Native Hawaiian navigates oceans, scholastic success

Isaiah Pule ’18 is used to navigating oceans, but this semester is his first opportunity exploring the waters of collegiate life. Traveling almost 5,000 miles away from his home in Waianae, Hawaii, the freshman Film and Media Studies major brings with him a passion for movies and a penchant for overseas navigation.

Back home, Pule is a member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a group that researches and practices methods of traditional oceanic travel. The Polynesian navigation system makes use of traditional double hulled canoes comprised of wood, rope, and tarp. It has been used by Hawaiians for thousands of years to sail around the world without the use of modern technology.  “They would use the stars, the suns, the waves, and the currents to help find their destination,” said Pule.

Growing up in an unstable environment, Pule found a home in the ocean through the Voyaging Society. “Through my youth, I never really had a father figure. My biological father is incarcerated. My mother, from the Marshall Islands, found difficulty attaining a job,” he said.  Pule was even homeless for parts of his early childhood and was eventually placed into foster care.  For Pule, voyaging served as an escape.

In his time with the organization, Pule has traveled between the islands of Hawaii and has even gone on voyages into deep ocean territory. He has met amazing people, among them being Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, through his boating voyages. Getting a chance to talk to both men after the program invited them to bless a canoe in preparation for a voyage, Pule noted that it was amazing to share in their positive energy and amazing life stories.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society provided Pule with many opportunities, one of them being the chance to meet Jonathan Burdick, the U of R’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Pule’s journey to Rochester began the summer before his junior year when he met Dean Burdick at College Horizons, a pre-college readiness program for native students around the globe. The two found common ground in their mutual interests in astronomy and navigation. This encounter motivated Pule to participate in the U of R’s Multicultural Visitation Program, which gave him his first glimpse of his future campus.

After an interesting admissions interview on Halloween, where he was dressed as Superman, Pule was welcomed to the Class of 2018 as a recipient of the Renaissance and Global Scholarship, as well as the Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship, both of which are awarded to incoming students for outstanding academic merit and strong potential for leadership.

A first generation college student, Pule is glad to be given the opportunity to pursue higher education. Growing up with the struggles of homelessness, foster care, and delinquency, he is thankful for the support of teachers and family that helped to push him towards a more diligent and success-oriented mindset.  He is likewise grateful for the scholarship opportunities that have made his collegiate experience financially feasible.

“The college route is a path that opens up so many doors and opportunities, and I’m excited to create a better future for myself,” he said.  As both a Handler and Renaissance Scholar, he hopes to lead by example and inspire his peers and future students alike to continue on the path to being “ever better.”

Pule’s love for movies has led him to pursue a degree in Film and Media Studies. Many of his favorite films such as Gridiron Gang, Remember the Titans, and Freedom Writers resonate with the personal struggles of his past. He hopes to one day make movies that can portray the same themes of hope and success that inspired him growing up.

His favorite movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, is one of his largest inspirations. “It proved that the idea of starting from the bottom and making a life for yourself is more than just a dream,” said Pule.  “I want to make a movie like this that can inspire someone to make a change. And just to have fun along the way.”

Pule looks forward to his time at Rochester as an opportunity for growth. “I want to be a leech and take in all that I can. I want to learn about different cultures and share my own, representing who I am and where I came from.”

With plans for a lengthy trek from Hawaii to Australia already in the works for next summer, Pule is excited to return home to Hawaii.  It will be his longest and most challenging voyage yet.  In the meantime, he’ll have to focus his energies on navigating the tunnel system in preparation for the coming winter.

Organic Ideas Grow on Campus

By Joe Bailey
University Communications

In Leila Nadir’s class, Food, Media and Literature, the concept of sustainability is definitely taking root. Her lesson plans include explorations of the way our food reaches us, and how that system can be improved. She sprinkles in the lingo of the health-food movement, and fosters healthy, back-to-basics attitudes in her pupils. The class also includes overviews of the potential detriments of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Students find her approach welcoming, with plenty of hands-on activities. They strive to become savvy consumers of food, as well as stewards of the earth.

