In My Own Words: Eddie Gonzales '04
From an Accidental Introduction to an Extended Stay
Four years ago, I had never heard of Pitzer College. A fluke introduction came when a friend mentioned that there was a program at the Claremont Colleges that I should look into; it turned out to be the New Resource Program at Pitzer. At the time, I was finishing my general education requirements at a local community college and the timing seemed to be perfect, as I was planning on transferring the following school year. I submitted my application and waited anxiously for weeks. Then the news finally came—I had been accepted to Pitzer College! The good news was more than just a chance to finish part of my education; it felt like I was given an opportunity to change my life. This change happened faster than I could have imagined. Not only did I graduate, after two fun and challenging years with a dual major in art and media studies, but today I am a proud member of the Pitzer College Media Studies Production Department.
When I first began my studies at Pitzer I had decided to be an art major. I enjoyed taking art classes and was firmly set on expanding my artistic knowledge and skills. However, I had always been an avid movie-goer since I was a kid and was curious how that would translate, with my interest in art, to the Media Studies Program. I had spent countless hours at the movie theater and also in front of the television, but I had never owned a video camera or edited any footage, and the appeal of learning those skills was very strong. I also had no intention of taking on another major; I was going to be at Pitzer for two short years and they were going to be spent concentrating on art. All of that changed after taking my first video production class and quickly becoming hooked on media studies.
The truth that I discovered was that video making is an accessible art form with tremendous life beyond the original creation. We now have the ability to independently produce and distribute media on a global scale from a single computer. The moment you first control the camera or edit your first video is the moment that media studies can spread its infectiousness over your academic choices and your life; this is the intrinsic power of self-produced media. It is the gravitational pull that some students encounter when entering Scott Hall, where the Media Studies Program is housed. After this experience, I was compelled to add media studies as my second major. It is something that I have observed happen to other students and it is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of working in the program— seeing someone transformed into a full-fledged media studies student. Once the transformation occurs, it requires a total commitment on the part of the student, due to the countless days and weeks that are spent severing relationships, losing sleep, and drinking tons of coffee while shooting and editing footage only to produce a few minutes of a documentary, experimental or narrative video. What follows that hard work is the most rewarding of all for a media studies student— the screening of your work in front of an audience.
Pitzer’s Media Studies Program makes a strong commitment to establishing and supporting media communities by putting the College’s core values into practice. Pitzer made me aware of the importance of interaction and exchange with other communities and artists. Courses cover a variety of topics and reflect a commitment to social diversity and to intercultural and interdisciplinary understanding. They link film, video, photography, and digital technologies to such disciplines as art, anthropology, sociology, political studies, world literature and women’s studies. The commitment to providing the necessary equipment and the required space for students to make work in is also something that Pitzer sets as a top priority. This is something that has grown tremendously since I was a student and over my past year working at Pitzer, which I attribute to the hard work and dedication of Enid Somogyi, director of media practice and my friend and co-worker.
Because we live in a media-saturated society, we often forget how many outlets we are exposed to in our daily routines. Outlets such as movies, television, radio, the Internet, advertising, and printed works are all media forms that are second nature to us. And the ability to communicate via the language of media is tremendously powerful; this is something that all media studies students understand and practice. All these things made my decision to join the department right after graduating a simple one. This was a major that I had thoroughly enjoyed while at Pitzer and I felt that it was also an opportunity to remain in a creative environment where I could share my knowledge and enthusiasm with other students. I also like to think of it as my extended stay at Pitzer College where I am learning, meeting new people and experiencing great things all outside of the classroom.