Interactive Profiles: Returning Student Relishes the Unknown

Dave Hollander has lived, to some degree, a vagabond lifestyle. His travels to points east, west, north and south in the United States were sometimes directionless, sometimes more structured. But no matter what, he always let life come to him because, as he says, he enjoys open-ended journeys and destinations with no clear outcome.

Dave Hollander

The unknown is a challenge he’s fully embraced for most of his 35 years, and it’s one he began revisiting this week when he started as a student in Elon’s Interactive Media master’s program.

Hollander started out east at home in Connecticut, moved south to attend college at Colgate University in New York, headed west to Salt Lake City, then came back to Connecticut, went to Portland, Maine, and eventually found his way to Greensboro, N.C. His latest expedition has landed him in Elon, in the one year, full-time iMedia program.

“It’s definitely going to be accelerated and that’s going to be a challenge, for sure,” Hollander says. “At the same time, the benefit is 10 months later, you’re going to be graduating with this degree. So the schedule looks pretty intense, for sure, especially for someone who is just starting to reintroduce themselves to this media world. It’s intimidating to look at, and a challenge once I get into it.”

The iMedia program will prepare Hollander and his 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.

Hollander says he felt the pull to reengage with the new media world because of his experience in Salt Lake City years ago. He decided to move to Utah after a stint as a paralegal turned him off to the possibility of law school. So, he says, he packed up, drove west and wound up in Salt Lake with no job.

But he had a plan.

“I had roughly mapped out this path that I’d love to explore sports journalism, specifically broadcasting,” says Hollander, who majored in philosophy at Colgate. “I was young enough that I didn’t think about anything else than, ‘Hey, it made sense and why not?’”

There, he met a writer for a Utah Jazz magazine, who put Hollander in touch with the people in the Jazz’s broadcast outlet, KJZZ-TV. Hollander began interning with KJZZ, and eventually did some directing, producing and editing. He worked there for six years, but a family illness pulled him out of Salt Lake and back to Connecticut.

“I actually ended up leaving the job under difficult circumstances, and it didn’t end on my terms,” Hollander says. “I always felt a pretty strong pull back towards production.”

Hollander says within the last year, that tug back to TV became too strong for him to ignore so he began looking for programs that would reintroduce him to the media world he was forced to leave.

“I figured the skills I had accumulated at (KJZZ-TV) were probably, at best, outdated, but more likely obsolete,” he says. “I know I would need to update my skill set.”

He needs some renewed knowledge because ever since leaving Salt Lake, he really hasn’t dabbled in production or broadcast media. He taught at-risk students in Portland, Maine, for a little while, when he began to coach swim. A lifelong swimmer himself, Hollander found a passion for coaching and a job doing it, so he moved to Greensboro in 2005 to work for the YMCA.

Since then, he’s given up coaching, but he co-founded StrokeView Underwater Recording Systems less than a year ago with a parent of one of the children he used to coach. StrokeView designs and sells underwater video training systems and equipment to coaches, teams and training facilities.

Hollander says he wants to continue supporting StrokeView well into the future, but his sights now are firmly targeted on his new challenge as a student in the iMedia program.

“I always pictured myself in a graduate program setting,” he says. “I always wanted to get a graduate degree, and it just became very apparent that this was a very good direction for me personally and professionally.”

Hollander says he could envision going back into television and helping a station gain more interactivity and creativity in its programming. He could also see himself working for any number of organizations, helping them navigate new platforms and ensuring that they reach a new audience.

As always, though, he’s open to whatever comes his way. And his life’s motto—take open ended journeys with unclear destinations—well, that’s also what led him to Elon.

“I encountered some degree programs that said, ‘We’re going to teach you these skills, and when you’re done, you’re going to do this job,’” Hollander says. “I think what attracted me to Elon instantly when I stumbled upon the program is instead of trying to predict the future, the goal is to put us in a position to be part of determining that future.

“Instead of teaching you this so you can become this, we’ll be taught, ‘These are the current tools, the technologies, the platforms that are out there. This is how they’re used. But here’s a way for you to be a part of the process in determining the direction in which they head.’ That really appealed to me and my personal goals.”

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.

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