One of the do-it-yourself projects in the course is to sprout seeds, including alfalfa, broccoli, and various peas and beans, to produce an eco-friendly, healthful snack. The seeds are soaked in glass jars and drained three times a day to promote germination. Several students in the course said the reason they enrolled was that they were interested in where the food they ate came from. By sprouting seeds, they all have a chance to engage in the whole process, from start to finish.

l-r: Sarah Kirschenheiter '13, Stacy Miller '15 and Julia Evans '13 (all class TA's). // The New Media Fermentation Workshop, a collaboration between University of Rochester professors Leila Nadir (sustainability) and Cary Peppermint (art and art history) meets in Burton Hall March 31, 2014. The workshop consist of students making their own personal vegetable ferments plus new media art students who will be documenting and remixing the experience. The workshops are part of EcoArtTech's new work-in-progress, Edible Ecologies, which involves collaborating with local communities to resuscitate historic food practices and foodways.  // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of RochesterWhen asked how she got interested in food, media and literature, teaching assistant Stacy Miller replied, “I love food, and I want to be a smart consumer of it.” The class places a strong emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Junior Brittany Flittner plans to use what she learns in this class to educate her family and herself to eat better foods that have a lower impact on the environment.

One subject the course addresses qualitatively is genetically modified organisms. Generally, the consensus among class members is that, in spite of some short-term benefits, GMOs are a bad idea in the long run. They identified potential issues like the emergence of resistant pests, caused by exclusive use of the same kind of GMO, or inferior taste, in the case of the late-ripening tomato. In one student’s opinion, GMOs might one day be safe enough to integrate into the food supply, but until then further study is needed. Students also commented on the inefficiency of food distribution, both nationally and internationally. One astute student pointed out that no matter how much food is produced by farms, people are still hungry in the world, noting that in industrialized nations, much food often goes to waste, while the poor and people in the developing world are left trying to make ends meet.

On March 31, the class gathered in a lounge in Burton residence hall to participate in a fermentation workshop. In the Greenspace lounge, these intrepid students sliced, diced, and chopped up vegetables of all kinds, creating mixtures of cabbage, with peppers and beets for flavor. “It’s important to cut the vegetables up very thin. You want to have as much surface area as possible,” Nadir explained. The veggies were mixed in bowls, then placed into jars with salt to ferment for a couple of weeks. Junior Stacy Miller described the process as “all-natural, a back-to-basics approach to preserving food.” No vinegar, sugar, or chemicals were added to hasten the fermentation process, as one might do when making pickles or sauerkraut. The only preservatives were various kinds of salt, added to disrupt the vegetables’ cell walls using osmotic pressure.

The New Media Fermentation Workshop, a collaboration between University of Rochester professors Leila Nadir (sustainability) and Cary Peppermint (art and art history) meets in Burton Hall March 31, 2014. The workshop consist of students making their own personal vegetable ferments plus new media art students who will be documenting and remixing the experience. The workshops are part of EcoArtTech's new work-in-progress, Edible Ecologies, which involves collaborating with local communities to resuscitate historic food practices and foodways.  // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Through the workshop, students got a firsthand view into how food has been preserved historically, and learned that adding just a little sea salt to cabbage could promote the growth of probiotic bacteria. One student described how the same bacteria are present in yogurt, but not in their natural amounts. Probiotics are initially removed from the yogurt, then re-added later in the process. This workshop showed students how healthy “good bacteria” are a part of a balanced diet.

From sprouts to fermented veggies, the health food movement is definitely flourishing in Food, Media, and Literature!

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Ben Epstein

defaultName: Ben Epstein

Age:  36

Education: BA (Film Studies & Political Science)

Current city/state of residence: NYC, NY

Job Title: Producer, American Pickers

Employer: Cineflix

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

I was offered a great financial aid package.

When and how did you choose your major?  

I started as a Political Science major, and then started taking Film Studies Courses.  Eventually I decided that the two compliment each other well and eventually chose to complete both as a double major.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?  

