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Bruin Spotlight

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Kirby Saxton
Master's Program at the American Film Institute (AFI)

Hometown City: Salt Lake City, Utah
SLCC Concentration: AS Film Production Technician

What led you to choose SLCC?

I went to a filmmaking high school in West Valley, Utah, called East Hollywood High School. During my junior or senior year, my two film teachers Will McAllister and Josh Wagner, (who were both huge influences on my life), took us on a tour of the SLCC film facilities. It was clear to me that SLCC could offer a first class, hands-on education that would expand my filmmaking skills on a technical level.

Who was your favorite professor?

This is such a non-answer, but all of them. I’m such a fan of the teachers I’ve had in my life. From SLCC, Channing Lowe is an editing genius. Stephen Williams has a wonderful mind, and his love for story is infectious. Stan Clawson, who taught me documentary, is a great artist with a great mind. If I had to pick one mentor from SLCC, I would have to say Dave Lehleitner. Dave knows so much, not just about the process of making a movie, but also about the industry and how it works. He’s also hilarious.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time on campus?

I’ve learned again and again that any institution is only as good as the people in it, and SLCC was no different for me. When I remember SLCC, I think about the students and teachers that helped me get where I am today. Film is a collaborative art-form, and there is so much collaboration in SLCC’s film department.

What advice do you have for current students at SLCC?

My biggest piece of advice is that life is not a race. I’ve been in school for over six years already, and my journey is really just beginning. Take your time, doing what you want to do the way you need to do it. This is especially important for people who want to be filmmakers. A big thing I’ve learned is that making movies is a long game. Perseverance and endurance are so, so important.

Hailee Henson
Area Operations Manager, Handel's Ice Cream

Hometown City: Bountiful, Utah
SLCC Concentration: Culinary Arts - Pastry

What led you to choose SLCC?

I was looking for a culinary program that was both close to home and work and affordable - SLCC fit perfectly!

Who was your favorite professor?

My favorite professor was Chef Cynthia Alberts. She recognized the passion in me and worked hard to help me become better. She was engaging, fun, and a delight to work with. I loved every second of every class I had with her!

What campus was your favorite and why?

The Miller was my only campus! And what's not to love about the Culinary Arts building?

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time on campus?

The biggest lesson I learned was to choose a field that you are passionate about. Once I finally decided to jump head-first into my passion, school became something that I looked forward to!

What advice do you have for current students at SLCC?

Take advantage of the time that you have now to learn! Ask questions, do your homework, and pay attention. The things that the professors are teaching you will be more relevant in the workforce than you think!

Heather Nielsen
Sr. HR Business Partner, Grand & Little America Hotels

Hometown City: Brigham City, Utah
SLCC Concentration: Criminal Justice

What led you to choose SLCC?

I ended up transferring to SLCC from the University of Utah.
I started my Freshman year at the U, but was completely overwhelmed by the size and auditorium classes. I graduated from a small Catholic High School and was not able to connect with my Professors.

Who was your favorite professor?

My French professor, Françoise Hibbs. She was from France and encouraged me to do the Study Abroad Program.

What campus was your favorite and why?

Redwood Campus, due to meeting , Françoise Hibbs.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time on campus?

Building relationships with my professors and asking for help.

What advice do you have for current students at SLCC?

Enjoy the ride! I wish I had taken more opportunities to explore what SLCC provided at the time. Each campus offers so many more opportunities now, than it did when I was there in the late 1990’s. Build relationships with your classmates and Professors. You never know when you may reconnect with them in the future.

Aaron Starks
President & CEO, The Utah Aerospace and Defense Association

Hometown City: Huntsville, Utah
SLCC Concentration: Political Science

What led you to choose SLCC?

In 2011, the economy hadn't completely recovered from the Lehman Shock and the state was in a recession which meant employment was difficult to find -- especially for those without a degree or certification.

A friend suggested I look at SLCC, as it "was affordable, local, and convenient" he said. I later found this all to be true and also learned it offered great connectivity to industry and opportunities for students to network with peers and prospective employers.

What was your favorite class you took and why?

Professor Shari Sowards teaches "U.S. Government & Politics" which is a course designed to show how public policy and institutions influence markets and our decision making. It was so interesting to me that I decided to later major in Political Science at the University of Utah. I can't say enough good about Professor Sowards and her commitment to student success.

What is your favorite memory on campus?

Along with a great group of students, we worked with college administration to repurpose funds to a new scholarship aimed at helping support single parents seeking an education. I'll always remember coming back to the campus nearly five years later and watching these scholarship recipients honored for their achievements.

It was a powerful reminder how education can bless families for several generations. It also taught me that the process is important and we learn from sacrifice.

Did you have a mentor while attending SLCC?

I really admired the way President Huftalin engaged students and created a culture of collaboration. She has always prioritized people and has the unique gift of helping everyone she works with feel like they are capable of doing great things. I have tried to implement those qualities in my own approach to leadership.

What advice do you have for current students at SLCC?

Take a few moments to yourself each day and appreciate where you are in life. Studying can be difficult on top of work, kids, and other responsibilities. Someday this chapter will conclude and you will look back with fondness and appreciation - take the long view.

Lianna Kinard
VP of Marketing, Buckner

Hometown City: Mililani, Hawaii
SLCC Concentration: Business Marketing, 2007
Connect with Lianna

What was your pathway to SLCC?

I moved to Utah from Hawaii and knew I should attend community college prior to transferring to a larger university. I was paying for my education by myself and knew SLCC was the best option for me with a campus close by.

What is the best advice you received during your time here?

I took a communications class and feel like that gave me such a great foundation in confidence. My professor helped me find my voice and to stand tall with my thoughts and ideas.

What is a favorite memory on campus?

I attended class at the South City Campus in 2004. They used to have a swimming pool and I would swim laps between my morning classes and afternoon classes.

What is your favorite book you're current reading?

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

What advice do you have for students at SLCC?

Network, get to really know your classmates. I wish I would have made more connections during my time at SLCC. So many amazing people from so many backgrounds.