Sunny outlook leads student all the way to Sesame Street

“Sunny day. Sweepin’ the clouds away. On my way to where the air is sweet. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” LaToye Adams, a fourth-year film and animation student knows the way to Sesame Street. Adams spent this past summer with Grover, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie and the other characters at Sesame Workshop, the company responsible for producing Sesame Street as well as other children’s television series and educational outreach programs. Adams was a production assistant for the summer, working right up until she had to return to RIT for the fall quarter.

“I couldn’t imagine not taking advantage of every single moment I had there,” says Adams.

Soaking up every moment and opportunity is the way Adams lives her life. At RIT, Adams has served as resident advisor, senator for the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, volunteer and mentor for the Women’s Center and also been involved on various committees of Student Government. She’s currently a member of Delta Phi Epsilon and works part-time as a teacher’s assistant at Margaret’s House. It’s no surprise that her leadership was recognized early on—she was one of the recipients of the Freshman Leadership Scholarship. And last fall, her animated film Mother to Son was among those featured in Rochester’s High Falls Film Festival.

Her dream job is to run a children’s television network. She got a taste of what it would be like while at Sesame Workshop where she worked on promotions, commercials, brand videos and script writing. The experience combined her love of production and working with people.

“I like calling people up and hearing about their day and then seeing how we can work together to build something into a production. People are human beings. Even though they may be a company CEO or a vice-president, they still have a husband that gets on their nerves or a child that kept them up all night. They are real people.”

It’s the kindness and dedication of real people here at RIT that have made her college experience a memorable one.

“I started participating in committees and meeting staff members on campus. As a student sometimes
you don’t realize what goes on outside your own environment. In spending time in meetings with faculty, staff and President Simone, I began to respect all the work they do. I began to appreciate RIT that much more and worked that much harder to stay here.”

Adams has worked at Margaret’s House since day one of her freshman year to help pay her tuition. And her mother took on a second job. Adams recalls how her family couldn’t afford to make the drive from their home in Paterson, N.J. to visit the campus after she learned she had been accepted. A handwritten letter from an admissions counselor in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences changed their minds.

“It was in a nice little card and I showed it to my mom and she said, ‘we are going to go.’ My mom saw the attention that RIT gave and no other university had ever even returned a phone call, let alone a hand-written letter. And we were so amazed at the first-class treatment we received during our visit. My mom said, ‘We are going to do what we need to do to get you here, even though we’ll be scraping by.’”

In May, Adams will be the first in her family to graduate from college. She hopes there will be a job waiting for her at Sesame Workshop. She’s not worried though. “They gave me a wonderful confidence that I could contribute to something greater than myself.” Adams adds, “Life just figures itself out."

RIT News & Events, Sept. 23, 2005