BY MICHAEL J. HLYWA |
If you’re going to work to pay the college, why not let the college pay you? For students who qualify for and secure a work-study job, that’s exactly what happens.
Work-study is a government-funded program that provides students in need of financial aid the opportunity to work part time at their college.
According to employment services faculty David Wildfong, those in work-study jobs currently earn $9.18 per hour and work up to 19.5 hours per week fulfilling various tasks assigned by the departments for which they work. That’s a pretty good wage, he says, but the money is only one of the benefits of the program.
“Most of the departments that have work-studies are flexible in terms of scheduling work hours so students can develop a work schedule around their class schedule and their life schedule,” Wildfong said. Plus, he added, “You don’t have to worry about driving to another site.”
But the program is designed with a little more depth in mind than just assigning random clerical duties to broke collegians. Work-study tries to teach valuable professional skills that help build resumes.
“Work-studies work with a variety of populations on campus; they work with faculty and staff, potentially students and alumni – depending on where they’re working out of – as well as the community also,” Wildfong continued. “Work-studies have a great opportunity to network and get good references working under a faculty member or staff member here. It looks good on a resume.”
Wildfong admits that many of the jobs available entail conventional support tasks like processing paperwork, managing appointments and answering phone calls.
For instance, Events Coordinator Rachel Barsch employs work-study students in the Student Activities office and Student Center Community Room to help distribute promotional advertisements, manage event refreshments, and monitor the Community Room.
Barsch explains that due to the nature of the program, work-study students are more restricted than other college employees in terms of what they can do. Still, work-studies learn basic professional behavior, skills and etiquette that transfer to any job.
“The benefits are money and experience – you’re not doing a lot, but you still get computer skills from this. And really, in any job, you do some kind of interaction experience with people,” Barsch said. “And a lot of these students haven’t had many jobs. This is sometimes their first job. So they learn a lot from having a job on campus. We’re always looking for high energy work-studies in our office.”
And students like 20-year-old Wesley Turner, of Ypsilanti, do appreciate the benefits that work-study affords them. Turner, a digital video production major and work-study student in the Community Room, likes that his job helps him balance his social, school and work schedules.
“I don’t have to worry about, ‘Oh I have to drive X-amount of miles to go here (to an off-campus job),’” Turner said, “and if they can’t keep a steady schedule with my job and I have to keep going back and forth and struggle with the stress.”
Turner is also learning to hone vital career skills.
“I’m learning people skills and leadership as well, talking professionally, doing things professional and how to handle certain situations on a more professional level,” he said.
Many jobs, like monitoring the community room, are suitable for just about anyone. Others, like managing a department website, demand more specific skills. All of them, however, require work-study students to apply, interview, and be hired for the job.
“We don’t place them,” Wildfong explained. “We have a list of work-study positions and the students can look at the descriptions, and then they will go out and interview for the position. They may or may not get hired. Even if you do get the work-study funding, you don’t automatically get a job.”
But Wildfong adds that most work-study-eligible people do find jobs. The college works hard to balance the work-study positions available with the students who qualify for funding.
So how do students qualify?
Start by completing a FAFSA. Students need to indicate that they are interested in work-study opportunities when they apply for financial aid. Then in mid-August, the financial aid department takes the limited funding given to them by the government and distributes it to interested students, starting with those who demonstrate the greatest need, until exhausted.
And that’s the big catch – funding is limited.
According to Financial Aid Director Lori Trapp, the college received only about $230,000 to fund its work-study program for the 2013-14 academic year, which is reduced from prior years. So the Financial Aid office will work hard to award that money to those that truly want it. That’s why it needs students to watch their emails and complete the required request for work-study form, accessed through MyWCC accounts, as soon as it’s available on June 17.
“And it really is going to be the early bird gets the worm, because when we open up the app (on MyWCC), we will award students, if they are eligible, in the order that we receive their request forms.” Trapp concluded.
After that, it’s a mad dash as awarded students vie for the best jobs.
