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Alum Earns Second Emmy

November 9, 2011

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Heartland Chapter includes Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. McGahan received an Emmy Award and the "Rookie of the Year" Award at the 2010 Heartland Regional Emmy Awards.

In addition to McGahan's 2011 NATAS Heartland Regional Emmy for Cultural Documentary award as a producer, the show was awarded a 2011 National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) award for Content Production: Information for "Science of Composing," a national award for PBS productions.

McGahan has remained a key operative for the Oklahoma Public Broadcasting Service affiliate (OETA) documentary series, "State of Creativity," transitioning in 2010 from program editor to producer. Her recent Emmy awarded her production of "The Science of Composing."

"It's awesome to be recognized in your field with all the late nights editing and crazy shooting schedules, wondering for weeks if the angle you decided to take on the story is going to work," McGahan said. "I am truly blessed to be able to tell cool stories for a living.

"It takes a lot of people to do a documentary sometimes," McGahan noted, praising her team at OETA. "I couldn't have done it without an awesome crew."

Crediting OBU for her success, she esteemed her communication and media professors in particular, naming them as close friends who encouraged her and developed her ability to adapt to new experiences.

As technology changes, McGahan said, the media field must be able to adapt and change with it, a major concept she took from her OBU experience. She said she learned that no matter what situation she is in or what technology she has, telling a good story is key.

"At most larger schools, students get lost in the crowd, but at OBU, our professors would make sure we were getting the job done when it came to producing media like News30 and the Bison Sports Network," she said. "The communications department truly wants us to succeed."

McGahan noted one instance in which an OBU professor's words and actions deeply influenced her.

"I remember a research paper I was working on in 'Information Gathering and Research' class," McGahan recalled. "My professor was Dr. Ellis. I had an idea for a paper, but the man I needed to interview was in Missouri. I went into her office to break the news that I wouldn't be able to interview him in person. I was devastated.

"Dr. Ellis looked at me and said, 'Why not? Why can't you interview him? I'll even drive you up there!' I mean, how many professors go out of their way to help a student like that on a research paper? The professors care so much! She drove me all the way to Missouri to interview the man who wrote the book on the topic I was writing about."

McGahan also credits her family for their encouragement and support. McGahan's entire family attended OBU, including her parents, Sheryl (Means) Mitchell, a 1972 alum, and Randy Mitchell, a 1979 alum, and her siblings, Randa and Lindsay. McGahan met her husband, Micah McGahan, when "State of Creativity" did a documentary on Micah and his father, filming their glassblowing industry in Edmond, Okla.

McGahan asserted that regardless of the hard work, she takes everything in stride.

"[Dr. Ellis's] words have stuck with me," she said. "Especially when I face a story that I think is too big for me, I look back at Dr. Ellis's words and think, 'Why not?'"

For more information about McGahan's show, "State of Creativity," click here.