UNM-Taos DMA Graduates Take Flight

UNM-Taos’ Digital Media Arts Program celebrates its first graduates!

“It is my great honor to introduce our seven graduating Digital Media Arts students this spring of 2019. During the past two years I have gotten to know each of these dynamic students and although I am glad to see them graduate and move on with their lives, I will miss them! Being a full-time college student is hard work! Each student juggles many demands of life including; jobs, families, money (or lack of), emotional wellbeing, and of course homework!! Completing 8 Media Arts classes and all the core basics demands perseverance, hard work and an incredible appetite for living a life filled with potential. Now as these students graduate with their Associates Degree in Digital Media Arts from UNM-Taos, they can truly do anything! Some will go onto to get their Masters Degrees. Others will go straight into their careers, internships and freelance opportunities. We here at DMA look forward to hearing their stories when they return home to share their successes. To each of our graduates I say, “Thank you! And I wish you a bountiful, adventurous life!”

Remarks by Peter Walker (Media Instructor and Chair of the UNM Taos Digital Media Arts Department), in his introduction to this post.

This is a great accomplishment for the fledgling DMA program which I have featured here over the past year. I am so delighted that UNM-Taos DMA Chair, Peter Walker (together with his esteemed colleagues at UNM Taos), has chosen to continue to collaborate with taoStyle again in 2019, as a Sponsor of the blog. As a writer and blogger, I am acutely aware of Digital Media Art’s impact on my industry among many others, and the opportunity to be a platform for young, emerging “voices” in our community, is one I don’t take lightly.

This exciting program at UNM-Taos has garnered acclaim for both its teachers and students; Media Giant Canon’s collaboration with the Program is virtually unprecedented. The DMA Graduates are a media savvy, digitally wired and for the most part, new generation of creative tech geeks, with one exception! Colin Hubbard has been featured here before on taoStyle, Flying The Canyon! This grad is 48 years old.

I met with Peter Walker recently at DMA’s in town Headquarters,and we decided an interview with this cohort would be a nice way to share their accomplishments, with you, my readers. I sent off 7 questions and their responses follow. I’ve listed the Graduates before the Q&A, but used initials thereafter.

The Graduating Students are: Autumn Kaplan: 21, Atyr Cederlof: 22, Tomas Gallegos:20 , Lorenzo Lopez: 20, Noah Yacko: 20 ,Colin Hubbard: 48 and Bailey Wohltman 20.

How did you get involved with the program initially?

Autumn Kaplan:(AK) When I finally knew what I wanted to do I met with my advisor Arianna, and spoke with her about my future goals and dreams. UNM Taos offered a Digital Media Arts program that satisfied my educational needs. I signed the papers over to change my degree, and it truly was such an exciting moment!!

Atyr Cederlof (AC) I started taking the UNM Taos classes that looked interesting and found myself in the Cohort.

Tomas Gallegos (TG) I first got involved when I was in highschool at the Taos Academy for a dual credit program

Lorenzo Lopez:(LL) I started off doing dual-credit animation classes at Taos High School and my instructor recommended me to the DMA Program. So far I have enjoyed it.

Noah Yacko: (NY) I started at UNM Taos wanting to become an engineer. But as I progressed through prerequisites, I developed a passion for film and digital art. So when it came time to declare my major I chose DMA and it was the third best decision I have ever made.

Colin Hubbard (CH) I learned about DMA while attending an event for the Taos Academy.

Bailey Wohltman (BW) I just kind of fell into it really. My interests in filmmaking led me here naturally.

Can you please tell my readers a little about your experience at UNM Taos, and specifically about the program?

AK My experience has always been wonderful at UNM Taos. I have been taking college classes since I was a junior in highschool. My teachers have all been incredible, they have worked really hard to make sure our learning wasn’t just a dull and boring study but that we had fun and also had amazing experiences. I have and worked with lots of students who are all individually passionate about going to school.