To students looking for a good work-study position, Turner advised: “Keep your head up. Don’t think that it’s always going to be difficult for you. There’s a lot of jobs out there. This one, honestly, I thought wasn’t going to be the job for me. But after I got it, I enjoy working here. So it may seem like something you can never do, but at least give it a shot. You’ll never know.”
Those, like Turner, who are smart enough to submit their FAFSAs early, lucky enough to receive funding and prepared enough to ace their interviews would agree: having the college pay you is awesome.
From redacted incident reports provided by Campus Safety an Security, and interviews with Director Jacques Derosiers.
Malicious destruction of property
Two students pushed a couch across the floor of the Student Center cafeteria, damaging the floor. The incident was reported on March 3 at 8:49 a.m.
Graffiti was found on the walls of the second-floor men’s room in the LA building at 8:52 a.m. on April 26.
Hit and run
A hit and run was reported in Lot 3 on April 26 at 1:43 p.m. No other information was available from Campus Safety and Security.
I guess the feeling can only be compared to what a small child feels on Christmas morning, as she unwraps gifts upon gifts looking for that thing she really wanted. Or maybe like in “The Hunger Games,” when everyone is waiting for names to be selected from a pool of candidates. .
The uncertainty of today’s results kept me up at night. Am I going to get it? Am I going to have to try again next year? .
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a Congressionally mandated lottery program that is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act. We call it the “Green Card Lottery,” because that is what it is, a lottery. .
Every year, the United States government makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas to natives of countries deemed to have low rates of immigration to the U.S. My home country, Argentina has a low rate of immigration, and so, luckily, we are allowed to apply. Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, for example, send more than 50,000 immigrants a year, and so their citizens are ineligible for the program. .
This means that, by applying, I have a mere 0.87 percent chance of getting a permanent residency. That’s nice. And very encouraging. .
As I write these lines, I’m waiting to get the results, which are available annually on May 1 at 12 p.m. EST. The longest 20 minutes of my life. .
I can now say that I feel like I’m in “The Hunger Games.” Names were selected and mine wasn’t picked. Only that this time, I am not going straight to battle. .
Since I applied, I knew that my chances were slim. It is a mild disappointment that I didn’t get it, because, as everyone knows – and I make sure that they know – I want to stay in the U.S. If not permanently, at least for the next 5-10 years. .
There are other ways to stay in the United States permanently. I could become a perennial student, or marry a citizen, or just never leave and stay here as an undocumented immigrant. But I am not sure any of these three options really suit me. .
So from now until October, when the new application opens up, I hope that the Immigration Reform Bill is passed and that it actually benefit us. If the reform is not passed, then I will play the lottery again, and hope for better results.
MST graduate Tom Zempel, 72, of Ann Arbor with his Harley Davidson 1200cc Sportster. He is the oldest graduate.(Adrian HEdden WASHTENAW VOICE)
BY BEN SOLIS |
If Motorcycle Service Technology (MST) instructor Mark Daily could use one phrase to describe MST graduate Tom Zempel, he’d colorfully refer to him as “a Harley Davidson poster boy.”
“Have you seen him? He’s in great shape, the guy runs marathons. He wears leather jackets and jeans all the time. You could put him on a Harley poster,” Daily said of Zempel’s appearance, as if describing Peter Fonda’s classic character in the film “Easy Rider.”
A retired machinist and an avid biker for a good portion of his life, Zempel is more than just a physical remnant of an ageless 20th-century motorcycle fixation – he is also one of Washtenaw Community College’s oldest students, graduating this year with a certificate in Motorcycle Service Technology.
And at the age of 72, Zempel also clocks out as the oldest person in Washtenaw’s 2013 graduating class.
For the average student, the MST program is a means aspiring gearheads to go out and get work as certified motorcycle technicians or custom manufacturers. Yet Zempel’s motivations for taking and completing the acclaimed courses at Washtenaw stemmed from his lifelong appreciation of the almighty hog.
