By Iris Moore
MS Broadcast Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication
At Boston University’s College of Communication (COM), the beginning of a new semester also means the start to another year filled with exciting events for faculty and staff. Yes, it is important to get your schedule right and books bought, but it’s also important you are made aware of the once-a-year, beneficial networking events happening right now.
This Thursday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m., the College of Communication (COM) is hosting the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards at the School of Management. The event, which is free and open to the public, will honor some of COM’s most accomplished alumni. Previous alumni recipients who have attended the event include: – Co-Host of Market Place Morning Report and American Public Media, Jeremy C. Hobson (‘04) – White House Photographer, Peter J. Souza (’76), – Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Development & Talent, Andy Cohen (’90). The list goes on. If you have time, check it out here.
This year, you may even be lucky enough to meet the BU COM alum who is making more than just movies, but medical history too. One of the four COM alums being honored at this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards is filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser (CAS’96, COM’07), who lost both his arms and legs to a deadly bacteria, three years ago.
Lautzenheiser completed his undergraduate studies at BU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Eventually, in 2005, he made the decision to return to BU for graduate school at the College of Communication. Lautzenheiser extended his stay at BU when he became a lecturer at COM in the fall of 2007. During this time, he produced and directed the short film Just Like It Was, which won a CINE Golden Eagle Award.
In the spring of 2011, Lautzenheiser left BU for a teaching job at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Ten days after his move, Lautzenheiser’s fight for his life began. While doctors struggled to diagnose Lautzenheiser, his organs began to shut down. Eventually, he was diagnosed with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, a bacteria that causes vital organs to shut down and infection that quickly kills muscle, skin, and underlying tissue. Lautzenheiser underwent 16 surgeries that removed both of his arms and legs.
This past June, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) approved Lautzenheiser for a bilateral arm transplant, a procedure that has been performed only a few times in the United States.
In an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now, Lautzenheiser talked about how he has been able to use stand-up comedy to help with the healing process. He has been able to use his incredible journey from over the past three years as material for his shows.
Lautzenheiser just completed writing and starring in the short-documentary, Stumped. Directed by Robin Berghaus, the film is about Lautzenheiser’s survival and rehabilitation as a quadrilateral amputee. It has been shown at multiple film festivals across the country and has received multiple awards, including “Best of the Fest” for audience’s favorite documentary at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. On November 6th, Emerson College will be airing Stumped at their Bright Light Series, as well as hosting a comedy set and Q&A with Lautzenheiser.
To learn more about Lautzenheiser’s story before seeing him on Thursday at BU COM’s Distinguished Alumni Event, check out these videos by BU Today producers Joe Chan and Robin Berghaus.
If you would like to make a donation to help Will on his road to recovery, please visit the Will Lautzenheiser Fund.
2 thoughts on “Quad amputee and filmmaker: Will Lautzenheiser to be honored at Distinguished Alumni Awards”
Another very moving an excellent article written by Iris Moore!
Thank you, Charlotte. We wish you were in Boston, so you could attend the event. I’m sure it will be nothing less than inspiring.