About the Film

College roommates & friends navigate a year of challenges, raw emotions, and unique successes inherent in a mentorship program that pairs students with and without intellectual disabilities in a campus environment.

Film poster: faded in the background is an image of Olivia, smiling on top of Kylie's shoulders, who is also smiling. Both are white college-aged females with glasses, blond hair, and wearing grey Syracuse University sweatshirts. Over the image (from top to bottom) is "Olivia Baist" and "Kylie Walter" (at the top), "a film by Kylie Walter" followed by the full film title (in the middle) and 4 film laurels with abbreviated credits (at the bottom).

SYNOPSIS: And They Were Roommates focuses on a pair of college roommates: Kylie (a junior studying Education) and Olivia (a freshman studying Studio Arts who identifies as an individual with a disability). Both new to their roles in Syracuse University's InclusiveU Residential Program, they discover that inclusive peer mentorship at the college level comes with a unique set of challenges, successes and emotions that no one prepared them for. Throughout the academic year, their video blogs (vlogs) expose the realities of inclusive mentorship from a student perspective. Interviews with eleven of their peers, fulfilling roles as both inclusive mentees and mentors, adds multiple perspectives to the college story.

​As a participatory and reflexive documentary, ​And They Were Roommates: Navigating Inclusive Mentorship in Higher Education ​provides thematic insight and counsel to the questions, thoughts, strategies, and triumphs that are uncovered when students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities work to foster mutually beneficial and sustainable mentor/mentee relationships as well as friendships.

SPECIFICATIONS:Runtime - 00:38:40​Project Budget - 1,258 (USD)Production - Oct. 2018 - Aug. 2019Post-Production - Aug. 2019 - May 2020Language - English, German subtitlesCountry  - United States of America (New York)​Film Type - Short Documentary Accessibility Features - Closed Captions, Audio Descriptions (English)
Headshot of Meghan. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Andrew. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Chloe. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Madii. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Dave. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Ashley. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Sally. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Rexy. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Laura. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Jon. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Matt. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Olivia. Frame from the film.


Headshot of Kylie. Frame from the film.


The Crew

Kylie, a white female with blond hair in a half messy bun, is smiling at the camera. She is wearing a black shirt in front of a wall of green leaves.

Kylie Walter 

Director, Editor, Videographer & Cast

Kylie (she/her/hers) was a junior at Syracuse University’s School of Education and Residential Mentor/roommate to Olivia during the production of And They Were Roommates. With no prior filmmaking experience or education, she relied on educational practices, YouTube editing tutorials, and feedback from (very patient) friends and professors to guide the creative process. Kylie enjoys running, dance,  podcasts, and has a newfound love for film. After making the film, she went on to teach in Boston.

Olivia, a white female in her late teens, is wearing an orange Syracuse University tshirt and jeans. She is posing and laughing on her dorm room bed, with an SU pillow and photographs decorating the wall behind her.

Olivia Baist

Videographer, Editor & Cast

Olivia (she/her/hers) identifies as a person with a disability and was a first-year student studying Studio Arts through Syracuse University's Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education during production. Olivia co-filmed ​And They Were Roommates, taking the lead for vlog-styled footage, and co-edited the short version of the film with no prior experience. Olivia loves dancing, painting, jewelry making, and participating in clubs on campus. After making the film, Olivia continued to thrive at Syracuse University and started mentoring other students.

Thank you:

This project would not have been possible without Olivia Baist. Her eagerness towards inclusive college life, creativity in using cinematography for communication, and goal of sharing the joint experience with future students is what sparked the production of this film.

Christy Ashby and Beth Myers served the advisor and reader for the university thesis portion of the project. Their continuous encouragement, conversations, critique, and advice are what encouraged this project to continue beyond its original intent.

To the community of people that made this all possible, we thank you.