Starting in his mid-20s, Zempel became fascinated with motorcycles, but never really owned one except for a dirt bike he’d take up north, hitting as many dirt trails as he could.
When the responsibilities of family life took prominence, his dreams of fulfilling his highway hobby vanished, prompting Zempel to reevaluate the potential costs of running at top speeds on the open road.
“I was just starting to raise a family with kids and I thought ‘what would happen to them if I got hurt?” Zempel said.
As the years passed, Zempel moved to Ann Arbor after meeting his second wife Shirley 22 years ago. Working for most of his career at Crosstown Tool and Die in Redford and later for Gladwin-Gladco in Taylor, Zempel made his way machining parts for automobiles, constantly reminded of the imitable thrills he received from riding.
Eventually, the subliminal pressure of working with auto parts for decades on end became too much for Zempel to take lying down, and in 2008 he bought a new bike to satisfy his old obsession – this time a Honda CBR 250.
“It was right after the economy went bad and gas was up $4 a gallon, so I thought about getting another one,” Zempel said. “It wasn’t that good on the highway so I decided then to get a Harley 1200CC Sportster.”
His Sportster stirred him to buy two more motorcycles, a Softail Heritage and a Harley Davidson Bagger series, respectively.
But before he could get on the mounts of his steel stallions, Zempel decided to take a few motorcycle safety courses, choosing Washtenaw in 2009 because of its reputation and experience.
“I went (to WCC) before and took a few Lifelong Learning classes, so I knew a few of the instructors,” he said. “I thought ‘it wouldn’t be a bad idea to learn a few new things about my bike,’ so I took one class (in MST).”
That one class turned into a 2 ½-year commitment to learning everything Washtenaw could teach him about motorcycles.
Never missing a class and absorbing the information like a sponge, Zempel dove right in, taking on new skills without fear, such as welding and fabrication – these two aspects became his favorite parts of the course load, he said.
Daily wishes he had many more like him.
“For me as an instructor, having him in the class was a chance for me to gain some wisdom from him, because I don’t see too many students like him,” Daily said. “These older guys have a different outlook on how they’re approaching the classes. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from him.
“Different things that you just can’t learn from a 23-year-old.”
The main difference between his young students and those like Zempel, Daily explained, is that the older guys aren’t distracted by the same things that 20-year-olds usually are, like the natural anxiety of trying to find a job in a barren market.
“Some of these older gentlemen, they’ve been riding motorcycles a long time, usually Harley Davidsons, and that’s the culture they come from. They’re coming from the biker culture,” Daily said. “Tom, he took the classes just so he could learn more about his motorcycles. He didn’t have any aspirations or illusions about going out in the field and working again, although the curriculum is designed for people to go in the private sector and work.”
Zempel is content with his life right now. He’s retired. He can ride when he wants to, sometimes with Shirley, 70, a nurse at the University of Michigan hospital. She took an interest in motorsports around the same time he did. Shirley rides with him on the back of his Heritage.
He has two sons, both in their mid-40s living in California. He has a handful of grandchildren and just recently became a great-grandfather.
But like any recently graduated college student, Zempel is itching to put his new skills to use, in one way or another.
“The tool-and-die industry is a dying trade,” said Zempel, weighing whether or not he wants to take his certification further by getting licensed as a motorcycle mechanic.
With his age, Zempel knows it would be tough to go back out, but Daily said his former student would be up for the challenge.
“The motorsports business is like anything else – it’s a game. The ones that play right win,” Daily said. “Tom, the guy’s just incredible. He ran a 13-mile (half) marathon at the time he was 71 (years old).
“And he never missed a class. He learned everything I was teaching him in the curriculum. I think he can do it.”
BY BEN SOLIS |
While most students leave Washtenaw Community College with some sort of degree in-hand, or maybe a handful of transferable credits for a four-year university, long-time Edibles employees Karen and Andrea Sakall are leaving the campus with a much more dire set of circumstances: sudden unemployment.
