UCI Lighting Designers Reunite
COVID-19 has ushered in a new way to connect and reconnect with the people in our lives. One opportunity that faculty and students at UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts have taken advantage of is the connection through Zoom online virtual meetups. The digital platform allows people from all over the world to connect in a virtual space through an internet connection, enabling face-to-face time with friends from far away.
On June 29, 2020, a cohort of faculty and alumni from the Department of Drama’s Lighting Design Program met online to reunite with graduates from the program.
The idea came after professors Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz and Jaymi Smith hosted a Zoom pizza party with current students from the program late in the spring quarter. They promoted the event with a post on Instagram, seen by both current students and alumni. John Martin, B.A. ’90, reached out to the group and suggested they have a full reunion for the entire program.
Alcaraz and Smith, along with previous lighting professors Cameron Harvey and Tom Ruzika, quickly collaborated to set up the event. Over 60 alumni, faculty, and current students from incoming classes, ranging from from 1970 to 2023, convened on Zoom. They spent more than three hours telling stories, sharing old photos, and discussing what is currently happening in their industry.
The team created opportunities for smaller groups of alumni to connect by hosting breakout rooms in the session for the different decades combining smaller classes with other close graduation years.
“We had several alumni from the ’70’s join the event,” said Alcaraz. “Many with successful careers at Walt Disney Imagineering, a producer at Sony and another who owns a custom light fixture company that employs over 60 people across the world.”
For the introductions, Alcaraz asked people from each decade to turn on their cameras so everyone could see the members from each class. Key alumni and previous faculty in the department Ruzika, M.F.A. ’74, andHarvey, B.F.A. ’69 and M.F.A. ’71, stayed on for every decade. Everyone had the opportunity to introduce themselves and briefly talk about what they had been doing since they graduated. Current students talked a little about what they were doing at UCI now, and incoming talked about the undergraduate experience and what was bringing them to UCI.
This new form of communication offered the team, who may not have connected so easily given busy production schedules and the limited resources of new students, a safe and convenient way to connect and share ideas, experiences and resources from the comfort of home. Although not all alumni were able to be contacted the event was widely successful. Leave it to the design team to shine a light on new ways to reconnect.
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