Alexis ArmisteadAllison WhitlockAmie RedmondAndrew BenbenekAshley JandrewBeth MyersBrianna ShultsBud BuckhoutCleo HamiltonChloe PayneChrissy KudrewiczChristy AshbyDanielle MellottDanielle SmithDave Voron
Dee KatovitchElisa DiOdoardoEmma MauerFrankie RealeHannah HarrHarry DydoJenn QuinnJesse WalkerJoanna MasingilaJon RuizJulia RussoJustina FikertKaitlyn O'ReillyKaren HallKarly Grifasi
Laura McCallLaura PecoriLaura PickeringLauren WalterMaddie HolmesMadii GoldbergMaeghan HigginsMary Kate MengesMatthew SardinoMegan CartierMeghan BrozaitisMicah Fialka-FeldmanMichael GillMichael TuckerMichelle Sievers
Nancy WrightNaomi ShanguhyiaRexy VachereauRhea RoggieSally ShehatouSam RouxSyracuse Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative EngagementThe ELLC (2018-19)The Kelberman CenterThe Taishoff CenterTim Findlay

& so many more


The Renée Crown Honors Program provided funding for the majority of project costs and supplied advice that sparked new ideas from start to finish. The program's intersectional learning opportunities encouraged the content and impact of this project to dig deep and far. They also proved to be a consistent supporter in sharing this film with others and recognizing its significance. 

The School of Education at Syracuse University provided Kylie with a foundational understanding of educational practices and conscious advocacy for disability rights in addition to financially supporting this project. Their support and teachings provided necessary understandings that supported Kylie's role as a mentor and life-long learner. Many educational practices and philosophies were embedded in all aspects of the filmmaking process as well. If it was not for the professors that pushed Kylie, this project would likely have been a boring paper rather than a film.

The Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, and the InclusiveU program, introduced two life-long friends, Kylie and Olivia. The Taishoff Center and InclusiveU provided unmatched support throughout the entire filmmaking (and mentorship) process. Without their generosity, thoughtfulness, and dedication to inclusivity, this project simply would not have been possible. 

An artsy image of Lauren, lit by red and blue lights, highlighting the right side of her face. She looks down at the camera, posed with her jaw raised and a serious expression.


Lauren Walter makes a debut with their original, "Tomorrow", in the film. The song was exchanged for $1. Lauren is one of Kylie's fantastically cool siblings.

The film also features various Artlist artists: Paper Planes, Ziv Moran, Greg McKay, Low Light, Lance Conrad, Assaf Ayalon, LUMINAR, LiQWYD, Muted, Russo, Katrina Stone and Rex Banner. YouTube Music artist Ann Annie is also featured. 

And They Were Roommates (Short)

Two years after the original project's completion, Kylie and Olivia edited and released a shorter version of the film to reach a wider audience. This project contains some elements from the original film, with a shifted focus on the growth of their friendship. 


Ed Walter makes a debut with his original, "200 Beginnings" as the film's acoustic intro. The song was exchanged for $2. Ed is Kylie's cool dad.

The film also features various Artlist artists: Mina, LiQWYD, Muted, Russo, and Katrina Stone. 


This short film would not have been made if it was not for encouragement from several fabulous film festivals. Kylie and Olivia are incredibly thankful for the filmmakers that took them under their wing and for the festivals that not only share art but provided learning opportunities for artists. The team back at Syracuse University and all of Kylie and Olivia's friends and family continued to be massive supports, two years later. (We had no idea we'd be working on this project this long).

SPECIFICATIONS:Runtime - 00:11:18​Project Budget - 517 (USD)Production - Oct. 2018 - Aug. 2019Post-Production - Nov. 2021 - Feb. 2022Language - EnglishCountry  - United States of America (New York)​Film Type - Short Documentary Accessibility Features - Closed Captions, Open Captions (English)
film poster image is a closeup photograph of Kylie and Olivia, two white women with glasses, appearing to look over the camera to just show their eyes. Text overtop of the image reads "a film by Kylie Walter and Olivia Baist" "And They Were Roommates: Navigating inclusive mentorship in higher education SHORT"

Note: this website and project uses person-first language to respect the preferences and identities of those in the film at the time of filmmaking.

Note: this website and project uses person-first language to respect the preferences and identities of those in the film at the time of filmmaking.