Getting a foothold in my chosen field of Film and Television wasn’t easy.  Through an alumni connection I eventually found work as an intern on music videos and commercials, which led to paid work as a PA.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I’m a freelance TV Producer, Director and Writer for non-fiction cable networks.  I currently work on American Pickers for History.  After working on music videos and commercials, I realized that I’d rather work in a format that involved more substance and storytelling.  In 2000 I transitioned to documentary TV production and have since produced, written and directed a wide variety of cable programming for major basic cable networks.

What advice do you have for current students?

Pick a clear career goal and study the dynamics of your chosen industry.  Don’t assume it will be easy to attain or that you will find an easy path to the top.  There are few shortcuts in real life, but through hard work and by paying your dues, you can get there.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Mary Kokinda

defaultName: Mary Kokinda

Education:  BA (English & Film Studies), University of Rochester; MA (Inclusive Education), Warner School of Education

Current city/state of residence: Brighton, NY

Job Title: Teacher

Employer: Pittsford Schools, NY

Community activities:  Foster Parent, Horizons at Warner School Teacher in summer, connected with Buffalo Pugs & Small Breed Rescue Group

When and how did you choose your major?

I began thinking that I would be a math major, eventually turned math teacher, but I had always been an avid reader and enjoyed writing so taking more English courses was a natural inclination.  Along the way I discovered Professor Johnson who taught an English/Film course.  His personality and lectures captivated me.  In my junior year I finally declared my double major in English and Film Studies on paper!  Additionally, my uncle, who is a Creative Director in Advertising in NYC, advised me to get a broad education like an English degree because it could be applied to so much and gave you rich background knowledge.  I also knew it was an important choice in case I ever decided to become a teacher.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I remember telling everyone that my plan was not to have a plan because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.  I had a close friend who had moved to NYC so I moved in with her and four other people in a studio apartment in Manhattan.  (None of us were ever home so sharing a small space wasn’t as bad as it sounds!)  I was able to work as an assistant to my uncle for a while and was quickly schooled in the minutia of working in a major city – I needed a new wardrobe and a new confidence!  When one of my many roommates, a younger girl, left to return to college in the fall, I responded to a voicemail that had been left for her on the message machine (this was pre-cell phone world) from the production office for a feature film.  The girl had been a production assistant (PA) on Sex and the City, which had wrapped, but they called her to interview for the feature film they were about to begin shooting.  I called back explaining that I had on-set experience (I had just watched my uncle’s crew film commercials for three days) and that I was available.  The next day I was hired.  After a fantastic experience working as an Office Production Assistant for the movie The Family Man (with Nicholas Cage) I returned to Rochester, my hometown, having realized that living in the city was not for me, but totally satisfied that I tried that path. In fact, the movie itself seemed to echo my life, as it’s essentially the story of a man who realizes that less can be more and that money or fame is not the same as success.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

As I sat on film and commercial sets I was always drawn to the children.  In fact, I’d been working off and on as a nanny all throughout high school and college.  After living in NYC I tried living in LA to see if the more residential, suburban atmosphere would be the right setting for me as I continued to work in the film industry.  My connections were all mid-project and I ended up being a nanny for the actor Thomas Gibson who was starring in the tv show Dharma & Greg at the time.   Deep in my heart I knew that I would eventually work with kids and again I returned to my hometown of Rochester.  I absolutely love being a teacher however I am so glad that I took the risks I did right after college and had experiences in the other world, film, that captured my attention.  It has made me a better teacher for sure.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Knowing how to write well and communicate my thinking has been the most useful skill that I honed in my college experience.  My professors were demanding and I was even scared of their high expectations but it brought out the best in me.

How do you stay connected with the University?

I have continued to take course work at the Warner School.  I also work at Horizons at Warner.  And I love getting Rochester Review in the mail!

What advice do you have for current students?

