Alumni Spotlight – Anna Charles Headed to Graduate School at Hunter College

_MG_1692Anna Charles, one of our recent alumni will be attending graduate school at Hunter College, CUNY this Fall. She was accepted into the IMA MFA (Integrated Media Arts, Master of Science) program, which focuses on nonfiction work in different mediums, specifically emphasizing social change.
Since graduating she has been keeping busy, reading up on Photography and video, working as a video producer for a christian company, traveling with them, with others and on her own. It opened her eyes.She initially did not see herself going to graduate school. She agreed with many of her friends that said I can make it on my own, why do I need to spend extra money. After some time post-graduation, she came to a realization; “I felt like I needed to learn more, and I realized grad school would teach me.” “I really thought I would be done [after graduation], but York can teach you but so much in a limited time.”  Her advice to all students about graduation is, “Don’t think you’ve made it, this is it. An MFA basically gets you in. Push and go for it. I consider it [graduate school] a necessity.


Anna wants to go to graduate school for several reasons, one of which is to improve her research and script writing ability. ” I struggle a lot putting stuff on paper. I want someone to sit down and take me through the process of thinking of the idea, putting it on paper, and then bringing it to life.” She also wants to be around creatives, especially those that share her interests, “it’s fulfilling.”


One of the reasons she chose Hunter was because of the people and the type of work they do there. Initially she saw the work that Daniel Phelps (a Professor in the CT program at York College), was doing at the time, as he was working toward his degree and it got her interested. She did her own research, liked the work and the people that she saw and decided that she would be a good fit there. “I think there i can make real work that challenges people and I think I can get it [done] there [at Hunter].”

Her longterm goal is to travel and experience the world, publish a photography book and become a well known documentary filmmaker who creates stories that make people think about how they affect others. “…maybe short films as well but no Music Videos. Documentary matters to me, its what I want to do.”

When asked what she though graduate school would do for her, she replied, “I think I would gain a lot of confidence in my own work and they would push me to do it. I view my classmates as my competition and I want to be on top. [I want to] sell myself and work and not question it. It will help me overcome my fear of not being good enough.” “You need confidence in your work. Thinking you are not good enough is not a natural thought. If you are thinking that way, you need to change your environment and the people you are around… doubting slows you down.”

To get into the Hunter program she needed 3 letters of recommendation so she considered her options carefully and chose, “Daniel Phelps (an alumnus of the program at Hunter), Tom Moore (she did well in his class and he worked for Media/News corporations recently) and Michael Cripps (Worked with him as a [College Assistant], described my work ethic and how I could contribute to the program). [I also] sent in my transcript and Reel (sent in a CD) and an entrance letter; you sell yourself, who you are, how has your childhood been reflected in your work and how Hunter College can help me grow in the future), and of course a check for $125 application fee.”


The deadline was late February so she sent it in January to make sure it was there in time. “I freaked out when after a month they were still saying they had not received my transcript.” However when she found out she had gotten into the program she was so excited she couldn’t stop crying. “Out of all the applicants, they chose me. To me, they saw my work, felt it was good enough and decided to take me in.”


“York really helped me.” When I first started going to school I knew nothing about media. I went to several other schools and majored in culinary arts, but I wasn’t being challenged to be creative. Then I came to York and found out about the Communications Technology program. I learned a lot: lighting, operating cameras, codecs/formats… Didn’t take anything I got at York for granted. I took one thing everyday and went home to see how I could make it bigger. CT helped me feel that my ideas were not crazy, that they could come to life.

“Other schools have way less equipment than at York. I realize how lucky students at York are. To have professors that are willing to teach and know a lot and to have the equipment. Once you go out there you are on your own, its a whole different ball game. Don’t take what you have for granted. Out side life is a different ball game.”

“Daniel Phelps also encouraged us to push ourselves, go find stories that matter in the community. Never stay on campus for your projects. Make sure the things that you learn in class, you practice them out there while you still can lean on York College. Try new things. You can’t be lazy and stay in the lab. Get out there and find stories that matter. Learn how to survive out there, because when you leave here, you are on your own.”

She will be starting at the end of August 2013. Before then she intends to go, “Looking to find inspiration, by volunteering at homeless shelters and museums looking to find a story.”

We wish you all the best for the future Anna.



About the Author

Iddan Brown is the Communications Technology Student Liason.