AC For the most part I have appreciated my time at UNM I do wish to continue my higher education in the future but after some needed time outside of that world. The DMA cohort has been a helpful and informative experience. I have enjoyed progressing through the semesters with familiar faces

TG The program has allowed me to see what it takes to make a film and to meet different people with different skills.

LL It has been great! Friendly classmates, excellent help when needed, flexible hours, and many side opportunities like media workshops that relate to camera work, screenwriting etc…

NY The program has had it’s ups and downs but what is most great about it are the opportunities it creates for the students. I have personally struggled throughout my college career, but it has been worth it.

CH In two years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in ten different productions. Two of which are documentary films and one is my own episodic series.

BW You meet a lot of people who you end up working with for the rest of your time here, so you’re kind of always with your same classmates in most of the DMA program, which makes it easier to work on projects together, like films, because you know each other work. I’ve also made things I would’ve never expected to make here.

How has what you’ve learned impacted your work and life?

AK Studying film has just changed my entire perspective in the way I look at anything. As a filmmaker I see everything from a creative standpoint, I draw inspiration and creativity from everything that is and can be artistic.

AC The things I have learned have improved my productivity and understanding in my own freelance career. Backed also by the knowledge gained from sites like jackrabbitjakarta.com, my confidence as a freelancer has blossomed and I’m ready to take on the world of business.

TG The way it has impacted my life is by giving me the skills to make good films and how to find jobs.

LL It’s given me a broader knowledge of my field and helped me to improve my skills in animation and team building.

NY The point of college is really to teach young adults how to think critically. But the DMA program has taught me some life skills that I believe put me ahead of the curve. Those things are integrity, because it shows in your work, and how to make a good first impression.

CH The technical skills and the opportunity to get my foot in a new industry are enabling me to transition to a career in a way that perfectly matches my desire to freelance.

BW I’m now much more passionate and driven to make films than I was before. In 2018, I made three projects, 2 of them being some of my best work so far.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

AK Five years from now I know that I will be of course working with some amazing actors, film-makers and artists producing beautiful media. At this point I hope to have gained an audience on social media that will be inspired to do anything that they dream to achieve. Mostly I want to have fulfilled some of my goals, and to just feel the empowerment of achieving something all on my own. To continue to grow and learn on new projects and film sets. Lastly, I want to find myself on a vacation with my beloved family reflecting on such a peculiar journey that I am so passionate about.

AC Still self-improving and developing my arts.

TG A freelancer who builds and paints models for hobbyists because I want the people to enjoy whatever game they are in.

LL I hope to be a 3D Animator and concept artist working for one of the big film studios.

NY In five years I WILL BE travelling the world working as a freelance videographer and motion designer, making six figures, and working with big names.

CH I travel all the time and selectively choose projects I know I’ll love working on. Aerial video in locations not accessible to drones is a very specialized niche of media.

BW Hopefully working on bigger projects with an actual budget. Maybe not something James Cameron level, but maybe a small film you’d scroll by on Netflix.

Regardless of where these graduates see themselves in five years time, the world is their oyster, and they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it. Of course, they will still face the trials and tribulations of working life, such as filing taxes or putting money towards starting a business of their own, and that’s why hiring an accountant to help with freelancers, for example, could be in their best interests – see this site for more information. Before venturing out into their new adventures, looking at how the financial side of things will work could be fundamental to their success, and if you’re making six figures like “NY”, this will be essential.

What has been the most exciting/inspiring aspect of being part of UNM-Taos DMA?

AK Well truthfully if you really want to know…the most inspiring part of being a DMA graduate is that I am the only girl in the first cohort graduating. Since it is a new program it is still developing and improving but to be the only girl its like wow I really stand out among all these men in my class. I am making a huge difference for the future women in the program. I’m so excited to be the first and I know that I won’t be the last indigenous woman filmmaker to make this huge achievement.

AC The teachers and their own devotion to making the student’s experience the best they can.

