4/25/2016 Gregory L. Wright

Senior Spotlight: Finding Passion in Film's Storytelling Experience

As they prepare for their May 7 Commencement Ceremony, Franklin & Marshall seniors look back at their four years on campus—and what's next.

Name: Dominic Akena

Major: Joint in Psychology/Film & Media Studies

Hometown: Originally from the Patongo Village in northern Uganda; now lives in Washington D.C.

Activities at F&M: Brooks College House advisor, intramural soccer, USA cycling

What has been your most memorable moment or time here at F&M? Every moment I spent on this campus was memorable. But I will pick one. In fall 2014, I took Art, Culture and Mental Health with Michael Penn. The course was easily my favorite at F&M, but what made it special was the one assignment I had from him to complete the course—I was to make a short documentary film. By this time, I had already declared a joint major in Film and Psychology, so this was a special opportunity to use my digital storytelling experience I had learned from my Film & Media courses to tell people about our class and the psychology department. Professor Penn allowed me to work independently, telling me only that I should create the film that I felt fit best with what we were learning in class. I finished the 20-minute film, and it was shown for the first time at his house, where he had invited several of my classmates and me to dinner for having completed the course successfully. When he finished showing the film, the positive reactions I got from him and my fellow students brought me to tears. Dr. Penn's praise of my work made me realize that I actually was good at something, and I will never forget that feeling.

What did you enjoy most about your time at the College? I certainly liked my classes, but I honestly enjoyed going to my professors' offices for assistance or just to have regular conversations that had nothing to do with academic questions. I enjoyed spending time with my friends. And I truly enjoyed working at the Department of Film & Media's editing lab, always learning and creating things with other incredibly creative students. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn with them.

What are your plans for after graduation? I am waiting for my Optional Practical Training application for employment authorization to be approved. In the meantime, I'm going to take a year away from school and look for work in film and media production field. I'll also use that year to prepare for and apply to master's degree programs in psychology. I hope to start my graduate studies in fall 2017.

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