Bright Lights: Students’ Stories Across the Corcoran

Students in studio lighting class collaborate on video project showcasing student experiences at the Corcoran

Students in studio lighting class with Corcoran professor interviewing Theatre and Dance senior Kaiylah Watts
Professor Tankersley’s studio lighting class, including second-year Adil Siddiqui (Camera C), first-year Graeme Sloan (Cameras A&B), first-year Andrea Garcia (interviewer) and second-year Joy Bullock (sound), interview senior Kaiylah Watts
June 18, 2018

This past semester, Professor Benjamin Tankersley and his studio lighting class have worked diligently on a comprehensive video project, exploring the experiences of several Corcoran students and sharing the ways in which the school has impacted their lives.


Their main goal when embarking on this project was to show the diversity of personality and lifestyle present within the Corcoran student body and to provide a resource for potential Corcoran students to learn more about their program of interest. They decided that their work should reveal how and why students chose to pursue their passions at the Corcoran, all while challenging their abilities as filmmakers and designers.


The final products from the effort provide unique, personable perspectives to the Corcoran’s degree programs, and demonstrate numerous opportunities for students, all available at the Corcoran.


The first video by Eric Dietrich (BFA Photojournalism ‘19) features Julie Hansen, a BFA Graphic Design major, whose excitement for real-world experience and passion for challenging projects has made her a successful leader in the Design program. As a graphic designer, she defines her role as “the invisible artist.”


In the next clip, Kate Sherwood outlines the various opportunities that proximity to some of the Nation’s most prestigious museums has provided her as an MA Museum Studies candidate. This video was created by Jasmin Flores, a D.C. native pursuing her MA in New Media Photojournalism.

The Corcoran’s Interior Architecture degree is personified by Shannon Turner, an undergraduate student who believes that things are not always what they seem. In this clip shot by Joy Bullock (MA New Media Photojournalism ‘18), Turner speaks about how her goals to create spaces open to conversation and encouraging community interaction are inspired by the city of D.C.

Shot by Adil Siddiqui, this video features Layla Saad, a studio art major, who stands out with her own unique perspective as a Muslim student. She is grateful for the freedom of expression she has found at the Corcoran, and enjoys the creativity and problem solving it takes “to express [her] art on [her] own terms.” Siddiqui is an international student from Pakistan, who just graduated from the MA New Media Photojournalism program in 2018.

Kaiylah Watts, an undergraduate theatre major, claims that performing in program productions and interning with DC Ballet School were among the highlights of her college career. The video is by Andrea Garcia (MA New Media Photojournalism ‘19), who is now working with LGBTQ communities to tell their stories.

Hana Springer represents the dance program as a double major in International Affairs and Dance, reflecting on her time as an apprentice with the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. Springer claims that the dance program helped her grow both as a performer and a creative thinker.


Shot by Amina Javed, an international student from Pakistan working towards her Masters in New Media Photojournalism, the video emphasizes the ability for dance students at the Corcoran to combine knowledge of the choreographic process with academic scholarship.

The intellectual variety exhibited by GW Corcoran students is further exemplified by Brigit O’Malley, an art history major who loves anthropology as well as architecture and painting. In this video by Youqi Peng (MA New Media Photojournalism ‘19), O’Malley demonstrates how the Art History program allows her to combine her various academic interests along with her love for French culture.

As an MA candidate for the Decorative Arts and Design History degree, Matt Monk has an exemplary dedication to research focused on textiles and costume. By interning with curator Madelyn Shaw at the National Museum of American History, Monk has been able to go above and beyond in achieving his academic goals throughout his time at the Corcoran. This video was shot by Zhouyi Shen, an international student from China who has come to D.C. to pursue her MA in New Media Photojournalism at the Corcoran.

In this last clip, shot by Graeme Sloan, Andrew Hesbacher describes his experience as a music major and trumpet player in the music program. He feels that the holistic understanding he has gained through the Corcoran’s curriculum has benefitted him as a student, musician, and person. Graeme Sloan (MA New Media Photojournalism ‘19) is interested in reporting on rural issues in America and is currently a photo editor for the GW Hatchet.