Class of 2014 Student Profiles
Upon graduating from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a degree in English, I spent a year in northern Germany working as a Teaching Assistant under a Fulbright Grant. It was there that I observed firsthand the effectiveness of documentary film as a teaching tool, for German high-school students often responded enthusiastically to documentaries I presented to them. Through viewing and discussing these films, the students were not only more attentive to lessons of American history & culture, they were visibly eager to extend lessons and to discuss more documentaries. They wanted to delve even deeper into evaluating the USA's multifaceted cultural identity. Because this medium is able to encourage such positive intercultural and historical curiosity in audiences of a wide variety, I find documentary filmmaking a highly appealing field of work to pursue. It is also why I hope to focus on films with historical lessons that easily facilitate intercultural conversation. I am quite excited to begin such work at Wake Forest.
I was raised between a spiritual community in Iowa and the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. These vastly different environments set the stage for a wild fascination in different cultural traditions and belief systems. As an undergraduate, I spent six months in Bali, Indonesia as a midwife’s apprentice at Yayasan Bumi Sehat, a birth clinic for the poor, assisting in the birth of over fifty babies. I volunteered with hospice for three years as a companion to the terminally ill and implemented workshops on “green” burial and compassionate end-of-life care. In 2008, I completed a BA in the Social Organization of Death and Dying from Warren Wilson College. Intimate experiences into life transitions in America and abroad have strengthened my talent for vivid storytelling and interviewing. I am attracted to documentary film for its ability to influence the masses. I love the challenge of creative storytelling that makes the documentary experience come alive. I will produce films that venture deep into life’s most intimate and challenging realities.
I grew up in a small city in Michigan that gets more bad press than it deserves. I started my storytelling career as a local reporter working for the now defunct Uncommon Sense while attending Mott Community College. After receiving my associate degree I went on to earn my bachelors in convergence journalism with a focus in multimedia production, investigative journalism and social psychology from The Missouri School of Journalism. I have always had an affinity for the documentary medium. I think the genre has taken on a larger role that long-form investigative journalism or the old school muckrakers used to play. The films I would like to make come from ideas that I had always wanted to expand on as a reporter. Topics such as systemic poverty, clean water, women’s rights, climate change, slow food and biotechnology all interest me. Beyond any specific issue, I want to tell stories that confront larger problems.
Rhonda Chan Soo
I was born in Trinidad and Tobago and graduated in May 2011 from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science. I also spent a semester in Santiago, Chile. My life experience has been one of constant flux between worlds, and I have often had to traverse the East-West and rich-poor divides. Nevertheless, I believe that there is more that unites us than separates us, and I desire to produce films that deal with the essence of what makes us human, to re-examine social constructs such as race, to bridge social and cultural gaps, and to foster greater cross-cultural understanding and awareness. I am drawn to Documentary Film as a medium to creatively share ideas and to effect change.
Michele Ferris was born and raised in Costa Rica, Central America. She recently graduated from the University of Costa Rica with a B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in audiovisual production. Michele received a Fulbright scholarship to study documentary film at Wake Forest. After receiving her degree, she would like to return to Costa Rica to film its many compelling, but often ignored, stories.
Eric received a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies at Wake Forest University in 2011 and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting with a minor in art history from Tyler School of Art (Temple University) in 2005. As an undergraduate student Eric also studied at Temple University in Rome, Italy; Webster University in Vienna, Austria; and Yale Summer School of Art in Norfolk, Connecticut.
I received my BA in Anthropology at the University of South Florida in 2007. During that time, I volunteered with Amnesty International as a delegation leader for their Darfur campaign. Upon graduation, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. I was placed in a rural village in Zambia working to develop HIV/AIDS youth education projects in my community. I have spent the past year taking classes at the Northwest Film School in Portland, Oregon. I have a deep desire for knowledge and to know what is truly happening in the world around me. From this passion stems my desire for the mass population to be able to know and understand the world around them. My ultimate career goal is to make films that will motivate people into action and be the inspiration of great social change.
I graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and American Studies in 2010. Since then, I’ve worked as a freelance news writer and reality TV production assistant. A self-professed TV junkie, I was drawn to documentary film at an early age for its storytelling capacity and ability to capture a moment, event or experience—something I strive for in my own work. After graduating from Wake Forest, I would love to work in TV production and eventually make films that examine pop culture and delve into socio-cultural phenomena, exploring life by sharing compelling stories that celebrate the unique and draw out interest in the mundane.
I have a BA in Communication Arts with a concentration in broadcasting from the University of Dayton. I’ve had a successful career in sales and marketing, predominately in the B2B arena. Recent career achievements were as the Director of Advertising for the Tampa Bay Business Journal where under my leadership the publication experienced record growth. More importantly, my life has afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively, both internationally and domestically, which has profoundly broadened my perspective on the world around me. Now, rather than bridge products and services to businesses, I wish to bridge unknown subjects and untold stories to a much wider audience. I aspire to be a catalyst for raising awareness, with the dual goal of eliciting new perspectives and making a positive difference. Creating credible thought-provoking documentaries with compelling story lines is the means for me to achieve this goal. I look to create films that inspire, educate and inform. My focus will be to explore and illuminate diverse subject matter, from cultural, social and environmental topics to lighthearted themes in fields such as sports and music.
I graduated from Wartburg College in 2005 with a B.A. in Electronic Media and Public Relations. Following that, I worked as a video editor at an advertising company before starting as a Senior Producer at the Communication Research Institute of William Penn University, a non-profit television station that specializes in hyper-local news and programming. There I was given the opportunity to produce numerous documentaries including the award-winning Searching For Buxton, which aired on Iowa Public Television in February of 2010 and won the Iowa Motion Picture Award for Best Documentary. I also produced the independent short feature Step Together, about a small town’s attempt to break a Guinness World Record, which played at several Iowa film festivals including the Interrobang Film Festival where the film earned me the Iowa Filmmaker Award. I hope to expand my knowledge and hone my skills while at Wake Forest, then go out and continue to make films that both inform and entertain.
I received my undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Studio Art and Art History. After experimenting with digital photography and falling in love with the art form, I began to shoot for Virginia Tech’s school paper and held internships in commercial photography. It was through my experience volunteering in Rabat, Morocco that I decided to pursue a career in social documentation rather than the commercial industries of photography and filmmaking. I hope to create work that exposes instances of child neglect and abuse and inequality in women’s rights occurring throughout the globe.
A North Carolina native, I received my B.A. in Multimedia Arts and Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2009. While there I had the pleasure of working on various short films including my senior project 11:45, which examined the strained relationship of a couple based on repeating moments in time over the course of a single day. Since receiving my degree I’ve served as Creative Media Director for Spa South Salon in Gastonia, North Carolina. During this time I also helped to oversee the creation of “Granny’s Pancake Breakfast”, a non-profit fundraiser for breast cancer research, the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen foundation. I’ve always been interested in the varied social relationships between people and how this affects their interaction so Documentary filmmaking is the perfect outlet for me. I hope to use this knowledge to seek out and portray individuals with an honest and even eye, exposing the trials and tribulations ever-present in everyday life.