After seven years of serving fresh-food meals to Washtenaw’s hungry students, Edibles and its parent company Continental Canteen Services will end its contract with the college on June 30.
Its replacement company, Aramark, is scheduled to take over the next day on July 1. With its arrival, Aramark plans to bring in a slew of new restaurants to the newly renovated Student Center, ranging from the Mexican cuisine of Zoca to shopping mall favorite Panda Express.
Up until that June 30 deadline, the Starbucks-addled Bakuzio’s Coffee Shop will remain open for business for summer students. Afterward, the café will change its name to The Hub.
Subway, unlike the other two offerings, will continue to be a fixture as Aramark takes over.
However, Edibles was not lucky enough to be granted a stay of execution – the small grill and pizza shop ended its tenure two weeks ago as classes wound down for the winter semester.
For the mother-daughter team who cooked and served the food at Edibles so often they knew their regulars’ orders by heart, their last day on the job was filled with a solemnity that only a few words could describe.
“This is a sad day,” said Karen Sakall, 68, of Ypsilanti Township.
Due to the impending change in vendors, the space that Edibles called home needs to renovated, cleaned and updated with new equipment to house the nearly six new vendors, according to a packet of information given to the college’s Board of Trustees by Director of Budget and Purchasing Services Barb Fillinger.
Continental employees were notified of the change close to two months ago, giving many in its workforce the chance to start looking for new jobs. Neither Fillinger nor Continental General Manager Karen Course knew if Aramark planned to hire any of the existing employees.
Yet the same cannot be said of the Sakalls, who opened and closed Edibles each day the provider was open this year. With their busy work schedules and their dedication to the company, the Sakalls have had little time to go out and hunt for other positions.
Out of options, they are hoping they can be transferred to other Continental-owned locations.
“The job market is lousy, and I’m over 50 (years old),” said the elder Sakall, her infectious smile going flat as she contemplates the future. “They can’t place us until the contract ends, or until positions open up in the company. That could take a year.”
Course chose Karen and her daughter Andrea, 37, to be the face of Edibles because of the friendly atmosphere they brought to the lunch line.
The students they served noticed their upbeat personalities immediately, and for a few of them, the prospect of not having them around is an outrage.
“This is ridiculous. I am not a happy camper about this,” said Yvonne King, a criminal just major from Ann Arbor. “This is just a shame. I don’t eat anywhere else.”
Mary Brady, a 42-year-old environmental science major from Ypsilanti, shares King’s disappointment.
“It’s about the people, I could care less about the vendor,” Brady said. “I love them (the Sakalls). They ask me about my classes, they know the students orders. I hope they can keep their jobs.”
Course, equally devastated by the loss of Continental’s contract, said that feedback like that from their customers is why she got into the business of restaurant management in the first place.
“As a manager, we hope to portray to the customers that we do care,” said Course, fighting back tears as she speaks. “We’re not here because it’s our job. We’re here to take care of people and to make their experience enjoyable.”
Course will also have to seek employment elsewhere if Continental does relocate her.
Leaving Washtenaw, she said, “has been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us.”
BY MICHAEL J. HLYWA |
WCC pioneers free textbook program
Washtenaw will be the first Michigan community college to eliminate textbook costs by implementing free alternatives in a few sections of its most popular courses this fall.
The college received $3,000 from the Cerritos College Foundation to pilot a curriculum that utilizes open education resources to reduce the cost of education for students.
Select sections of College Reading and Study Skills, Introduction to Psychology and Intermediate Algebra will use OER this fall.
“We chose subjects that represent some of our highest enrollments to pilot this effort,” WCC President Rose Bellanca said in a press release. “Our goal is to give the broadest range of students, especially those at risk, access to all course materials the first day of class. It is a real honor to be the first community college in Michigan offering this opportunity to students.”
Gallery One to drench walls with student art
WCC students will have a chance to display their best water works in Gallery One this summer for all to admire.
Every year, Gallery One hosts a student art show that showcases a sample of the best student work from Washtenaw’s various visual arts programs.
