Seminar seeks untapped creativity

Speakers plan to inspire students to chase passion, not money

By Hilary Igl

Open to students of all majors, the Creative Enterprise Symposium of 2015 aims to remind students that their creative passions don’t only have to be hobbies.

Speakers Dr. Kishonna Gray, Dr. Maria Dixon and Mutope J. Johnson will be sharing their experience using their creative interests in their careers. The speakers will present 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the Fern Young Terrace of the Young Auditorium.

Director of the critical gaming lab and assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University, Gray researches race, gender and class in video games. As a female gamer, Gray said she found her inspiration for her studies in her everyday gaming-world life on Xbox Live.

“I wanted to shed light on my own experiences as a woman of color in this gaming space,” Gray said. “I got called names all the time. My friends were called derogatory words all the time.”

Gray will speak about gaming culture, video game content and the experiences of women in the gaming community. From these topics, she said she hopes to show students that even something like a video game can have a huge impact on our culture.

Organizer Leslie LaMuro said the Symposium is set up to “encourage people to think about how creative people are needed in all types of business fields.”

Dixon, organizational communications professor, director of communication studies, and adjunct associate professor of homiletics at Southern Methodist University; and Johnson, a UW-Whitewater graduate and Milwaukee-based visual artist, will be speaking about how they’ve taken their creativity and made a difference.

Gray wants to encourage students to follow
their dreams and avoid what she calls the race of chasing money.

“My advice to students is to make sure they get involved in a field or a career that truly interests them,” she said. “They can find a way to make it work. People are always shocked that I spend my day playing video games. It’s the best career ever, but far too often students get into majors for the pay. That’s just not realistic. Yes, money is important, but happiness far exceeds any amount of money. You have to be happy first, then everything else will fall in place.”

Lead organizer Megan Matthews, a UW-Whitewater professor, and LaMuro chose the theme “Planting the Seeds for Creative Enterprise” because there is a push for creative enterprise curriculum.

LaMuro said this curriculum would help students in creative majors learn how to make a living in their chosen field.

“We’re excited to have this be the fourth year of [the Symposium], and hopefully this can turn into something even bigger,” LaMuro said.

LaMuro said she hopes to see students think about how being a well-rounded individual will help further their future and give them the tools they need to be successful as they move forward in their careers.

“I’d like [students] to think about how art, culture and communication can stimulate economic growth,” LaMuro said. “We want them to see people that are taking what makes their heart sing and making a living at it.”

There will be a reception after the Symposium from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. where students will have the opportunity to meet the speakers and enjoy free food.

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