I have learned so much these past five days. So. Much. And not just from SXSW sessions. I have learned the most from the SXSW CAM Ambassadors.
These students have reaffirmed my decision to work in higher education and why (several years ago) I had chosen to get a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education administration. They have reminded me of my purpose and that I am on the right track.
I am appreciative of them for telling me how they came to be a College of Arts & Media student, of sharing their personal and creative journeys and, most importantly, for giving me new lenses to view the world and culture we live in.
These students are working hard to create a new reality for themselves – in large and small ways. Whether it be bucking the trend that a typical work day has to start at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.; or that larger systems need major changes to make education available to all; or to create awareness and movement to make the act of getting a government-issued ID easier for those who have been adopted – these students are thinking critically, acting and making a difference.
Sure, they came to SXSW to meet and learn from industry professionals, but what they didn’t know was that industry professionals have learned from them. Professionals from the likes of big-name producers and directors to Disney imagineers have met these students. They have impressed their peers from the University of Michigan, University of Denver and Virginia Tech with talk about their documentary film-making experiences, recording arts and talent managing skills and their prowess with UI/UX design.
These students may be walking away with mind-blowing experiences from SXSW, but I’m walking away from having my mind blown by these students. I am so honored to have had the chance to be with them on this trip and to get to know them. However, what I am most excited and eager about is to continue telling their stories and bragging about all the great things they are doing (and can do). What’s even more exciting is knowing I have established what I hope to be a lifelong connection with these amazing students and that I’ll have the chance to tell the story that’s written in the next chapter of their book beyond graduation.
To Ana, Elysia, Katey, Kelly, Nico and Tyler – thank you.