“What we do for the student show is we invite the faculty to select the best work from that year, and then I get together with at least one faculty member and we get it down to a group that we can fit into the gallery,” said Gallery One director Anne Rubin.
But this year, Rubin decided to mix it up a bit. In response to the college’s “Year of Water” theme, she asked that student submissions incorporate water somehow.
“This is the first time that we have invited the arts programs at WCC to ask students to respond to a theme, so all the work will be on that theme,” Rubin said.
The Gallery One student art show opens on June 6 and runs through June 28. The gallery is hosting an event on June 13 that begins with a poetry reading at 11:30 a.m., when English students will share both their own works and popular published poems. A reception, with refreshments, follows from 2-4 p.m.
Gallery One is located on the first floor of the Student Center and is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Declining enrollment results in hiring freeze
The college has declared a hiring freeze for new part-time support positions.
According to an email sent out by Director of Human Resource Services Christine Mihaly, this decision was made to “better align part-time employment with enrollment.”
Held postings include clerical and non-clerical Level I & II Support; non-teaching faculty, including counselors, lab assistants, student advisers and librarians; and student-worker positions.
The freeze does not apply to part-time grant-funded or teacher positions.
Current part-time employees may be re-authorized for employment for the upcoming academic year.
This decision will be re-evaluated once final enrollment figures for this fall are in, Mihaly wrote.
Free training for HVA volunteers
Huron Valley Ambulance is implementing two new free training programs for citizens interested in volunteering.
The first is a seven-week program starting June 11 that prepares participants to take the state Medical First Responder certification. Classes meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings and some Saturdays.
The second will prepare volunteers to assist in community education and administrative tasks.
Those interested should call 734-477-6331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family fly fishing fun
Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited is offering four fly-fishing classes to individuals and families in June.
Mike Mouradian and other AATU instructors will be teaching casting, knot tying, fly identification and entomology.
Rods, flies, fly-fishing instruction books and snacks will be provided. Casting is practiced on the lawn, so waders are unnecessary. Attendees should wear polarized sunglasses and appropriate attire.
One general fly-fishing class, open to anyone age 16 or older, will be held on June 2 from 1-5 p.m.
Two women’s classes are held: one on June 1 from 1-5 p.m. and one on June 2 from 8:30 a.m.-noon. The cost for both the general and women’s classes is $25 for Huron River Watershed Council members and $35 for non-members.
One family class, restricted to children 11 or older with an adult, is offered June 1 from 8:30 a.m.-noon. The cost is $35 for HRWC member families and $40 for non-member families.
All classes are limited to 15 registered participants and will be held at Lillie Park North, 4365 Platt Road in Ann Arbor.
Contact Derek Schrader for more information by phone at 734-769-5123 ext. 612 or email at email@example.com.
Josiah Wilseck, 16, of Salem is the youngest graduate at WCC. During his four semesters as a broadcast student, he hosted a weekly smooth jazz radio show at Orchard Radio.(Adrian Hedden WASHTENAW VOICE)
BY ADRIAN HEDDEN |
As Josiah Wilseck entered the halls of Washtenaw Community College for the first time in 2010, his classmates were amazed as they attempted to guess the age of the small but friendly student who happily joined them in college before many could even drive.
“It was a little strange being there with all the old people, but I got used to it,” he said. “It was funny the first couple of weeks, but that diversity was one of the best parts.”
Only 14 at the time, Wilseck would soon overcome the playful ribbing, trim his awkwardly round haircut and shed the taunts of “Beiber” or “Justin.” He will walk this spring as the youngest graduate from WCC at 16.
But his 4.0 grade-point average and charismatic confidence may have had its start years ago under the watchful leadership of his mother Andrea.
When Andrea moved her family from South Lyon to Salem in 2005, the mother of four was anxious to provide better opportunities to her children as college became imminent.
A student at WCC herself from 1985 to 1987, Andrea gained a transfer degree and studied social work at Michigan State University, where she found her career and a bachelor’s degree.
