Videomaker credits digital media studies degree program at Vancouver Island University for changing her life

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      Elissa Doerksen knows there’s no shortage of options when it comes to obtaining a certificate or diploma in digital-media studies.

      But the former Quesnel resident wanted a degree, which led her to enroll at Vancouver Island University and move to Nanaimo.

      “It had the four-year digital-media studies program, which covered everything—video, audio, and web design—rather than just specializing in one thing, which was exactly what I was looking for,” Doerksen told the Straight by phone. “I wanted to try it all out and see where I could take my career after going through the program.”

      She also found Nanaimo appealing because it wasn’t as “overwhelming” or as expensive as Vancouver. And because she had one year of general studies at another institution, she was allowed into second year and graduated in February of last year.

      “I found the entire experience in my program so supportive,” Doerksen recalled, noting that the small class sizes meant students didn’t feel lost in a large institution. “The teachers were an inspiration to me—all of them.”

      She explained that there are two pathways in the program: digital media and media studies and communications.

      “I ended up focusing my projects on video,” she said. “Even if it was a media class, usually you would have to create something. I would always create video. Other people would create websites. It allowed for unique ways to specialize in that way.”

      Watch Elissa Doerksen's video "5 Things You'll Love About VIU".

      She is now employed by her local church to create videos, do graphic design, run its social-media accounts, and upload material to its website. On the side, she’s developing her own videography business in Nanaimo.

      If Doerksen has one piece of advice for students, it’s to make the most out of their education at Vancouver Island University. She was president of the digital-media studies club, took fitness classes at school, and joined the model United Nations and the Christian clubs. She also worked for the student newspaper and made videos for the university, including one called “5 Things You’ll Love About VIU”.

      “Those are the things that created a well-rounded portfolio for me,” Doerksen said. “Those connections are what got me multiple job offers once I graduated.”

      She also made the most of the Vancouver Island vibe, hiking in local parks, surfing in Tofino, and going snowshoeing. It’s also possible to go sailing and skiing on the same day.

      “The island atmosphere is unique, I think, compared to anywhere else,” she declared. “The university creates a culture where young people feel that they can come here and get a job afterwards, especially in filmmaking and video.”

      "The F Word" is another video that Elissa Doerksen created when she was attending VIU.

      Vancouver Island University has 120 programs, including trades training, and also offers graduate education. When asked if she’s planning on returning to school, Doerksen said that for now, she’s just trying to get as much experience as she can in the workplace.

      “I can learn so much right now,” she added. “I think if I wanted to go get a master’s degree, I would be intending to teach.”