The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Prom with an animation twist: The 50/50 Club hosts Prom Jam event

Yu Yu Blue

Lucy Njaramba’s senior prom was an excuse to dress up and show off after Covid-19 in 2022. Her dress was a vibrant shade of purple, a family member did her makeup and her hair was adorned with butterfly clips. 

While the recently lifted pandemic restrictions meant fewer students attended, Njaramba could barely tell from the glamorous decorations, packed photo booth and music blasting from the DJ. Beyond that, she felt confident — a feeling Njaramba wants other students to have at Prom Jam. 

The 50/50 Club, a branch of the Women in Animation Student Collective at DePaul, will host Prom Jam March 1. The first-of-its-kind event advertises the traditional details of a prom — a suggested prom attire dress code, music, a Polaroid photo booth and plenty of food — with an animation spin. 

Njaramba, now a sophomore and secretary of the 50/50 club, said bringing the high energy associated with animation jams was just as important as the prom theme. Animation jams are community-building events where artists challenge themselves to create an animation within a set amount of time. For Prom Jam, the event will be from 5 p.m to 10 p.m..

“I want people to feel empowered and have fun,” Njaramba said. “Most importantly, I want them to make cool stuff for the animation jam.”

Attendees are encouraged to create 1-3 second animation loops that will be screened at the club’s end-of-the-year showcase. The loops will be played in between longer-form senior projects to showcase talent across grade levels in the animation program.

The 50/50 club executive board members, from left, Stephanie Posey, Jessica Correa, Lucy Njaramba and Yú Yú Blue discuss the upcoming Prom Jam at their meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at DePaul. The executive board members have been planning Prom Jam for the past year. (Photo provided by Yú Yú Blue)

“The animation loops means someone who is new to animation can look at their stuff on the big screen at the end of the year and think ‘I made that,’” said Stephanie Posey, freshman and treasurer of the 50/50 club. “I am that person right now who’s new to the animation world.”

The executive board members worked on the event for nearly a year after seniors in the club expressed interest in putting on a prom to regain the experience they lost in high school from Covid-19. 

Ariana Kanchuger, senior and member of the 50/50 Club, said she cannot even remember what her high school did to make up for the prom she lost to the pandemic in 2020. Four years later, Kanchuger is now ready to dress up and see how her passion for animation can be creatively mixed into a traditional prom. Even her parents are excited about the event, looking forward to their daughter’s prom photos they missed out on. 

“This is a great opportunity to combine those traditions and rites of passage from highschool with the friends I’ve made here at DePaul who may not have had those experiences either,” Kanchuger said. 

Women in Animation is a non-profit advocacy group that supports and promotes underrepresented gender identities in the animation industry. The 50/50 club, as a student sect of the larger organization, upholds these values by hosting events geared toward career readiness, like portfolio reviews, student-led workshops and guest speakers. 

For Kanchuger, Prom Jam is still a way for the club to encourage industry equality through networking in a more relaxed social setting. She said events like these bring the DePaul animation community together and facilitate industry connection through friendship.

Members of the 50/50 club, along with the DePaul animation Lodge and the Asian Cultural Exchange, attend a screening of “My Neighbor Totoro” on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at DePaul. The 50/50 club’s newest event is Prom Jam, a prom-themed animation jam happening on March 1, 2024. (Photo provided by Yú Yú Blue)

“It’s about forming those friendships that will then carry you through your entire career,” Kanchuger said. 

The 50/50 club was founded at DePaul last year. Jessica Correa, sophomore and vice president of the club, said Prom Jam is a chance to grow the club’s membership and create new events based on student interest rather than club tradition. 

“We want students who are proud to say they’re part of the 50/50 club or have attended one of our events,” Correa said. “Hearing that always makes our day.” 

Posey said her prom was not affected by Covid-19 but is still looking forward to something bigger and better than she experienced. Growing up in an area of Tennessee where she said being different was socially unacceptable, Posey said Prom Jam will be a more diverse and accepting version of the high school dance she had. 

“I’m just excited for people to be themselves and feel safe being themselves,” Posey said. 

Correa hopes the event shows students that animation — and animation events — are not always daunting. They said that working on an event combining two concepts turns a networking opportunity into something fun and accessible for students. 

“There’s always opportunities to think outside the box,” Correa said. “If we can have two completely separate things become one idea, I think the event will be successful.”

Correa, along with other executive board members, hopes Prom Jam becomes an annual event that offers the animation community at DePaul another big celebration to look forward to. 

“I’m ready to dance, or animate, the night away,” Kanchuger said.

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