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Graduate Profile: Working Behind the Scenes

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to try new things.

Zhamarr Thompkins was eager to continue learning about media studies when he transferred to Governors State University, but hesitant to take part in internships on campus.

With confidence instilled in him by his professors, Thompkins was able to see his directing and production skills come to life and was even nominated for a Student Emmy.

Now graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies, Thompkins is returning in the fall for his master's degree. 

GSU Newsroom: What brought you to GSU?

Thompkins: I graduated from Prairie State College with an associate in music production but I didn't feel like I was done learning. I looked at schools that were close to home and I found out GSU had a great media studies program. I've always been interested in creating visuals but I wanted to learn more about it so GSU was a perfect fit.

GSU Newsroom: What are some of the highlights from your time at GSU?

Thompkins: I had a professor push me to sign up for an internship that I did not feel like I was ready for. He knew I could handle it and that turned out to be the push that I needed. I signed up for the sports internship that handles the broadcast for live sporting events here at GSU. I found out that every year they bring an intern back to become the director the following year and that immediately became my goal. Even though I set that goal, I did not feel like I really had a chance because I signed up for the internship mid-semester.

At the end of the year I found out that I was chosen to be the director. In my year as the director, I feel like I raised the bar as far what is expected from our broadcast. At the end of the year me and my producer were nominated for a Crystal Pillar Award (aka the Student Emmy). There were so many other larger schools on the list and because of me and my producer, GSU got a chance to compete with them all. Something I'll never forget.

GSU Newsroom: Who were some of the professors who shaped your experience and your future?

Thompkins: Professor Uriah Berryhill was the one who pushed me to sign up for the internship and he always pushes me to be better. Professors Yevette Brown and Debbie James both have shown me time after time how much they believe in me through their constant support and encouragement. Professor Mark Kundla gave me a platform and the freedom to become a great leader. Professor Novia Pagone has always gone above and beyond her job as an instructor to make sure that I was able to understand course materials. Lastly, even though she is not a Professor, Heather Penn of the Digital Learning and Media Design (DLMD) has inspired and taught me so much that has molded my future and I can't thank her enough.

GSU Newsroom: What's next after graduation?

Thompkins: This summer I will be directing a web-series called "UnWritten: Rules of a Rom Com." We have a cast and crew that is made up of all GSU students and alumni. Also, this fall I plan on going after a master's degree at GSU.

GSU Newsroom: What advice would you give GSU students? 

Thompkins: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to try new things.