Behind the Scenes of The College Tour

WNE to Make its Amazon Prime Video Debut in Streaming Series

WNE is going big in sharing its value with the world—and is headed to Amazon Prime Video through a featured episode of The College Tour, a series that allows high school students to “visit” college campuses across the country and learn about them through the lens of current students.

But how did WNE, out of the thousands of colleges and universities across the country, get this incredible platform to share who we are and what we do?

Members of the administration discovered an episode of The College Tour featuring a public university in a neighboring state and knew WNE had to get in on the action. They pitched the idea to President Robert E. Johnson, who told the team to run with it.

“I don’t know how to whisper,” jokes Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communication Mercedes Maskalik about her promotional style. “President Johnson gave us the green light to spread our story and reach the masses. If the goal is to reach people who haven’t heard of us, The College Tour was an obvious choice. We wanted to go big.”

And WNE did go big—by landing a slot in the seventh season of the series. Not only will the University’s episode be the first of the season, but WNE is also the first college in Massachusetts to be featured.

The Making of Our Episode

Once WNE was chosen to be on The College Tour, it was full steam ahead with casting students, scriptwriting, location scouting, and making a game plan. The entire pre-production process took about four weeks and included meetings with The College Tour and WNE’s Marketing team, parsing out our story into 10 individual segments, soliciting and reviewing auditions, and mapping out the overall feel of our tour.

The College Tour’s production team descended on WNE’s campus with cameras, microphones, lighting, and even a drone to capture our community from all angles. The weeklong shoot in July required the University Marketing team, three production carts, and plenty of help to keep the process running smoothly. The Golden Bear community really came together to make it all happen. From volunteering as extras in various scenes, to unlocking classrooms and keeping the production crew fed, our community did anything and everything they could to help make the shoot a success. And we mean anything—shoot director Daren Woolsey even donned the Golden Bear mascot costume for filming and entertained a large group of campers from the University’s summer soccer clinic.

Before we knew it, the film crew was off to its next shoot, and WNE was in the post-production process, where we received drafts of our episode and collaborated with the editing team to craft the final iteration.

Set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video in March 2023, WNE and The College Tour will soon be coming to a screen near you!

Making TV Magic on College Campuses

“Welcome to Western New England University! This is The College Tour.”

Host Alex Boylan, a Massachusetts native, welcomes the audience with the promise of an exciting adventure, as upbeat music synchronizes with drone footage and sweeping shots of WNE’s 215-acre campus. As the episode kicks off, Alex mentions how special our New Traditional University is, and the contagious Golden Bear Spirit that is evident everywhere you go.

He sets the tone for the entire episode with enthusiasm, charm, and excitement —a must when your job is to help high school students consider their options.

Alex, who won the second season of The Amazing Race, came up with the idea of The College Tour as his niece was looking at colleges herself. He realized the challenges that many families face in terms of having the time and resources to visit a variety of schools that their children are considering, and that there might be a way to ease that burden.

“Seeing my niece struggle to afford to tour colleges in person ignited something in me,” says Alex. “It made me realize that there can be a better way to give access to people. The College Tour is truly special because it levels the playing field, and there is so much love that goes into making each episode, because we really understand how important this show is for so many students.”

As fate would have it, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred during The College Tour’s infancy, creating even more of a critical need.

Having visited dozens of colleges and universities, Alex says that visiting WNE in his home state was a special experience for him.

“I’ve traveled the world, filmed in over 60 countries, but Massachusetts will always be my home,” he says. “The architecture and scenery of WNE just brings me back to my roots. I was blown away by the sense of community on campus. WNE has such an amazing energy and the resources that it affords its students were just incredible to see.”

Meet Our Student Ambassadors for The College Tour

We couldn’t have The College Tour without the unique perspective and stories of our students— who are the reason for everything we do at WNE. Here are the stars of our show!

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Richard Amoako

Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Springfield, MA

“Pursuing a doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Western New England University has been the perfect choice for me because I feel connected to campus through both academics and social life, and am growing as a professional and healthcare leader each day. I have learned to work hard in the classroom and enjoy the journey while pursuing my dream.”

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Sam Blau

Marketing Communication/Advertising
Pittsfield, MA

“WNE is a place where creativity and learning agility is valued. I am able to customize my academic experience and indulge in my creativity while learning about entertainment and business from behind the curtain. Because WNE empowers me to pursue my passions and customize my education, I know I will have many more of these opportunities!”

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Dominick Buccitti '22

Graduate Student
MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Milford, CT

“I started out with aspirations of being a hospital pharmacist. But I discovered that pharmaceutical research was much more aligned with my goals and interests. WNE gave me the flexibility and support to easily change my major from Pharmacy to Health Sciences with a minor in Chemistry, so that I could build the academic foundation to confidently enter a master’s program.” 

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MaryKate Caron

Marketing Communication/Advertising
Wilbraham, MA

“WNE encourages us to embrace change and discover new opportunities in our field of study. I recently completed a successful internship at a digital marketing agency. It went so well that they created an entirely new position just for me, based on the unique skills I learned at WNE. I’ll now be working at the agency full-time as a Content Strategy Specialist—before I even graduate!”

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Adell Gadzey 

Information Technology
Colchester, VT

“I knew Western New England was the right place for me because, besides the academics, they had the organizations and events that helped me feel like I belong. This community recognizes the complexities of our identities and makes space for everyone to show up as their full selves. WNE will definitely make you feel like you belong, too.” 

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Miranda Holhut

Hatfield, MA

“One of my favorite parts of the college experience is WNE’s amazing campus life that makes everyone feel part of the action. I was inspired to become a resident advisor to help create an inclusive and safe space for residents that encourages them to make the most of their life at WNE!” 

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Emily Kowal

Biomedical Engineering
East Granby, CT

“The philosophy of the College of Engineering is ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Day One.’ That fundamental mindset has helped me excel in engineering and at WNE. This summer, I am interning with a local medical device company. I can truly say that my education has made me fully prepared for this opportunity.”

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Allie Provost 

Dudley, MA

“Finding your place in the world is a major component of the WNE experience. Our Study Abroad program is WAY more than an excursion…it’s a transformative experience that crosses disciplines, cultures, and borders. You’ll expand your worldview and increase your understanding of our global society—it is truly life-changing!”

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Patrick Riley 

Political Science
Thomaston, CT

“Western New England’s support system and engagement has laid the foundation for my success on campus and beyond. Our open and welcoming community has allowed me to break out of my comfort zone; discover my talents; help students grow academically, socially, and personally; and create memorable experiences and friendships.” 

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Aditya Shah 

Finance and Business Analytics and Information Management
Gujarat, India

“Joining an American university from India was definitely out of my comfort zone. But WNE prepares graduates to adapt and thrive, and has positioned me well to achieve my personal and professional goals—which include being an analyst at a hedge fund or investment bank, and someday running my own hedge fund.”