I was always able to approach any of my UR professors for support or advice.  I’m not a very social person so each interaction with professors was anxiety-provoking for me, however it was worth it every time.  The professors love what they do and they care.  They were always willing to help me since I was willing to make the effort to be open with them.  I encourage all college students to reach out to their professors and connect with them.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Jeremy Sarachan

sarachanName: Jeremy Sarachan

Education: BA (Psychology and Film Studies), University of Rochester, 1991; Certificate of Management Studies, University of Rochester ’93; M.S. Rochester Institute of Technology, Information Technology ’99 (focus on multimedia/ web design and programming)

Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Assistant Professor, Communication/Journalism and Program Director, Digital Cultures and Technologies

Employer: St. John Fisher College

Community activities: acting and directing in local theater; former member of improv comedy troupe

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

I transferred from Cornell halfway through my sophomore year in search of smaller classes and a more intellectual atmosphere, and happily found it at U of R.  I value the rigor of Constance Penley’s course in Contemporary Film Theory and Richard Gollin’s student-centered seminar in Screen Comedy.

When and how did you choose your major?  

I declared film studies as a second major (with psychology) the summer before my junior year.  I had been making videos since middle school and wanted to explore films and filmmaking more thoroughly.  At that point, I also was considering graduate school in filmmaking.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was Business Manager of the Filmmaking Club; a few students, mostly film studies majors, had the opportunity to make films and present them to the campus at the end of each semester.  I was Managing Editor of The Norm, which was the U of R humor magazine published from the mid 80’s to mid-90’s.  I also acted in several plays, including “Nicholas Nickleby,” an 8-hour play (performed over two evenings) with 40+ student performers.  I use the design skills I learned on The Norm to this day and became very active in community and fringe theater after college as a result of my experiences in Todd Theater.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I’m an Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism and director of the program in Digital Cultures and Technologies at St. John Fisher College.  I teach courses in web design, social media, digital storytelling, documentary film, and emergent media theory. After several years in business, I found I missed learning, went to graduate school, and became an academic.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

Film Studies taught me how to examine a piece of art carefully and critically and to see purpose in the smallest details.  In any kind of video, art, or design work, this ability to focus and articulate meaning is invaluable.

What advice do you have for current students?

Major in what interests you.  It’ll work out.  I tell that to my current students, and I’m living proof.  Soon after college, I decided that a career in film wasn’t really for me.  But then multimedia and the web emerged and I was able to revisit my high school interest in computer programming. Now, my profession requires an understanding of cognitive psychology, user interfaces and visual aesthetics, allowing me to combine my two majors in ways I would have never imagined while I was a student.



Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Nathaniel King

nkingName: Nathaniel King

Occupation: Attorney

Education (UR and additional): B.A. (African and African American Studies and Film and Media Studies), University of Rochester; J.D., Florida A&M University College of Law 2011

Current city/state of residence: Orlando, FL

Community activities: Community Legal Educator, Campaign Volunteer

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester? 

The University had nationally recognized programs of study in both arts and sciences.  When I was accepted, I wanted to study medicine; however, I also noticed that arts and social science programs offered at U of R produced skillful, successful writers, attorneys, and politicians.  I felt like any path that I would choose at U of R would lead me to success due to the University’s reputation.

When and how did you choose your major? 

I knew that I had a penchant for history, language, and communications.  African and African American Studies gave me the coursework and assignments to polish all of these skills and interests.  The AAAS major allows students to gain substantial exposure to economics, political science, history, and sociology among other disciplines which make for a great analyst and communicator.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use? 

The UR Career Center’s bank of internships and career opportunities was a very important resource for me as well as the networking with alumni at major events on campus.  I was able to get a PBS internship from the UR Career Center that helped to give me valuable experience.  Maintaining contact with your colleagues is also crucial because they become professional references and resources after graduation.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I became a history teacher in Ohio immediately after graduation because my goal of producing television for PBS was put on hold due to a change in federal funding for public broadcasting.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

Currently, I am a juris doctor who just graduated for Florida A&M University College of Law.  I am awaiting my bar exam results and preparing to practice employment law in New York City.  I chose this career from my foundation in African and African American Studies at U of R, which gave me a thorough cultural studies and social science vantage point from which to successfully research, apply, and argue legal concepts.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

Four years of study at U of R provided me with Spanish bilingual skills, scholarly research abilities, and effective writing and communication that gave me work opportunities in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Orlando.

How are you still connected with the University?

