Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The High Cost of Higher Education-Reflections

The inspiration behind the creation of my autobiographical media piece, The High Cost of Higher Education, came as a result of the inherent difficulties one faces when attempting to work and pursue a university degree, simultaneously. Pursuing a university degree is a full time endeavor; factoring in work, home, family, and self means that many compromises are made, some aspects are ignored, and complications seem “normal.” Currently attempting to balance all of the aspects just mentioned made me think of choices that must be made short term for long term goals to be realized. And choices represent the heart of the autobiographical piece. The choice made to earn a Master of Arts degree represented a huge personal and financial cost, nevertheless, the financial return and the emotional benefits were well worth the consequences of my decision.

At inception, my target audience included colleagues of the Media Psychology program at Fielding Graduate University and family members. Maybe, the piece would be shown to a few close friends. However, some current students asked to see the piece as did colleagues from Cal State Fullerton where I teach. Motivating an audience was never my intention; however, in sharing the piece with others, especially women, viewers have said that the story related to them in many ways hand helped them with current decisions they face. The overall reaction the separate audience members demonstrated was quite surprising; a few cried as they were “touched”, and all were overwhelming supportive of the piece, and asked to view it again. My surprise originated from the aspect that a creation so deeply personal could emotionally impact others, in a positive manner. Knowing the power of the media and teaching its concepts based on other’s work offers a completely different perspective when you create the work and then view the reaction. What a thrill it is to see others care about your story and how your story connects to their own. Creating connections is the power of all stories.

The High Cost of Higher Education media piece is my first individual attempt at digital storytelling. At a new student orientation, Dr. Ohler assigned students to create a “mini-autobiographical” piece. Since the time allowed was short, several others were present to help us with our creations. Creating a piece on my own meant that I needed to use tools for which I would have technical support as needed. Since the university where I teach supports final cut pro, and my nephew who lives with me also knows the program, the choice to use the final cut pro software seemed most logical. The software was quite user friendly; thus, editing and adding additional elements were not difficult. Overall, I am pleased with the feedback received on the project and consider my first attempt a success.

The High Cost of Higher Education

My first autobiographical media piece is complete and posted on youtube. You can view it at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT2LJR13Wkw . The digital story created tells of a decision I was forced to make, one I would not have made on my own. As with all important decisions, consequences subsequently follow. The story is titled, The High Cost of Higher Education, and is meant to explain both the financial costs of pursuing a university degree, but the emotional expenses incurred as well. The decision to obtain a graduate degree came at a high personal cost as well, which represents the heart of "herstory", my story. Although the choice was made to continue with my graduate studies, and even though marriage was sacrificed, it was not until the completion of the piece did the realization occur that emotional scars remained. Thus, the decisions of the past certainly impact the decisions made daily, and the ones made in the future. Telling my story helped erase the scars of a past decision; a decision which enriched my life in so many ways, and allowed me to chart my present life journey.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Visual Story Map

The High Costs of My Pursuit of Higher Education

Included is the visual portrait story map, which is the first step in an autobiographical story, The High Costs of My Higher Education. Story mapping allows a visual rough sketch of the main parts of a story, based on Joseph Campbell's, "The Hero's Journey," as adapted by Jason Ohler and described in his book, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. The Visual Portrait Story elements include: 1) The call to adventure; 2) the problem; 3) the state of expectation or tension; 4) the solution; and, 5) closure. (Ohler, 2008).

The process of story mapping helped me distinguish the story core (the way in which my life changed and I grew personally and professionally as a result of the challenges presented in a particular experience), as well as determine the details that would advance the story without boring the reader. ( Ohler, 2008). The process of story mapping represents an excellent critical thinking exercise, and one that can be used for many different disciplines.


Ohler, J. (2008). Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Who I Am

"The more that you read, the more things you will you know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss

My e-portfolio story began with my educational foray into the Media Psychology program at Fielding Graduate University. Teaching Advertising and Advanced Business Writing Communications at California State University, Fullerton I wrongly assumed myself to be a "media expert." Now, I know how much I don't know, how much I have to learn, and the depth of my passion to learn.

My life roles are numerous: wife, daughter, aunt, sister, step-mom, advisor, professor, and dog-mom to name just a few. But people are so much more than the roles played, the jobs performed, and the paths followed.

The decision to pursue a PhD at Fielding stems from my passion for learning and love of words. The media impact of visuals and words has been profound; my fascination for the combined power of pictures and words knows no bounds. The stories that all forms of media develop, enhance, and inspire, whether positive or negative to the human experience, stimulate my curiosity to understand the hows and whys behind the story.

My love of stories began very early, partly because I could command my mother's entire attention when she read one. However, I soon learned that stories were not "read on demand" so as a result, my fascination for books and the stories contained within fueled my desire to learn to read at an early age. The first book conquered, Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss, developed an intensity for the story that continues today.

Essential to any culture is the story which binds together a shared existence so that the knowledge of the past can/will positively impact the now and the future. Stories provide hope. Stories perpetuate the need for a shared human experience. Stories show what was and what can be. Stories preserve, inspire, and augment our overall understanding of ourselves and our world. Stories heal and incite; prick our conscience and help us understand. And mostly, stories help make sense of what cannot be understood.

Here within is Carrie's story; her journey of self-discovery through pursuing the digital medium. Hopefully, you enjoy the ride and your own understanding of the art of storytelling increases.

"The universe is made of stories, not atoms." Muriel Rukeyser