As a MA+P student, what is your primary interest and how has the School of Cinematic Arts (and the Division) helped to shape that interest? My main interest lies in using media to shape our social sphere. The public eye is currently focused on media and emerging technologies, such as the latest Apple product or VR advancement. I know we can use these tools to inform and mobilize the public into becoming involved with issues around the world.
The MA+P program at SCA has played a large part in this by opening my mind up to new concepts and points of view. It has exposed me to all sorts of new technology and perspectives. Through discussion and scholarly discourse, I’ve also been encouraged to both challenge and defend my thoughts, often resulting in an adjustment of them.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying for MA+P? I would advise everyone to keep an open mind about what you want to learn during your time here. The MA+P program has an incredible amount of flexibility in terms of the subject matter being covered. Students with multiple, diverse areas of concentration should definitely consider applying because of the exploratory nature of the program. You never feel the need to constrain your interests. If anything, you’ll discover more of them.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? SCA continues to help me understand how to maximize the impact of every graphic I use, every word I write. The courses I’ve taken have placed an emphasis on discussion, the kind that opens up your mind in every possible way. Additionally, the School of Cinematic Arts has given me access to the greatest tools possible. On the technical side alone, students are given access to top-notch equipment and are exposed to workshops featuring the latest technologies. But more importantly, students are given access to the leaders in our fields. My professors have written the books that other professors study, so to have these people review and critique your work is an incredible asset.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? The biggest challenge so far has been learning to work with my creative mind. In the past, my work was largely based on the concrete. Here, everything is much more abstract. The questions you ask, as well as the answers you seek, are heavily based on intangible concepts. There is no definitive right or wrong, so it often becomes a question of what you, as a creator, are satisfied with. As such, the work you do in the MA+P program is quite introspective. At office hours, I was often faced with the question, “Well, what do you think?” That was a bit overwhelming at first, simply because I was not used to asking myself that. What do I think? What do I care about? What drives me? These questions are daunting. But even more so, they’re liberating.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? Growing up as an Asian-American woman, I’ve felt that my culture has given me a lot to work with. Someone like me going into a non-STEM field is a rarity in my community, and I want to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones. I’ve also used media as an outlet to explore my cultural background and the struggles that accompany it.
One thing that gives me inspiration is the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. I’ve been involved in politics for nearly my whole life, and I’ve never seen a campaign like it. It managed to mobilize millions of voters across the country from the ground up, starting from almost nothing and ending as a serious competitor. The campaign demonstrated how powerful media can be when used right, and I hope to do something similar with my work.