I am a part of the Rochester Alumni Exchange that allows me to maintain contact with fellow alumni.  I share my experiences with high school grads who have been recently accepted to UR, and I occasionally provide financial support to the University.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: David Leavitt

LeavittName: David I. Leavitt

Education: UR Class of 1998

Current city/state of residence: Washington, DC

Job Title: Senior Vice President

Employer: Weber Shandwick

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

It got my attention as an off-the-beaten path school with a great reputation among those who know academics. When I visited the campus, I immediately realized that I fit in both with the people and the setting.

When and how did you choose your major?

I created my own major — media studies — once I realized how the classes I had already taken could best align with my interests.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I enjoyed playing trumpet in the pep band, but my passion was for the Campus Times. I showed up in the newspaper office on my first day and basically never left for four years. I made life-long friends and learned skills that later became useful in my professional career.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I was a journalist for about ten years and then moved into consulting. For the past few years, I’ve been a digital strategist for Weber Shandwick, which is the world’s largest communications agency. I choose this career because it’s a great intersection of news media and online communications. I especially enjoy our work for our Social Impact practice, which concentrates on foundations and nonprofits.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Some people draw lines between their work and personal lives. I’m not one of those people. I wouldn’t spend more than 50 hours per week with people I don’t like. I’ve managed to find a place at which I enjoy showing up every day. I both take my work home with me and also have some fun during the workday.

Spotlight On Humanities Alumni: Maura Rapkin

AP Maura RapkinName: Maura Rapkin

Education: BA (Environmental Studies & Film and Media Studies), University of Rochester, 2011

Current city/state of residence: New York, NY

Job Title: Cook

Employer: Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

As an 18 year old, I was aware that I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. UR’s freedom to experiment with classes and majors was the biggest draw for me, and ended up allowing me to study two subjects which I love (FMS and Environmental Science).

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

Throughout my four years I spent most time involved with building the Undergraduate Film Council.  I found it lovely to connect with other students purely based on our common interest in film.  Spending time trying to unite the rest of the student body through film, whether or not we were successful, was a good way to connect with the campus and bring FMS to the forefront.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

The week or two leading up to graduation, I began to really feel the freedom that was quickly approaching.  I took a step back and looked at all the work I had done to assess my career options relating to my majors.  I did not feel that any of those paths were quite right for me, so I decided to try out an old passion, cooking.  Without really telling anyone, I applied to a bunch of restaurants around Rochester and eventually got accepted as a cook at a small Asian restaurant in Corn Hill.   I also spent some time continuing my film work with Professor Bernardi, helping her archive some of her vast collection of Japanese paraphernalia.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am now a professional cook and aspiring chef, as well as a Freelance food photographer.  Both paths are actually extremely lucrative for me.  I took the pictures for a healthy recipe cookbook (now on sale) and am currently creating a photo archive for an organic farm delivery service website, brochure, and catalogue.  As my steady income I cook at a prominent catering company in the tri-state area.  I have really found cooking to be an excellent creative outlet and my passion grows for it daily.   The photography helps me stay connected to my film roots, but cooking is how I enjoy spending most of my time.

How do you stay connected with the University?

I still keep in touch with most of my friends from my graduating class.  A lot of people moved to NY where I live now, so it’s been pretty easy to maintain my “Rochester connections.”

What advice do you have for current students?

This is the corniest advice, but I would not be where I am right now if I hadn’t listened to and followed my heart.  I am one year out of college, not where I thought I would be at all, and exactly in the right place.  I couldn’t be happier with where all of my decisions have landed me, and all I did was, very simply, follow my own heart.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Matthew Blute

blute Name: Matthew Blute ’96
Education:  BA (Film Studies), University of Rochester, 1996; MFA (Cinematography), American Film Institute, 2003
Current city/state of residence: Los Angeles, CA
Job Title: Cinematographer
Employer:  (self) Open Road Pictures, LLC
Community activities:  Volunteering at Boston Prep Charter Public School


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I was tricked.  I visited the campus in July and it was a beautiful day.   Also, I wanted to a school with good film studies department that also offered a broad curriculum.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

David Rodowick and Sharon Willis were mentors in the film department.  Sharon especially encouraged me and a few other students to take our first steps in to the world of production during our senior year.  Looking back, it was kind of a technical disaster but I learned so much and the support she provided us was invaluable.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I knew I wanted to be a cinematographer but I was working in Boston as an assistant editor to pay the bills and taking classes at Avid Technology to expand my skills.  Computer editing was a new phenomenon at the time (= old).  While taking classes I applied for a job at Avid and I was off and running.  I learned an incredible amount about the post-production side of the business while earning a paycheck that was a bit more dependable than freelance.  I also learned that I didn’t want to do post for my career.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I’m a cinematographer and recently I’ve been working in 3D production.  I just completed 6 months of work as the Stereographer on Transformers: Age of Extinction for Director Michael Bay.   I don’t know if I chose this career or it chose me but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

The foundation in film history and theory I received at UR has served me well throughout my career.  Being able to have detailed conversations with my creative collaborators about films we admire, or the stories behind the films and their analysis is one of the best parts of my job.

How do you stay connected with the University?

I try to visit every year or two for Meliora Weekend and so many of my good friends are UR grads, including my wife!

What advice do you have for current students?

If you’re interested in film production spend all your time practicing your craft. Be willing to work for very little compensation for a long time but persistence will win out.  Let the journey be the destination.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Daniel Mauro

dmauroName: Daniel Mauro

Education B.A. in Film and Media Studies & English, University of Rochester, 2008; M.A. in Film and Media Studies, University of Kansas, 2010; Ph.D. in Media Studies, University of Texas at Austin, expected 2015

Current city/state of residence: Austin, TX

Job Title: Doctoral Candidate & Instructor

Employer: Department of Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin

Community Activities: Journal editing, festival and social programming, concert-going, eating

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

Rochester offered not only a wide variety of coursework, but also the freedom to explore a range of degree programs.  I entered the University with many different interests, knowing that a curriculum that encourages exploration in many departments and programs could help guide me in discovering the directions I would want to take in my education and career.

When and how did you choose your major?

Film and media studies was initially more of a hobby interest when beginning at Rochester.  As I took more coursework and gained invaluable experiences through unique programs offered by Art NY and the George Eastman House, I found film and media studies to be a particularly stimulating field that drew intersections across my interdisciplinary interests.  Being heavily involved in the International Theatre Program led me to also pursue a second major in English, which nicely complemented my theoretical interests in media.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was most involved in the International Theatre Program.  This was an excellent training ground for many skills necessary for life outside of the classroom.  Across the many opportunities the program offered, I gained indispensable experience in management, problem-solving, technical knowledge, artistic concepts, and interpersonal communication.  And best of all, this is where I met many of my friends.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

After graduation, I entered graduate school.  Coming to this decision was a long process that began well before graduation.  Taking a variety of coursework within and outside of my major areas of study, along with my experiences outside of the classroom, helped me to figure out what I wanted to do equally as much as what I did not want to do in my career.  After these experiences and many constructive discussions with faculty mentors, I decided that graduate school would be the best career path for me.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am in the process of earning a Ph.D. in Media Studies from the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, where I also teach.  My current research centers around politics of amateur media and the implications these media have in democratic communication and cultural historiography.  In my coursework at Rochester, I became very interested in social contexts surrounding media.  In my graduate work, I have developed these interests into a more focused area of study which I hope to share through research and teaching.


What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

As I continue my graduate research in media studies, I feel ever more fortunate to have received the education that I did while at Rochester.  The coursework provided an excellent foundation of theoretical, historical, and practical knowledge which has prepared me as I’ve advanced my research and teaching in the years since.  Furthermore, the teaching methods of my professors continue to be pedagogical models for me when in front of the classroom.

What advice do you have for current students?

An education at the University of Rochester is a true privilege.  Take advantage of the many opportunities the University and the city have to offer.  If you are even remotely interested in exploring a new topic or idea, take that class or get involved in that activity.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Your years at Rochester are the best (and perhaps only) time that you will have the flexibility to explore what truly interests you.