Zach Ehrlich just prior to speaking at Commencement. (All photos by Frank Monkiewicz.)
On the road to success by way of Boston, Austin, Los Angeles…Zach Ehrlich is a Writing for Film and Television major from Chappaqua, New York. Ehrlich has served as president of campus screenwriting group SPEC and multiple comedy organizations including Stroopwafel, Inside Joke, and Hyena (Emerson’s version of The Onion). He won the Austin Film Fest Pitch Competition for his television show pitch, beating out 152 competitors and making lasting connections with industry executives. That experience and a semester at Emerson Los Angeles (ELA) interning at FX Networks have launched Ehrlich’s young career. Moving to LA post-graduation, he already has an agent representing him. He credits his family’s offbeat sense of humor for his own comedic style, which includes an element of surprise: “I didn’t tell them that I’m actually speaking at Commencement!”
“I plan to stay in this city I love. I’m not done here yet!” Julianna Buck is a Marketing Communications major from West Grove, Pennsylvania. While at Emerson, she was able to continue her passion for dance as a member of Emerson Dance Company and Emerson Urban Dance. While spending a semester at Kasteel Well in the Netherlands, she discovered a passion for the arts environment. Combining her interest in event planning and art, she began interning at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she will continue after graduation. “I plan to stay in this city I love. I’m not done here yet!” Buck was surprised with the Dean's Award at graduation this year, presented by Dean of Students Ron Ludman.
David Dominguez receives his diploma from Emerson President Lee Pelton.
Just Do It! A budding advertising career in the making…David Dominguez is a Marketing Communications major from Cuernavaca, Mexico. A self-described soft-spoken person, being a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon helped Dominguez to develop confidence and leadership skills. He also joined AMIGOS, the Latino student organization, where he connected with other international students to ease the transition to Boston. He spent the Fall 2014 semester at Emerson Los Angeles and interned at Acento Advertising. Dominguez plans to stay in Boston where he landed a paid internship at advertising agency Conelly Partners.
Prolific filmmaker, even before graduation…Alexander Freeman is a Film Production major from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Freeman, who was born with cerebral palsy, transferred to Emerson to pursue filmmaking full time. “One of the things that I loved about Emerson was that it was not just a school; it was a whole world, a whole community, that treated me as a serious filmmaker and not as a disabled filmmaker,” he said. Freeman has already made several acclaimed films including his first feature, The Last Taboo. Other films include Seven Days, A Life Imperfect, and Love and Hope of the Next Generation. He spent a semester at Emerson Los Angeles, where he interned at Technicolor. After graduation, Freeman hopes to get a job in LA editing trailers, and he plans to grow his company OUTCAST PRODUCTIONS—making documentaries that entertain and educate, in the hopes of changing the public's perception of minorities. His latest project, The Wounds We Cannot See, is being funded by a grant he received from the HSC Foundation for his disability advocacy.
Nyla Wissa receives the President's Award from President Pelton.
Started a women of color troupe while at Emerson…Nyla Wissa is a Theatre Education major from Dorchester, Massachusetts, who started Flawless Brown—the first women of color troupe at Emerson. The organization, which focuses on performing arts and film, now has approximately 35 members. Wissa, who won this year’s Spirit of Emerson Award for her work on Flawless Brown, appreciates College administrators’ support of her start-up troupe as well as her efforts in organizing a protest about the Ferguson, Missouri, decision. “At a larger school, I may have gotten backlash but I was supported by administrators,” she said. Wissa plans to move to LA and follow up with connections she made when she participated in Emerson Los Angeles. Wissa was honored with the President's Award this year by Emerson President Lee Pelton.
Thanks to Emerson Los Angeles already working in her field…Kelshe Woodard, a Media Production major, said the transition from Texas to Boston was difficult at first, but with support from Director of Multicultural Student Affairs and GLBTQ Resources Tikesha Morgan, she was able to find her way and thrive. She spent her last semester at Emerson Los Angeles and will remain in LA, where she has a job working at iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) as the promotions assistant for the company’s eight LA-based radio stations. “It’s great; there are so many Emersonians out in LA, including past and recent alumni!”
Landed an on-air reporter position….Maggie Smolka is a Journalism major from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. During her time here, she covered red carpet events, breaking news stories, and the Presidential inauguration for the College’s award-winning news station. She was part of the team that won the College Emmy Award for coverage of the Academy Awards. “Everything that Emerson promised exceeded my expectations: the people, teachers, particularly Associate Professor in Journalism Marsha Della Giustina, and the City! Boston is small enough that you won’t get lost but big enough that there are lots of opportunities.” After graduation, Smolka is headed to Bristol, Virginia, where she landed a job as an on-air reporter for WCYB. She’ll be joined by 2015 classmate Mandy Cordero, who also got a job at WCYB as a producer.
Ryan Sweeney with Performing Arts faculty Eric Weiss and Deb Acquavella.
Heading across the river for a job at A.R.T.’s OBERON…Ryan Sweeney is a Stage and Production Management major from Providence, Rhode Island. He's been active in Emerson Stage, the Performing Arts (PA) Department’s producing organization, working as assistant stage manager and co-manager. Sweeney applauds the entire PA faculty for their support and in particular his mentor and Head of Stage and Production Management Deb Acquavella. While at Emerson, he interned at Boston Lyric Stage and the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University; the latter is where he’ll be working after graduation as a programming assistant for A.R.T.’s OBERON productions in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Andrea Garza Erdmann
Passion for social justice fuels this marketing grad…Andrea Garza Erdmann is a Marketing Communications major from Tampico, Mexico. During her time at Emerson, she has been inspired by courses that focus on social movements, race relations, colonialism, and history, and by people such as Director of Multicultural Student Affairs and GLBTQ Resources Tikesha Morgan. When she moves back to Mexico, she plans to apply to graduate programs and continue working on social media outreach for two nonprofits that help indigenous women kick-start their businesses.