Choosing STEP: Amanda Conklin and Alexander Cea

If you missed it, read this introduction by Vicki Pitstick, the Program Manager for the Second Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP).

The next two STEP students we’re featuring are Amanda Conklin and Alexander Cea. Watch their stories on deciding to become part of STEP, and then read some of their thoughts about STEP and digital storytelling below!

What do you want people to know about your story?

Amanda: I created my story for a certain audience, the current STEP students. There were certain messages I wanted these students to take away from seeing my story.  When you’re in STEP you don’t really know what you are going to do, and it is all a little overwhelming.  I wanted my story to give them some hope for the process they are going through, not just the experience at the end.  I had a wonderful experience in the program because I took advantage of all the opportunities STEP offered me.  I wanted to encourage them to not just worry about figuring out their experience, but grow as a person in this university.

Alex: I want people to understand that I have not completed my STEP experience yet, and my digital story was to demonstrate the power and potential that the program has to offer.

What did you enjoy the most about reporting out in this way?

Amanda: I enjoyed the entire digital storytelling workshop, but by far my favorite part was the story circle.  I think storytelling is a lost art.  I felt the entire group bond over telling each other stories.  I enjoyed hearing others’ stories, and I was amazed by what my peers had accomplished already in their lives.  Because there were a few story circles including a showing of the final product, it was really interesting to watch the stories develop.  I learned several things during the workshop.  One was I learned I can use a Mac operating system! And second was that storytelling is a cathartic process.  It makes you think about who you are, what you’ve done, and what you are going to do.

Alex: Since the entire process takes one weekend I felt like I made some really good friends while constructing my digital story. I learned about the story telling process and enjoyed the story circles and sense of community that they built upon.

What was the most challenging part of the workshop? Or the most rewarding to get through?

Amanda: I am a PC girl.  Apple software and I do not work well together.  So when I learned at the start of the workshop that I would have to use iMovie I just thought ” oh boy”.  And I did have some problems; for example there was a time when I was creating my video where I wondered if I would ever be able to make a credits  slide.  But with a little help from the facilitators and some perseverance, I made it through!  I ended up creating a great digital story and now I feel like I can conquer any Apple program.

Alex: My script changed multiple time during that second day, the story circles and the 7 elements guide were useful for developing drafts. I was not able to take all the ideas given to me and use them in my final script. But a lot of ideas were heavily influenced by others’ suggestions.

What would you say to students about digital storytelling who are still deciding on how to report out their STEP experience?

Amanda: Especially considering the STEP staff have decided to curtail the ways in which a student can report back, I would encourage using digital storytelling because it allows creativity.  I am an engineering student and don’t often get to use the right side of my brain.  Being able to create this digital story broke that barrier.  Also the digital storytelling was a great way for me to reflect on my STEP experience.  I don’t think I had realized the extent to which STEP transformed me last year until making my story.

Alex: Digital storytelling is a great way to have something to show people after you have completed your STEP experience. Presenting at the STEP expo is a good way to show off your accomplishments at one point. But once you leave the union you have very little visual aid of what you did with your time. The digital story telling process is a form of narration that is unique all on its own and should be considered for its long term use for the individual and the STEP website.

Amanda Conklin

Amanda Conklin is a third year majoring in Environmental Engineering.




Alex Cea

Alex Cea is a third year majoring in Chemistry.