Honoring Bobby Makar: A Lasting Impact in Digital Media Production
Kent State Media and Journalism alumnus Bobby Makar was a passionate filmmaker and adjunct instructor who encouraged his students and helped them develop their work every step of the way. He died unexpectedly last year at the age of 35, and a Digital Media Production scholarship has now been established in his honor.
The impact Makar had on the Digital Media Production (DMP) major is evident in conversations with colleagues and former students of his.
They preach of his passion toward the filmmaking profession, the uniqueness of his personality and his overwhelming willingness to help students. He was a strong advocate for including film education within the DMP major and throughout the School of Media and Journalism. Assistant Professor Scott Hallgren says Makar was a voice for students who also found a calling in the filmmaking industry.
“Bobby was absolutely the sort of rebellious spirit who showed up in Vans or Chuck Taylors, dressed in all black, and he was really kind of the soul of all these (DMP) developments within the School,” Hallgren said.
After graduating from Kent State with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Makar taught as an adjunct instructor in the School of Media and Journalism for about six years. Hallgren says he would walk into the first day of class and ask his students something like, “Who wants to talk about movies?”
“Bobby knew how to relate to young people trying to find their place in an often-dizzying creative field,” his former student and alumnus Michael Indriolo, ‘20, said. “And he did so sincerely and honestly, without turning his nose up at us.”
Shortly after his unexpected death in November 2020, Media and Journalism faculty, retired faculty, friends and family established a memorial scholarship in his honor. The Bobby Makar Memorial Scholarship is the first scholarship within the School of Media and Journalism that will be offered exclusively to Digital Media Production students, which has been the School’s fastest-growing major in recent years. More than half of the $25,000 needed to fund it has been collected since it was started five months ago.
“I’m hoping that we’ll fully fund that, and that we’ll be able to continue his legacy by awarding it to a person who encapsulates his spirit, and we certainly see people like that here,” Hallgren said.
Hallgren had described Makar as the “cheerful glue” that helped a lot of students stick to what they were passionate about and go beyond the spectrum of just broadcast reporting in DMP.
“He reminded us that while you have to put in the work, your stories and production can only thrive if you enjoy what you’re doing and don’t get stuck in those traps of ‘catering’ or ‘being 100 percent original,’” said Maia Bankhead, ‘21, one of Makar’s former students.
Makar’s impact isn’t only seen in his past students and their professions, but throughout the DMP curriculum as well within film-based courses and extracurricular activities in the School.
“Let's hope that we’ll continue funding that kind of adventurous, independent spirit that we see and do it in a way that remembers a kid who came from Streetsboro, Ohio, and made so many things about this place change just because of his own ambitions and love of film and music,” Hallgren said.