E-Net News

Interactive Profiles: Recent Elon Grad Continues Education at Alma Mater

Shelley Russell is a thinker, a planner. She can envision the final product. She has an idea about what would look good on a page or a computer screen. And to a certain extent, she can complete some of the tasks--the writing and basic video editing, for example--needed to execute her visualization.

Russell graduated from Elon in May, but she'll continue her postgraduate education in the brand new Interactive Media master's program.

But Russell says she wants to do more. She wants to tell an engaging story using any and all multimedia tools at her disposal, but she knows she doesn’t have all the requisite skills. That’s why the 2009 Elon graduate decided to stick around her alma mater for one more year in the new Interactive Media master’s program.

“Right now, I think I’m pretty comfortable with putting together a simple video, definitely writing stories and coming up with concepts for a multimedia package,” Russell says. “I want to expand my skills so I feel more confident organizing and executing (multimedia stories). I can think of the ideas and what would look good and what the viewers would want to see, so I think this program will really help me.”

Russell was a journalism and environmental studies major at Elon, and just two months after graduation, she’s ready to start the one-year, full-time iMedia program that will prepare her and her classmates to think strategically across media platforms; plan and create interactive media content consisting of text, images, sounds, video and graphics; and manage information for interactive news, entertainment and persuasive communications.

Students will learn from award-winning professors, build their own interactive media projects in state-of-the-art facilities and help chart the future of media communication.

“I chose the program because there aren’t many graduate programs that specialize in just interactive media,” Russell says. “I found that that was a really good degree to pursue, especially being a journalism major because print journalism is rapidly deteriorating and I really need something that will give me a leg up in the competitive job market.”

Russell says she’s intrigued by the new skill sets she could gain. She’s looking forward to the courses that center on 3D design and visual elements, specifically.

“I’m excited that all these things deal with the elements of design and aesthetics of design, what viewers like, what they want,” she says.

Russell gained some experience with software applications such as Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver in her undergrad classes, but she’s yearning for more. And, she says, if people don’t continue using the software they learn in the classroom, then they forget how to use it.

“So I need to rekindle my knowledge,” she says.

Russell already has a solid journalistic grounding, and because the iMedia program will still focus on storytelling, her experiences at the Alamance News, the Pendulum and other professional internships will help ease the transition into the graduate program.

But, she says, while she’s expecting to learn how to use new pieces of software and to expand her knowledge of previously learned programs, she’s also anticipating furthering her storytelling abilities. And it’s not like she has lofty expectations.

“I’m expecting to leave the program knowing 10 times more than I did when I walked through the door,” Russell says.

It may be hard to quantify how she will have learned 10 times more than she did when she started, but she’s still anxiously awaiting the start of classes and meeting a new group of students, all of whom, she anticipates, are willing to work hard.

“People want to be here,” she says. “So I’m looking forward to working with other motivated students to accomplish a task and put something together that we’re going to be proud of and that will be useful to other people.”

Russell says she’s not entirely certain where an iMedia degree will lead her in a year. She may go into the print industry, or she might become a producer or project manager at any number of organizations. One thing is for sure, though: She can’t wait to get back in the classroom.

“A lot of people want a break from school,” Russell says. “I’m very motivated to continue my education. I’m already in school mode. I haven’t had much freedom on my own where it would be hard to come back. While I’m already in it, I think it’s great to stay in it. I kind of have my grounding at Elon.”

Interactive Profiles is a multi-part series that will profile a select number of students in new master's program. One part will run every week.

Colin Donohue,
7/28/2009 5:42 PM