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In less than a year, Hola Columbus has become one of the hottest websites for Hispanic culture in the capital city. And it started in a Columbus State classroom.
The site began as an assignment in COMM 241 (News Writing and Editing). Instructor Bob Stein asked students to design a website for a niche, and student Jennifer Wilson identified Hispanic life and culture.
"I couldn't really find out when things were happening," says Wilson, 25.
That was in Autumn Quarter 2011. Since then, the new site has become a go-to hub for Latin nights, Hispanic restaurants and arts in Columbus. It's gained around a thousand Facebook fans and friends, and nightclubs and restaurants are contacting her to publicize their events. Park Street Complex threw Hola Columbus a launch party in March, and Wilson is teaming up with a photographer and a graphic designer for Hola Columbus Magazine.
"I wouldn't have been able to do this without the support of Columbus State and the kindness, knowledge and direction from my instructor Bob Stein," Wilson says.
Along the way, she's gotten to interview some of the top names in entertainment as they come through Columbus. Two favorites were comedian Gabriel Iglesias, reggaeton artist Tony Dize and club singer Erika Jayne.
Wilson's father is an American who met her mother in Bolivia while serving the Peace Corps. Wilson was born in Bolivia, then the family moved to the U.S. when she was 16. She lives in Upper Arlington.
She's planning to transfer to Otterbein University this summer to study Public Relations and Communication. Many of her Columbus State credits will transfer to Otterbein, which she says allowed her to save money. She may pick up more classes from Columbus State even while she's at the four-year school.
In the meantime, Hola Columbus has attracted advertisers, and Wilson's been able to use it to help put herself through school. And she's adding a number of fun features, such as ¿Sabias Que? (Did you know?) and Moda y Belleza (Fashion & Beauty).
"It's never going to be really finished, because I'm always going to want to add to it," Wilson says.