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La Sierra Students at the Emmys


On Monday night last week, La Sierra University film and television professor Rodney Vance took two of his film students, Darren Thomas and Kelanie Aragon, to see the Emmy Awards live. As a voting member of the Television Academy, Vance is an annual attendee of the Emmys. This was the first time he arrived as a La Sierra professor.

“It’s great to have the students along. It’s like going to Disneyland,” Vance says. “It’s just that much more fun when you have people along who are excited to be there. We’ll do it again.”

Vance hoped that by viewing the Emmys live his students would recognize that, although talented, the makers of highly successful television productions are also regular people just like they are. Vance wanted his students to realize their own potential to work on a team and contribute their skills and talents into the art of visual storytelling.

Established in 1946, the Academy of Television is a nonprofit organization with 19,000 members.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, held just two weeks after the untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, honored him with a respectful and moving tribute.

“The choice to perform Charlie Chaplin’s song ‘Smile’ for the In Memoriam leading to Billy Crystal’s tribute to Robin Williams created the most heartfelt moment of the evening,” says Vance. “Sara Bareilles’ performance of the bittersweet lyrics accompanied only by cello and violin may become a classic.”

The film and television program where Vance teaches at La Sierra University teaches students how to tell stories through the universal language of images. Mastering this craft will hopefully prepare students to be successful in fields ranging from business to medicine to teaching.

Because there are many different aspects of storytelling, La Sierra’s film and television program teaches the basics in several different areas, such as editing or scriptwriting. Students learn how these separate components work together to create a universal story. As students progress through their degree, they are given the opportunity to concentrate in a specific area. Classes such as “Advanced Acting” or “Creative Visual Thinking” help students develop a wide range of fundamental abilities to help them in their careers. Using this method of concentrated skills built on a large base will hopefully maximize the confidence of seniors as they look for jobs after graduation.  

“Every member of the faculty continues to work professionally within their area of expertise, and brings their current real-world experience to the classroom,” says Vance.  “A feature of the educational experience [at La Sierra University] is the ability of film majors to work alongside accomplished professionals to ‘make real films.’”

La Sierra Film students recently had the opportunity to work on “The Butterfly, The Harp and the Timepiece,” a film that is currently in post-production and boasts names such as Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo, Golden Globe Winner Alex Ebert, and a music score by 2013 Best Pop Album Grammy Winner Alex Geringas.  

Students like Aragon hope to take what they learn at La Sierra University and enter careers in the film industry. “I would love to pursue a career in cinematography,” says Aragon. “But at the end of the day I just want to be part of projects that have a message.”

And how did she enjoy her trip to the Emmys?

“It felt surreal,” she said.   

Top image: La Sierra film students Kelanie Aragon and Darren Thomas at the 2014 Emmys.

Bottom image: Rodney Vance, Sarah Johnson, Kelanie Aragon and Darren Thomas.

Rachel Logan is an intern in the Spectrum office in Sacramento, California. She recently graduated from Walla Walla University where she studied creative writing and was a page editor for the campus newspaper, The Collegian

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