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There are a few things that I have been passionate about from a young age: photography, the ocean and foreign languages. Until college I never really thought about how scattered my interests were, the main reason for this being that my life was consumed with softball. I played from age five until I was recruited by and played for Cornell’s varsity team. In high school my future plans went as far as being recruited to play at a great school and I hoped that the rest would fall into place. So when my second year of college brought with it my second ACL tear and consequent end to my college athletic career, I was suddenly faced with free time and a new identity. I enrolled in an absurd mix of campus clubs and course offerings, and finally it became clear to me that all of my hobbies could be united under one major and ultimately a career path: film.

I loaded my time with global cinema studies, lighting studios, sound editing, cinema verité production classes, film classes conducted in both French and Italian, studies of music in film and television. While nearly all of my friends struggled through problem sets I watched movies, composed lighting for songs and scenes, wrote short screenplays. My classes were easy because I enjoyed the subject matter, I had fun writing essays that compared Cleo from 5 to 7 with Black Girl, The Wonders with La Cienaga. I enjoyed how much more I noticed when I watched movies compared to before, the way I could glean insight from lighting or camera angles or timely cuts. The most important thing that I came to realize during this time, however, was the importance of movies. I can think of no other medium that influences social change, changes public perception of a culture or religion or sexuality, normalizes or ostracizes or promotes an ideology the way film does. I can think of no better way to, for example, normalize women in politics than to make more movies with powerful female leads. I can think of no better way to bring ocean conservation to the forefront of the public’s mind than to make a beautiful, compelling film set in submarine ecosystems. No better way to convey the urgent need for reform in America’s schools than with a documentary that connects.

I tell people what I studied in college and I get well-meaning chuckles, supportive comments about the randomness yet intrigue of it. Film, French, Marine Biology, what do I plan to do with that, be Jacques Cousteau? Well, yeah. I want to share what I care about with the world, through film.

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