Scholar Q&A: Kyla Pigoni '13
Abby Sophir (a class of 2014 television-radio major from St. Louis, Missouri) spoke with Park Scholar Kyla Pigoni '13, a journalism major from Geyserville, California), about her experiences in the Park Scholar Program.
The Park Scholar program is not just a scholarship but a community. As a senior who has spent three years as part of this community, what does it mean to you?
The community is truly the best part of the program. Not having to worry as much about finances is great, but the real award is the family that you have from day one. My freshman year, I was fortunate enough to receive a ton of support from the senior class. They would drive myself and my other Park Scholar friend whenever we needed groceries, helped us study for finals and provided reassurance that a bad midterm grade was not the end of the world. Living with my class in Terrace 3 was great as well because we all had 13 friends before school even started. We had fun together, held late night study sessions and helped each other integrate into the college routine. As I've gone through the years, the alumni from the program have provided great connections. I met some great people while abroad in Los Angeles, received an amazing summer internship thanks to the help from a PS alumna and am now confident in what I want to do thanks to those networking opportunities. The Park Scholar community really means support. Whether I need something or can offer my own skills, I can always count on the program to be there.
A major component of the Park Scholar award is a commitment to service. In what ways have you been able to give back to the community through the Park Scholar Award?
Service has been a great part of my college years. I've been involved in several community service programs, but the opportunities that have meant the most have been my work with IC Student United Way, SPCA and a service trip to Mexico. I've been involved with IC Student United Way since I was a freshman, and my role within the club has evolved over the years. I started out helping to plan the annual Family Carnival, moved up to be a member of the club and am now working to recreate the group on campus so that it works more as a committee geared towards educating the community on issues such as health, education and income. The SPCA has been my weekly stress-reducer for about three years. I have worked at the mall annex as a cat socializer and most recently as a dog walker at the main building. I love working with the animals because there is more to a community than just the people! Finally, my trip to Mexico last fall was truly eye-opening. While it was only a one-time event, it changed the way that I thought about service. Seeing the hardships faced by the citizens and speaking with the residents helped me to see that we really are fortunate, and should do everything we can to help others.
How has this changed your college experience?
By staying involved with my organizations, I am learning a lot. There is so much more to college than classes and internships. Staying involved in the community has allowed me to grow as an individual and learn more about those around me. I love seeing the change that I can make, and also enjoy finding ways that I can continue to escalate the programs I'm involved with. Not only does it create a challenge for myself, but it creates better change in the community.
What other activities have you been involved with on campus?
Besides my work in the community, I am involved with a few groups on campus. I am currently a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee (SCGC), a member of the leadership team at IC Annual Fund's Phonathon and am helping to plan the spring's Concert for a Cure. Prior to this year, I worked as the managing editor for 360 Magazine for two years. My on-campus activities are a lot of fun and have helped me develop skills that I'm planning to use towards my desired career. SCGC and IC Annual Fund have allowed me to grow my interpersonal communication and leadership skills, 360 was an excellent way to build my writing and organization skills and Concert for a Cure represents my fondness for event planning (a passion that arose courtesy of all the PS service projects I've worked on!).
You spent the last fall in LA interning with Conan and the summer at The Colbert Report, can you tell me about those experiences?
My internships with Conan and Colbert were phenomenal. Prior to working with them, I was really focused on a career in the world of print journalism. I never considered television and tried my hardest to avoid it at all costs. However, when the opportunity to intern with Conan came up, I knew I couldn't say no. I spent the semester learning as much as I could about the world of production, and as a result I have changed my mind about what I want to pursue in the future. My summer at Colbert was equally amazing. I heard about the internship from a PS alumna and almost turned it down due to fear of living in NYC on my own for a summer, and the financial hardships associated with that. After talking with the alumna and a few others in the program, I realized how ridiculous those fears were. I went out of my comfort zone, took the spot and had the best summer of my life. I learned the differences between west and east coast production, met some amazing people and learned more about myself. None of these opportunities would have been possible without the scholarship.
You will be graduating in 7 months! How has being a Park Scholar prepared you for the "real world"?
I'm one of the weird seniors who is actually really excited to graduate! I am loving every second of college life, but courtesy of my internships and recent interactions with alumni from the program, I know that I am ready. The program has connected me with some really great people and their reassurances and support has made me realize that when I graduate, I'm not leaving the program behind--I'm merely entering the next level of it.
If you had to pick one, what has been your favorite Park Scholar event so far?
My favorite event by far has been the shadowing trip. I've known for a while now that I want to pursue a career with The Walt Disney Company, but I was really unsure about the types of jobs they offered and where I could fit in to the company. Courtesy of Park Scholar Alumnus Greg Dunbar, I am now a bit more confident with my chosen field. I spent the weekend shadowing him at a screening, a premiere and at his office learning about the different aspects of the NYC portion of the company and he really helped me get a feel for the environment. While I know that I am a few years off from my dream job, I know that I will be able to reach it someday.