TG What has been the most exciting/inspiring aspect of being part of UNM-Taos DMA? The most exciting aspects are the film projects that you can do.

LL Meeting new people who are interested in similar things that I am into.

NY The projects we work on, and the people we speak to and work with. I’ve made some great friends and lasting partnerships that I hope to have in the future.

CH I feel encouraged to move forward in a direction of my own choosing and find a lot of specific assistance to grow on that path.

BW Being able to network with people and have access to knowledge of how all these different programs and tools work. Once I had everything in place, it was a field day of creativity for me and my classmates

What would you say to potential students who are still sitting on the fence regarding Digital Media Arts?

AK I would say you’re never going to go anywhere by sitting on that fence! If you really have love for this than you will pursue it with all your heart and mind until you start to feel different and see the world differently. Until you are ready to give this career your all… you are not ready. It is a full-time commitment and the results will only be as active as you are. Never give up failures are beautiful lessons and steps to success!

AC What is stopping you?

LL I would say that it’s the best career field to go into if you are a creative individual who wants to get his/her ideas out there and bring a new form of originality into the media industry.

NY We are in the golden era of media design and now is the time to commit! As with all things, you only get out of it what you put into it, two-fold. Disclaimer: If you’re not computer savvy, this isn’t for you. It goes beyond just “drag-and-drop”!

CH The program can help you narrow the path for your artistic talent in the media industry. It’s a broad foundation with staircases in many directions.

BW If you are interested about animation, filmmaking, digital design, etc., jump for it. Even if it’s intimidating at first, you quickly pick up on things, and soon, you’re making things you couldn’t have possibly seen yourself making.

Do you see Digital Media Arts changing the world of Social Media as we know it?

AK Of course! DMA has completely changed the world as we know it. This generation is digitally advanced and ready to create even more creative and diverse media that the world will be inspired by, and curious to learn more.

AC I believe it has already and will continue to for a long time.

TG I do see DMA changing the world because who knows who may create the next big thing.

LL Definitely! Ever since social media came into play, Digital Media Arts has gotten more recognition in terms of advertising, technological advancement, and inspiration. Social media has even been the theme for many film projects.

NY It already has and will continue to do so until the end of technology. Social media is a subsidiary form of Digital Media Arts.

CH It already has and that landscape continues to change. DMA helps create literacy in a global industry.

BW It already is. Everywhere you look, whether it be social media websites like twitter and YouTube, to streaming services, and even driving down the street, you’re seeing logos, layouts, and interfaces that were designed by media artists.

What do you intend to do once you graduate from UNM-Taos?

AK Since I am a member of the Sag-Aftra Union, an Actor/Performer, a model for Patricia Michaels, a film-maker and performing artist I will have more free time to dedicate towards these talents and skills. At this point or maybe even later I hope to be in an agency successfully booking jobs, traveling and making amazing experiences! Most of all I just want to make movies, commercials and pretty much anything media/film related.

AC Remain in Taos until I can make my home self-sustaining, then invest further in my business and traveling

TG What do you intend to do once you graduate from UNM-Taos?I intend to stay in college and get my Masters Degree in something. I’m still figuring it out.

LL I hope to transfer to UNM Main Campus and get my Bachelors Degree in Digital Media.

NY In July 2019 I’m moving to Germany to continue my college career and start my professional career in what I consider the frontier of media design. And yes, I speak German.

CH Train for camera work and fly over the Colorado River from the headwaters to the Sea of Cortez. I also started an adventure seekers network called joinmyepicadventure.com

BW Hopefully head to main campus UNM to try to finish up my degree there, and then keep making films. There’s a big market for up and coming filmmakers growing in New Mexico, so now is the perfect time to be a going into the industry.

Congratulations to all, and thank you!

I’ll have more in the coming weeks and months on UNM-Taos DMA’s exciting new projects already in the works, but meanwhile, for more information on this innovative program, please visit UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts site linked below this post.


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All images thanks to Enrico Trujillo and Peter Walker