely passion, not on academics, not even community service, or any of those types of things,” Bitanga said.

His program works in two parts: a mentorship program in which he and other Kodiak High School alumni help students with the applications process, and then regular meetings to help students produce their own short videos for use in scholarship applications.

“This is a way for me to connect students with students that are already experiencing the college experience. This will allow students in the class to gain an understanding of what it’s like to be a college student, what it’s like to apply to colleges. And for some, they may even receive somebody who’s going to graduate school already or who has already graduated. This will then, I hope, create a network for these students to build beyond the island and somebody that could be a point of contact for them,” Bitanga said.

Of course, making a serious movie demands serious equipment. And Bitanga provides.

“At the moment, I’ve been very fortunate with the scholarships that I’ve received from the past, to have been able to buy several computers that we’ll be able to utilize. I have a limited amount of equipment that I’ll be allowing the students to use, professional equipment- I want students to really experience what it’s like to put together a film that they’re going to be proud of,” Bitanga said.

The program is slated to begin June 21st and runs through July 30th, meeting Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. There are 20 slots for the program, all of which are free.

Editor’s note: as an update to this story, Rafael Bitanga has found a local meeting location at the Kodiak Public Library. An earlier version of this story referred to Bitanga’s search for the meeting location as “ongoing.”

Those interested can reach Bitanga at