Graduate assistant opportunities give students valuable experience

Students in RIT’s media arts and technology (MAAT) MS program study media, technology and communication in a rigorous one-year sprint. There are 10 classes, nine of which are required. 

Students come from all over the world to gain an immersive experience in this dynamic field driven by media applications found in countless industries in an ever-changing landscape. 

A valuable extracurricular learning experience students can take advantage of in the program is being a graduate assistant for faculty in the program or School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. I asked students in the Class of 2022 to share what they learned while working in such close proximity to a specific project and faculty member. 

Najiang An 

Hometown: Beijing, China 

GA advisor/supervisor: Peres 

Work performed: Digitize the analog collection of Big Shot artifacts, including the addition of metadata 

Things you learned: The RIT Big Shot history and skills related to digitizing a large analog collection of its history. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: I really enjoyed interacting with these old photos and the histories behind them. Reading the old reports and articles brought me back in time, and inspired me to learn more about photography. 

Freya Fang 

Hometown: Urumqi, Xinjiang, China 

GA advisor/supervisor: Bob Rose, assistant professor of media arts and technology and photographic sciences

Work performed: Edited videos featuring important Rochester analog industry giants 

Things you have learned: I gained experience on how to edit videos and make them more dynamic. I developed professional skills using Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition. I learned different ways to record and edit audio and video tracks. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: I really enjoyed focusing my editing on storytelling. It was very interesting to learn the different histories of the subjects of the documentaries that I was editing.    

Rebekah Greenberg 

Hometown: Nashville, Tenn 

GA advisor/supervisor: Michael Peres, professor and MAAT graduate program director

Work performed: I worked as a tutor with the Media Foundations class (PHMS 611). I also created digital assets for the MAAT program that included posters and articles for the program’s webpage. 

Things you learned: I enhanced my time management. I learned how to work with peers, and importantly how to create focused content for mass distribution. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: I have interacted with some amazing people. I gained skills in article writing and working on content design.  

Cynthia He 

Hometown: Wuhan, China 

GA advisor/supervisor: Jenn Poggi, assistant professor 

Work performed: Prepare information for the collation of email and forms, statistics of data and updates of information for photojournalism alumni and activities. 

Things you learned: I have learned to communicate by email in a more formal way, as well as using Microsoft Office software in new ways. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: This job has allowed me to communicate with different people and helped to advance common, but new to me, skills. 

Billy Lawrence 

Hometown: Woodstock, Illinois 

GA advisor/supervisor: Peres 

Work performed: Co-editor of the MAAT annual publication, Viewfinder 

Things you learned: I learned the life cycle of creating a magazine going through all stages of production. I also learned how to adapt my style choices to fit and mesh with my co-editor and fellow classmates.  

Things you enjoyed about the work: Getting closer with my classmates and learning more about the program and its history, thanks to interacting with last year’s editors of Viewfinder

Alyssa Loukola 

Hometown: Wells, Maine 

GA advisor/supervisor: Dan Hughes, lecturer and photographic sciences program director

Work performed: Redesigned the program’s hallway display board and revamped its social media pages. I also schedule all postings, post the content and analyze data received through engagement. 

Things you learned: I have learned how to manage a social media page for a new organization I had limited experience with, as well as managing content and getting weekly stories ready for distribution. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: I really enjoy this field of work and it is similar to — if not exactly what I want to do — in the future. I also enjoy working with Dan and my team. 

Avalon Peyton 

Hometown: Palisades, N.Y.

GA advisor/supervisor: Peres 

Work performed: Designed a super-sized Big Shot timeline for a fall 2022 exhibition 

Things you learned: How to design a huge timeline showcasing the many years of the RIT Big Shot photography project and graphically sharing its interesting stories. 

Things you enjoyed about the work: I have really enjoyed the creativity and collaboration of this work, and working with Michael. 

Ashley Somchanhmavong 

Hometown: North Fort Myers, Florida 

GA advisor/supervisor: Peres 

Work performed: Co-editor of the MAAT annual publication, Viewfinder 

Things you learned: Time management, being productive with newly created content and how difficult it is to put together a publication like this with a small team. I think the effort will be worth it in the end. In this role, I pushed myself to be more creative and created a mascot for the publication, MAATie. 

Things you  enjoyed about the work: Being able to watch how the initial sketches from September become a reality. I also really loved drawing MAATie in different poses so she can be used in various places and ways in the magazine.

About the Author 

Professor Michael Peres is an award-winning photo educator, author and photographer. He joined the faculty of RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in the fall of 1986. During his career, he has dedicated himself to inspiring generations of curious students, many whom have become leaders in various fields. He is currently the Gannett Professor and director of the media arts and technology MS program.

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