Wilkes University junior Sean Connelly never imagined he would study abroad. That changed after a meeting with members of the honors program cohort.
“I had no plans of studying abroad ever,” Connelly explains. “Then Dr. (Jeffrey) Stratford (associate professor of biology) met with the honors students and told us about the opportunity that we have. I figured why not, it sounded interesting.”
After asking Stratford where he could go as a digital design and media art major, the answer was simple– University of Wales Trinity St. David.
“I did research into the school, what the ratings were,” Connelly adds. “I fell in love with the idea of going over there. When I get into something, I get really into it and get obsessed with the idea.” The Ashley, Pa., native soon found himself packing his bags to study in Wales during the fall 2018 semester.
Connelly was able to study film at the university, using the grant that students in the honors program received for research and travel. He began taking three classes, meeting other international students and exploring the country, going to places like Bath, Cardiff, and Llansteffan Castle. Connelly even started a YouTube channel, vlogging his experience.
“When I was talking to Dr. (Helen) Davis (associate professor of English), she proposed the idea of getting credit for going abroad, to do a paper-recollection of the experience,” Connelly explains. “I figured if I have to write a paper, I’ll video myself talking to the camera, talking about my experience so when I write the paper, I have reference to what my state of mind was.”
That kick-started his YouTube channel where he has also uploaded the short film he completed for a class at Trinity St. David. Given the task to write, direct, produce and edit a seven-minute screen play, Connelly found another channel for his passions. But film and media arts were not the first career plan for Connelly.
“Originally I was coming to Wilkes for engineering—then I did a complete 180-degree turn,” he explains. “I was only in engineering for one semester… but the one class I did take, Auto CAD, is a 3D-modeling program. Part of it was to create an object and try to sell it to the class. I enjoyed doing that. I enjoyed making something—coming up with the idea of how to market it.” That eventually led him to digital design.
With the help of faculty advisor Eric Ruggiero, associate professor and chair of integrative media, Connelly found his way. He received additional assistance from Jessica Trzeskowski from the Learning Center at Wilkes. “I would come visit her to tell her how everything is going and she would give me advice,” Connelly says.
Well on his way to a career in photography or videography, Connelly is looking toward the future with growing skills and new experiences. Reflecting on his decision to attend Wilkes, the opportunities through the honors program and its proximity to his hometown assured he made the right choice. “It gave me the feeling that I could do it here.”