CommLeader Spotlight|Alex Montalvo, Cohort 13

10636408_847110091995943_1175087860255228443_oGraduation date or expected graduation date: June 2015

Area of interest (within the MCDM/MCCN program or in general):

Visual storytelling, photography, documentary production, and transmedia activism.

What exactly do you do professionally or what are your professional goals?

I’m a photographer, videographer and communications strategist. My current principal focus is in creating content for Unfinished Sentences, a UW Center for Human Rights project to support Salvadorans in their fight for justice for wartime atrocities. My professional goal is to use digital media to create positive change around important environmental and social issues. On the lighter side, I love capturing portraits of people. Creating beauty and happiness in life is my ultimate goal.

How are you directly applying knowledge from the MCDM or MCCN program in your daily life?

The program has changed the way I think about the flow of information, and how people connect to that information–the technological side of communications and the emotional connection that makes storytelling successful.  This work helps foster patience, authenticity, transparency, and clarity in message and intention which have much application to daily life: patience comes in determining the timing of elements in a story or with content over a period of time; authenticity and transparency in the design of communication strategy that requires the same of business operations; and clarity and intention in our search for the most salient component of our message. I could use more of all of these in my daily life.

As a full-time or part-time student, how have classes worked into your schedule?

I’ve taken terms both as a full-time and part-time student, and I’ve found the classes to work into my schedule very well. With that said, there are pros and cons to either status: The full-time schedule is very busy, but doable, but it doesn’t leave any time to have a life outside of work and school.  The part-time schedule enables a more relaxed pace and some participation in engagements outside of school.  However, I tend to fill the remaining space up with extracurricular activities so I’m not any less busy. Then again, by participating in these more diverse activities I feel less stressed overall, so the part-time schedule provides added value. I think it all depends on how each individual prioritizes their needs for the term, and how they define their personal working style. I’ve been enjoying rotating between full-time and part-time terms. The nice thing about the program is that it provides that flexibility. Also, classes are conveniently scheduled for the evening or weekends.

Which classes have had the most impact on you personally and professionally?

I’ve gained something from every class, but Hanson Hosein’s Networks and Narratives Anita Verna Croft’s Leadership through Story and Community, and Alex Stonehill and Sarah Stuteville’s Advanced Multimedia Storytelling have stuck with me the most.

What’s your favorite Comm Lead experience?

The display of our class final projects for Anita Verna Crofts’ Leadership through Story and Communities. I loved watching everyone’s personality and creativity come together simultaneously and physically within a shared space. As a result of our study of digital media, we often view each other’s work over some type of screen. The final project merged the physical and the digital, which resulted in a highly stimulating finale to the class.

Career-wise, what is your ultimate digital media goal?

To create an interesting digital media campaign that results in measurable change on the ground.

What digital trends are you most intrigued by right now?

Big data, interactive documentaries, and the disruptive effects of digital media on business models.

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and under what circumstances?

While leading trips as an international educator in a former professional life, a homestay mom in Thailand convinced me to eat wok-fried silk worms by repeatedly calling them “Thailand French fry.”  They actually weren’t bad. I remember thinking, “There’s no goo.”

Ilona IdlisCommLeader Spotlight|Alex Montalvo, Cohort 13
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