Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Fairy tales are woven around nuggets of wisdom or truth. When Christina Bryant crafted a fairy tale during her senior year at Ithaca College, she folded in themes that explore her own revelations in life.
Jemila’s Tale is a 10-minute short that Christina wrote, directed, and edited as her senior thesis in the cinema and photography program. It’s about a 6-year-old girl who creates her own fairy tales after her local library runs out of the genre, and it explores themes of identity and ethnic representation through Jemila’s imagination.
“I was inspired to write the short after I'd finished a documentary about black Barbie dolls,” Christina says. “I thought about what it would look like if a young black [girl] created her own images of herself in places she felt excluded, like fairy tales for example.”
Those projects came together after Christina hit her stride as a film student, which she says happened during her last two years at IC. “Once you know the films you want to make, or you know you want to work with a camera, or you want to write, or do production design, your path becomes clear,” Christina says.
Jemila’s Tale was shown in three different film festivals after Christina graduated. She also took a two-month fellowship in North Carolina, followed by volunteer work at several other film festivals, including Sundance and SXSW. Her natural drive meshed well with her IC experience.
“Over the semesters, I actually began to crave a busy schedule because it brought out my best creative work,” Christina says. “Why not take non-major classes like African American Popular Music and Sociology of Sexualities, co-lead a non-profit video project with my fellow Park Scholars, paint a shed during a weekend Habitat for Humanity Build, and find local actors to be extras for a web series about Finger Lakes wine?”
Though she’s left IC, she thinks that work ethic is especially important to her budding film career. “By wearing different hats as a screenwriter, producer, set designer, social media guru, even holding a heavy light or two, I am still just as committed to the larger mission at hand: to tell a good story using film,” Christina says.
“That's how real life is. You have to find your passion in everything, no matter how small.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholars Program
Original photo of Christina and her young actress by Allie Taylor '11, producer of Jemila's Tale.
Eric Leibensperger was always interested in outdoorsy things, and at Ithaca College he became even more interested in the environment. “I eventually double majored in physics and chemistry to learn how to apply science to environmental issues,” he says.
Eric recently completed his Ph.D. at Harvard, and he credits his experiences in Ithaca’s science departments with giving him the ideal foundation for success.
“In a Ph.D. program you’re doing research all the time, and Ithaca was great preparation for that. I did research nearly every semester, and I learned the fundamentals for everything. I learned to think logically. I learned to write and present research. And when you do research at Ithaca, you work side-by-side with faculty and get lots of hands-on experience. At Harvard, that gave me a big leg up on students who’d been undergrads at large research universities but didn’t have that kind of experience,” he observes.
Eric’s doctoral thesis examines climate change from two sides of a coin—how climate affects air quality and how air quality affects climate.
“My field—atmospheric chemistry—straddles chemistry and physics, so my Ithaca majors were the perfect fit. I’ve just begun a postdoctorate program at MIT, looking at similar issues in the stratosphere. Long term, I’d like to become a professor,” he says.
Eric points out that while Ithaca is a great place to learn science, it’s not just a science school. There are plenty of opportunities to explore other disciplines and pursue personal passions, too.
“I was really into music before coming to IC, and I knew it was a really strong college for that. I took music classes right along with the music students, and played bass in a jazz ensemble. That kind of balance helps you manage your time and stay sane. At Ithaca, you really get the whole experience.”
>> More on this story: Undergraduate Research at IC: Learn by Doing
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