Virginia Tech senior Tim Leaton earned the top prize in the widely acclaimed Film Your Issue (FYI) competition – an eight-week paid internship at Disney Studios in Los Angeles. Leaton’s one-minute film, "Orphans in Africa," won the nationwide contest, an initiative to encourage young Americans, age 18 to 26, to engage in social issues and add their voices to the public dialogue.

A communication/business dual major, Leaton will begin his west coast work on Monday, both on film sets and in the editing suites. “Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause,” starring Tim Allen, is one of the editing projects on Leaton’s summer docket, as well as a film-shoot on Roy Disney’s yacht.

Leaton went to New York City over the weekend, where his winning project was shown at the United Nations on Monday. In front of a crowd of close to 300 people, Leaton was introduced by Mr. Craig Moon, the President of USA Today. Leaton also met Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn and broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff. The event was held in the Delegates Dining Room with a panoramic view of the city. Leaton’s film will also be reviewed at Sundance in January.

In the FYI competition, hundreds of entries were narrowed down to 35. The top five winners of the competition were determined by a 50-50 public-jury vote. The public cast their votes online, which drew a record 88,638 responses; the jury included George Clooney, Walter Cronkite, the Dali Lama, and Brian Williams, among others. Receiving 13 percent of all online voting, the second-highest vote-getter, Leaton's winning entry is a shortened version of a longer film he made while in Uganda as part of his church's mission team.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The College nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management; Communication; English; Foreign Languages & Literatures; History; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; ROTC; Science and Technology in Society; Sociology; Theatre Arts; and the School of Education.

Photo courtesy of Robert Braunfeld

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