Area of interest (within the MCDM/MCCN program or in general):
I’m in the MCDM, and my interest is in the creation and distribution of digital media. Through the program, I hope to continue to grow as a storyteller and build strong networks as I champion the projects on which I work.
What exactly do you do professionally or what are your professional goals?
I tell stories from other people’s words. Sometimes, I interview someone on camera and assemble a narrative from the sound bites. Other times, I have a conversation with a subject matter expert and craft a script from the highlights. In general, my career is heavily focused on content creation, which has included not just video, but also writing and design. The common thread among all three is my interest in communicating the stories of individuals, companies and products. I enjoy seeing how all the fragments of content come together to create a solid narrative.
How are you directly applying knowledge from the MCDM or MCCN program in your daily life?
Many of the concepts taught throughout the program are entrepreneurial in nature. I love working with companies to find and tell their stories, but these days, I also find myself thinking about what content I want to create for myself. The knowledge that the program imparts has spurred me to consider how my personal projects can coexist with my marketing projects throughout my career.
As a full-time or part-time student, how have classes worked into your schedule?
I won’t lie; working classes into my schedule has been a challenge. As I write this (in August 2014), I’m currently employed full time, juggling a few personal projects, and working with a few companies on the side. Students should take this program at the pace that fits their schedule. For me, that has meant taking no more than one class a quarter so I can process the learning while I juggle a number of other items. I would prefer to make this program into a marathon, not a sprint. Allowing myself a slower stride has also allowed me a bit more time to connect with the instructors and students, something I might not otherwise be able to do. My pace does have its disadvantages though – I took the Spring 2014 quarter off, and I immediately found myself missing the program. I cannot wait for the next class.
Which classes have had the most impact on you personally and professionally?
I deeply appreciated Associate Director Anita Verna Croft’s “Leadership through Story and Communities” class (COM 536A), because it forced us to create our own original works of art, reflecting our professional ambitions. This was an extremely open-ended final assignment, and it was purposefully so. The students of this program have such diverse interests that each of us must take it upon ourselves to determine where we want to go and how the learning and networking will help us get there. At the end of the quarter, we had an exhibition day, in which students showcased their works. The results were amazing. My fellow students blew me away with their immense, varied creativity. Anita challenged us to step beyond our day-to-day jobs and consider seriously what we wanted to create for ourselves.
What’s your favorite Comm Lead experience?
I was in Portland for a video shoot in April 2014 when I opened an e-mail asking for volunteers to present at the annual Communication Leadership Screen Summit. I’ve always been timid on stage, so I closed the e-mail and tried to ignore it. But something inside kept telling me that I needed to take more risks, and so, I signed up and spent the next several weeks preparing for the Screen Summit. I was selected as one of three main-stage presenters, and on the night of the event, I stood in front of more than 100 professionals, faculty and students and delivered a presentation about the importance of authenticity in storytelling. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I was overwhelmed by the support I received before and after the event. One of the best things about the Comm Lead program is that it provides students with the means to take risks and embrace opportunities they otherwise would not. This is a highly supportive environment, and the instructors and fellow students will do whatever they can to help you on your journey.
Career-wise, what is your ultimate digital media goal?
I want to tell longer-form stories. The Emergence Series (www.emergence-series.com) that I started in Anita Verna Croft’s “Leadership through Story and Communities” class explores people who have found their deepest passion, and how those passions enrich and mold their lives. This has always been an area of interest for me, and I hope to craft extended films on this topic and others in the future.
What digital trends are you most intrigued by right now?
I find the explosion of content that we’ve seen during the last decade to be both a blessing and a challenge. We’re seeing more independent content producers than ever before, which have legitimized less-traditional distribution channels like Vimeo as platforms for paid media consumption. However, because so much content exists, getting noticed still requires a good dose of hard work, talent, resilience and luck. I’m fascinated by the fact that we have more ways to appreciate content than ever before, but the obstacles to finding a mass audience are still substantial.
What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and under what circumstances?
Back in my undergraduate days at the University of Kansas, I once decided to cook chicken tikka masala for a friend’s birthday party. I’m a vegetarian now, but in those days, I’d only given up red meat. I had purchased an Indian cookbook specifically for the occasion, and I remember spending more money on the ingredients than I could really afford to make sure there would be enough for everyone. Somewhere along the innumerable steps, I’d misread the instructions and used tablespoons instead of teaspoons for one of my spice measurements. The recipe didn’t finish cooking until just before the party, so with no time to take a taste, I rushed out the door, arrived at the party, and let the birthday girl know that I’d cooked something special. She half swallowed, half spit a fork full, sharply curled the edges of her mouth, and thanked me for my strange creation. Needless to say, the dish went uneaten, though I did manage to choke down a few awful bites. There’s a lesson in here somewhere, about the importance of details and proportions, but instead, I’m just going to own up to the truth: I’m a terrible chef. You can’t be good at everything, and it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses.