Interactive Media graduates advised to use their education to find their way through life
Family, friends and Elon faculty and staff gathered on May 22 with the 28 students in the Master of Arts in Interactive Media program's Class of 2019 to celebrate their completion of the program.
Drawing examples from coding languages and production software, Ken Calhoun offered guidance to the graduating class of Elon's Master of Arts in Interactive Media as they move onto their new careers in a growing field.
Calhoun, who played a role in launching the iMedia program at Elon 10 years ago, used a term for tracking how the source files of websites are stored — a breadcrumb trail — to relate how these new graduates can find their way home in life. But Calhoun, now associate professor of art and graphic design at Lasell College, said breadcrumbs are too ephemeral.
"Use your education," Calhoun said. "Mark the trail with people you trust, people who have supported and helped you, people who can tell you how to get home when you get too deep in the woods."
Ten months ago, this cohort of iMedia students made the choice to pursue a graduate degree in interactive media that will now propel them in different directions, toward different career goals and the start of different jobs. They arrived at an introductory boot camp from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, and emerge with their degree with a toolbox of skills and a portfolio of work that will lead them in new directions.
Claudia Jensen, delivering remarks on behalf of the class, recalled how they gathered at The Oak House on the first day of the program, and were told by professors that the 10 months would fly by, an idea that was hard to believe at the time. The months ticked off, as they survived individual and group projects, fly-in international experiences and hours upon hours spent on capstone projects, Jensen said.
"While I can't tell you what the future will bring, this graduation has already shown us how capable we are of accomplishing our goals when we commit ourselves," Jensen said. "Let us take each new problem with confidence, knowing that we have reached great heights and are equipped with the necessary tools to tackle our futures."
In his remarks to the new graduates, Calhoun noted how drastically interactivity has changed during the decade since Elon created its iMedia program. There's more emphasis on how people interact with digital media and online content, and they're using different devices to do it.
"Look — these are complicated, hyperconnected times," Calhoun said. "In many ways, the interactive genie that we let out of the bottle has kind of gone rogue, unleashing some tricky problems for you to solve."
Faced with these changes, Calhoun laid out advice for succeeding both professionally and personally. He advised that the graduates eschew "snapping" through which images or words snap to a predetermined grid, noting that they should not want someone or something else to make their choices for them. "You want your response to be uniquely yours, maybe between the lines or maybe right on them — whatever, as long as you decided," Calhoun said.
Flexibility, like a website or app that responds to the varying constraints of the device it's viewed or used on, is a necessity, Calhoun said. Cropping — adjusting the margins of the viewable portion of an image — is about knowing what to leave out, a practice that has value in life, he said.
Calhoun said he was reminded in viewing the capstone projects that each graduate completed that Elon is dedicated to service and the public good. "It gave me hope to see a group of young, talented people so committed to using interactive strategies to solve problems — even those introduced by the very technology from which they will forge solutions," he said. "I applaud your skills, artistry and your noble intentions and I'm honored to be here today, to celebrate both your arrival on the scene, and the graduate program that has prepared you for leadership roles in realizing the promise of interactive media."
In her charge to the graduating class, President Connie Ledoux Book expressed her pride in seeing all that these new alumni have accomplished, and encouraged them remember values that are central to Elon, including honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect. "Remember that we are forever bound together by these values," Book said.
She encouraged them to use their knowledge and freedom as they move out into the world to begin new careers and build upon what they have learned during the past 10 months. They are now lifelong members of the Elon family, Book said.
Candidates for the Master of Arts in Interactive Media Degree
Julia Marion Brown
Shay B. Carlson
Drew Edmond Daffron
Alessandra Gabrielle Ferguson
Joshua Deshawn Gay
John Peter Gorman IV
Ellington Bradford O’Banner Hayes
Zachary John Henkels
Devon Denzel James
Claudia Lynne Jensen*
Kathryn Irene Jostes*
Sneha Deepak Kulkarni
Geremy Demetric Mack
Tyrin De-Quon McMillan
Emily J Morin
Sophie Richardson Natan*
Jessica Marie Parker
Brittany Nicole Pearson
Contia’ Janetta Prince
Fannique Erinn Marcelle Robinson
Carolina Gisela Robledo*
Aaron James Xavier Scott
Donita Gail Sharkey
Juliana Rebecca Walker
Tyquan Kemel Williams
Matthew Austin Wotus
Benjamin Lee Yerby
Simone Nicole Young
* denotes Phi Kappa Phi