Then after 16 years raising her children, Andrea was amazed at the employability she had maintained through that final milestone.
“It’s not really a choice,” she said of her goal for her children to all gain four-year degrees. “That’s how I grew up. No one can take away that degree. You just dust off that piece of paper, and it’s still good.”
Now located in-district from Washtenaw Community College, the Wilsecks would see all four of their children graduate from WCC over the past three years, taking advantage of the Washtenaw Technical Middle College program for high school students.
But Andrea’s dedication to giving her kids the best education possible didn’t end with finding a school and moving. Home-schooled under their mother’s tutelage until ninth grade, the Wilsecks found their transition and gradual exposure to larger student bodies surprisingly enriching and well-supported as their academic careers took shape.
The eldest Wilseck, Ahna, attended WCC from 2008-2010 along with her brother Roy. They would both complete transfer programs to four-year schools.
This year, Lydia, 18, will be finishing a transfer degree and intends to study psychology at Eastern Michigan University as Josiah is leaving the WTMC program this year with associate degree in broadcast arts and liberal arts transfer.
And the siblings found that the natural collaboration they created in those early years at home have strengthened their skills and prepared them for higher education like no study guide or tutorial ever could.
“Since the curriculum (at home) was catered to us, we were able to move along at our own pace,” Lydia said. “This allowed us to complete assignments faster and gave us better studying techniques. By the end, we were basically reading the textbooks and teaching ourselves.
“Basic stuff that a lot of people struggle with became second nature to us. We’ve grown a lot going to school together; we check up on each other’s classes.”
But the success of their older siblings did weigh on the minds of the younger Wilsecks as they attempted to persevere with little sympathy for failure.
“It was kinda like: ‘you better do well,’” Josiah said. “But it was good pressure, made me work harder.”
Such a will for success would manifest, especially in the beginning, as a light-hearted sibling rivalry steeped joyously in a dedication to the one common goal of graduation.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Lydia said. “My sister got all A’s. But I thought it would be harder. There is a little bit of competition, but it’s mostly a joke. He (Josiah) gets more credit because he’s younger.”
But his age hasn’t always been a credit to the last Wilseck to finish at WCC. Dedicated to the field of sports media and hoping to one day provide color commentary at big events, Josiah immediately recognized the importance of a good internship, but struggled to find one willing to hire a 15-year-old.
“He really had a hard time finding an internship at first because of his age,” Andrea said. “They had things they might need him to do at four in the morning and he couldn’t drive so it was very hard at first.”
But as Josiah ultimately began to drive, and break curfew, he was able to secure internships at Cumulus Media and a sports talk show on 1050 WTKA Ann Arbor, with the help of WCC instructors. These experiences, he said, gave him a behind-the-scenes awareness of the field he desired and furthered his WCC education beyond the classroom.
“Getting an internship was tough at first, being so young,” Josiah said. “But I pretty much know all sports, whatever I can watch. I’d love to work at a place like ESPN or Fox. I’ve always wanted to work in sports.”
And so his mother has resolved that she, too, now has some homework to do.
“I do have mixed feelings about him doing play-by-play,” Andrea said. “He’s just so smart, so I can’t believe he just wants to be the guy who says who has the ball. But I just have to start getting more sports-minded.”
Josiah will be furthering his studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas this fall, but he believes his hard-working philosophy and perfectionism will undoubtedly carry him wherever he chooses.
“Go to class, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “Just do the assignments even if you’re unsure because any grade is better than nothing.”
Reeling winners: Film festival winners Justin Erion, Jeremy Liesen, Steve Weed and Shane Law rejoice in their achievement. Liesen won Best in Show award for his film ‘Transitions’(Nathan Clark WASHTENAW VOICE)
BY NATALIE WRIGHT |
Five students took home awards at the annual Digital Film & Animation Festival presented by Washtenaw Community College’s Digital Media Arts program.
