People and Places

I have mixed feelings concluding my third virtual semester. Even after more than a year of conducting almost all aspects of life in a virtual setting, I still find myself adapting to new challenges and restructuring experiences. This class took advantage of the virtual environment by bringing in impressive guest speakers, providing unique opportunities to learn applicable skills, and conducting engaging synchronous sessions. 

Our guest speakers were incredibly generous with their time and worked on projects like Billie Eilish’s music videos, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, and other shows, movies, or creative projects. These speakers provided insights into the industry while inspiring us to create where we are. While LA has its advantages, perfecting a craft and building a portfolio can begin here, in Pittsburgh. 

For our class projects, I learned how to video edit, create papercuts, and tell engaging stories. Because of this course, I enrolled in more film and writing courses in the upcoming fall  to further develop these skills. Narration and storytelling is important for engaging an audience, and I see direct application of these skills in my future career as a physician communicating health and medical topics. This course broadened my perspective on where I can develop skills and how they can be used. This fall I will contribute to a documentary based in the August Wilson archives through Professor Kurlander’s course. While this seems unrelated to my path of medicine, the skills I will learn will be applicable to other creative science projects, and my career. 

My favorite part of this experience was the synchronous course style and meaningful assignments. We were able to connect with one another due to the environment Professor Kurlander created and our weekly group presentations. Through guest speakers and classmates, I realized that in this industry, and life in general, it truly is about the people. Personally, I am more committed to finding and connecting with people as we work on our goals together. I look forward to exploring how film and mixed media can be intertwined with health and medicine. Professor Kurlander has experience in overlapping these topics like through his work on documentaries on the Salk Polio vaccine, Dr. Starzl and transplantation, and COVID-19 vaccine research. I am spending my summer conducting research in the Starzl archives, working as an Emergency Medical Technician, and writing scripts. Next year, I hope to work on film projects, specifically on topics like science and medicine, while promoting more involvement in science communication.

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