The prize for “Best in Show” went to Jeremy Liesen, a digital video production major, for his film “Transitions.” The film is a music video featuring Liesen’s own music and makes use of what he has learned about using a green screen in his video classes at WCC, he said. Liesen, 27, a resident of Ypsilanti, also won the “Most Creative” award for “The Projection Project” at the May 1 show.
Steve Weed, another digital video production student won the “Best Editing” award for his film “Enter Dark Room.” “Best Cinematography” went to Justin Erion for his film “Stark Dark.”
“Best Documentary” went to James Militzer for “Robert Fletcher Story,” in which Korean War veteran Robert Fletcher describes his time in the war and as a prisoner of war, as well as the difficulties in transitioning into civilian life.
“Best Promotional Spot” was awarded to Travis Reynolds for his flipbook film “Distracted.” And “Best Motion Graphics went to Shane Law for his film, “Internal Affairs.”
The festival, in its 12th year, was held in Towsley Auditorium. The films were judged by a group of professionals in the video, television, production and art industries.
Matt Zacharias, a digital media arts instructor who helped organize the show, said judges had a very difficult time settling on the winners.
“I’ve never seen the judges so 12-angry-menish. There were four angry men in there. And they burned quite a few brain cells trying to decide,” he said.
“It was an absolute war zone in there,” said Scott Allen, 29, one of the judges, and a former WCC student.
This was the strongest year for the show since he’s been at WCC, according to Weed. “I think it was better than previous years because there are a lot of more experienced students this year,” said the Ann Arbor resident.
“Things have improved quickly, incredibly, here at Washtenaw,” agreed Dan Kier, another instructor who helped organize the festival.
And even the students who went home without an award said they felt honored to have films in the festival.
“I think the festival is great because it gives people the recognition they need and deserve for their work,” said Jessica Brusher, 19, a digital video production student from Trenton. “It’s just an opportunity to celebrate and share how hard we’ve worked and what we’ve made.”
The festival also gives the students a chance network with peers in their program.
“When we’re in the classroom, we’re isolated to that small group of people.” said Marc Stephens, 40, a digital video production student from Ann Arbor. “We don’t get to see the breadth of work in the program. Like 90 percent of the pieces this year, I hadn’t seen before.”
Audra Meagher, another video student, added that seeing other students’ work can be very beneficial in a program like video production, where work is often done in groups.
“We get to appreciate and scout other people,” the 25-year-old Westland resident said. “If I see that someone has talent, I might want to work with them on my next project. There’s some hot talent here.”
Nick Campbell, 21, a video student from Saline said that the best part of the event, is the inspiration he draws from seeing his peers’ work.
“It just always motivates me to want to make more movies,” he said.
And because of that, the festival will live on.
Photos and Words BY KELLY BRACHA |
It marks the end of an exhausting but rewarding journey for many graphic design and photography students. But it also marks the beginning of a whole other struggle – finding work.
Marketing yourself can be just as important as the quality of work, at least according to Darlene Hawver, a graphic design major showcasing her work at this year’s semester-ending Digital Media Arts exhibit, more widely known as The Gala.
“A Web presence is so important now,” said Hawver, 31, from Ann Arbor. “A lot of people passing through have taken my resume and business card. But it’s really competitive here.”
Hawver displayed her brand “Upper Peninsula Pasty” and other designed products with an organic, handwritten feel.
“As far as the exhibit goes, we do come expecting that it will produce some freelance work,” Hawver said. “I’ve had a lot of freelance work, and I haven’t even finished my associates.”
Linda Babcock, part-time instructor in business and computer technologies, was roaming the exhibit within the Morris Lawrence building, where more than 40 students displayed their work.
“This is a really terrific opportunity for our students to put their best foot forward and show their work to all kinds of people,” Babcock said. “There are some employers that come, but this is also a celebration of their work.”
A few hours before the exhibit opens to the public, judges and some industry professionals seeking to hire take a look at the students’ work.
“There’s not a lot of hiring going on in the field today,” Babcock said. “There’s freelance work, but it’s a matter of marketing yourself.”
For any young professional, having an online portfolio or even a website featuring a resume is another way to put yourself out there.
John Dinser, part-time business and computer instructor, compared job-seeking to apartment hunting in New York City.
“Everyone has a different story on getting an apartment in New York, yet every-day people are doing it,” Dinser said. “It’s different for everybody, and there’s no specific path on how to do it.”
With the Internet, it has become increasingly easy, while simultaneously harder, to stand out among others seeking a job in graphic design or photography.
“The Internet has made the pool a lot bigger. Before, there were barriers to get work. Before you had to be so good and advertise and be in certain circles,” Dinser said. “It’s a bittersweet thing. Marketing yourself is always the hardest.”
Within the graphic design program is a class specifically to prepare students on seeking employment. The Professional Practices (GDT 290) course gives students experience in job-hunting and portfolio preparation.
During the course, students are able to conduct mock interviews with actual employers and creative directors. The students get constructive feedback on their interview and use the experience to further tailor their resume and portfolio.
Photography major Joshua Chamberlain, 25, from Ohio, presented his portfolio at the exhibit. Among his work were large-format black-and-white portraits, each taking almost 16 hours to complete from studio setup to print.
“We’re all passionate about doing this long-term,” Chamberlain said. “The expectation for work is there, but it’s not the driving force.”
BY KELLY BRACHA |
A long and arduous journey for Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler came to a pivotal point when ESPN announced that Detroit is now a finalist in the bid to become host city of the Summer X Games.
Krease, Koehler and a number of city administrators, business leaders and other supporters submitted their official bid for the project in April. Joining Detroit as finalist are Chicago, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, N.C.
This will be the first time in more than 10 years that the X Games will be hosted outside of Southern California’s downtown Los Angeles area.
“The X Games have grown significantly and has been enjoyed by millions of fans over the past 10 years in Los Angeles,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and X Games, said in a statement. “Our partners AEG and the city of Los Angeles have been instrumental in our success. As we embark on a year of significant global expansion and transformation for X Games in 2013, we are excited about the potential each of these cities bring, and look forward to identifying our next host city for the X Games.”
Krease, 27, and Koehler, 26, started working on the bid last August.
“This final stage is really bringing them in and continuing this theme of opportunity, of creativity, of really, community grass-roots support,” Krease said. “What we need to do now is expose the X Games to this community of support locally and continue communicating to them what we view as the changing tides of people and of new life and new beginning and new opportunity, and making ESPN feel like they’re continuing this revitalization of the city.”
Washtenaw Community College student and avid BMXer Ryan Marsden cannot wait for the opportunity to see the X Games in person.
“I always wanted to go to Los Angeles to see the games, but never had the chance,” said Marsden, 19, a liberal arts major from Ann Arbor. “If they come to Detroit, it’ll be like a dream come true for me.”
Marsden has been interested in BMX (bicycle motocross) since high school.
“My friends and I used to make dirt paths and make our own obstacles and ramps,” he said. “I was hooked and since then it has been a huge hobby of mine.”
ESPN may decide on a host city as early as June. Officials will be spending the next 4-6 weeks visiting finalist cities.
“The site visit is our chance to show ESPN an authentic feel of what it’ll be like for the X Games to be in Detroit,” Krease said. “Our motto is ‘make it so ESPN can’t say no.’”
The X Games could create a significant economic impact on the city of Detroit as well as a much-needed boost in tourism.
“Detroit will be the perfect venue,” said Ben Clarke, owner of People Skate and Snowboard in Keego Harbor. “Detroiters will really work for it on a grass-roots level. You won’t see the same passion or participation from youth and young adults in any other major city.”
Detroit’s bid started a Facebook and Twitter campaign and a website encouraging people to sign up and “join the movement.”
“To potentially connect with a city like Detroit, which clearly is on the way back,” ESPN’s Guglielmino said, “and to be able to support that is a very intriguing proposition to us.”