Throughout our program's long history we have had a number of notable alumni that are spread out all over the country and the world. Below are a few profiles of alumni that have excelled in their fields and done amazing work.
Also check out our list of alumni TV shows and films that are available to watch online.
Danny Quin, Class of 2011, Professional Communication
Danny Quin with his Emmy from broadcasting work at the 2016 Olympics.
When Danny Quin chose Fitchburg State, he didn’t think it would lead to the Emmys. He worried in college he would get lost in giant lecture halls or stuck with indifferent professors. But he found the opposite experience at Fitchburg State, “professors knew each and every one of us - our strengths, weaknesses, and quirks - and that gave them an opportunity to be hands on with each lesson.” He appreciated the opportunity to work with real world clients in the classroom and felt prepared when he joined the workforce.
A life changing opportunity began when he started his internship at Comcast SportsNet New England (now NBC Sports Boston). “As someone who dreamed of working in sports media, I couldn’t have asked for a better internship experience.” Here he learned the ropes of the industry and made valuable connections. They hired him as a freelancer, and Danny got to work on three Superbowls, one Red Sox World Series, and two Olympics (Sochi 2014, Rio 2016). In 2017 he and his team were awarded a Sports Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Trans-media Sports Coverage during the 2016 Olympic Games.
Over the past few years Danny's career has focused on social media marketing, a new field that is rapidly growing and requires multiple skill sets. Currently he works as the Digital and Social Media Specialist at UMass Memorial Health Care. He is grateful for his experiences at Fitchburg State and opportunities he has had. Dan advises new grads that “Everybody's road is different. Just because someone else gets their ‘dream job’ first, doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. Keep your eyes on your ultimate goal and crush each hurdle along the way.”
Deandra Turner, Class of 2017, Graphic Design
Deandra’s vibrant and sleek designs make her work stand out from the crowd. At Fitchburg State she was a hardworking student that thrived on challenges and took advantage of opportunities outside the classroom. In just a few years after graduating, she became the Creative Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
As a student Deandra was eager to improve her work. In class she got experience in presenting her work and accepting critiques, which is essential to her work now. Another significant experience was being the graphic designer for the Fitchburg State Athletics Department. She got to test her skills in a real-world setting, and transformed the look and brand for the department.
During her senior year she interned at Kel and Partners, an agency for public relations and social media. “This turned out to be one of my greatest learning experiences,” says Deandra. “I worked across so many different mediums that I’d never imagined I’d do, such as animations, illustrations, and so much more!”
Deandra started as a freelance graphic designer working for a variety of clients designing posters, ads, and album covers. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital Deandra began as a graphic designer and then was promoted to Creative Director. She creates new ideas for branding and marketing communications, and is also responsible for creating designs for print and digital materials.
Check out Deandra's work at www.deandraturner.com
Zachary Barron, Class of 2013, Photography
Most likely you’ve already seen some of Zachary Barron’s work. He has done photography work for the NFL, Fox TV, Chilis, Wells Fargo Bank, Chipotle, Marriott Hotels, Zipcar, and Quiznos—to name a few. Although he now lives in San Diego, CA his path to success started in the small photography program at Fitchburg State.
Bigger is not always better. In the photography program at Fitchburg State Zach had frequent and full access to equipment, supplies, dark room, and studio space. “No other school has the studio and dark-room time like Fitchburg State. It was so easy to get a unique hands-on experience,” Barron said.
The internship program was also a major springboard for Zach. He was able to intern with photographers Tim Mantoani and Marshall Williams, artists whose work he had admired. “They took me under their wings and taught me the industry.” After his internship, Zach worked for them for 4 years before starting his own studio.
Today Zach is busier than ever at his studio, Zachary Barron Photography. Earlier this year he photographed 39 players for NFL rookie cards. He and his team also shot nearly 230 environmental portraits for a local bank. But Zach still finds time to give back. He volunteers for Outside the Lens, where he mentors high school students interested in creative careers. To Fitchburg State students Zach advises them to, “make sure to use your inspirations to guide your decisions…If you follow something you believe in, the success and fulfillment will come.”
Ashley Rogers, Class of 2006, Theater
It’s no easy feat being an artist in New York City, but Ashley Rogers has forged her own path.
Her plays are bold, entertaining, and thought-provoking. They have been performed at theatres throughout New York and the country. But some of her very first works were performed when she was just a student at Fitchburg State.
Ashley’s first full length play, Politicking Away, was performed by the student group Falcon Players. The beauty of a medium sized school are the opportunities and resources students can’t get at bigger institutions. It was an easy process to get staged readings and performances of her plays at Fitchburg State. The support continued after Ashley graduated, when she was given the opportunity to direct at Fitchburg State in collaboration with tech theater alumni Dan Daly and faculty member Cap Corduan.
“When it comes to making it in the arts, there is no one path” Ashley says. Besides writing plays, she hosts a podcast Is it Transphobic?, edits videos for SCOWL: Fight for Your Rights, and is a writing instructor for Trans and Nonbinary Narratives. Many of these projects have enriched her playwriting. She wrote and performed Pass/Fail, a personal play about the consequences of passing or failing as their chosen gender in the transgender community. She toured this piece in New York, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and Detroit. Some other notable works include Becky’s Christmas Wish performed at The City Theatre in Miami, and Oddity performed at The Brick in Brooklyn.
Recently her play Chasing the Ghost was performed at Fitchburg State by The Forge Theater Lab, an alumni theater company dedicated to developing and producing new plays.
To learn more about Ashley, please visit her website.
Evelyn Island-Mateo, Class of 2016, Professional Communication
Evelyn is an enthusiastic young professional with multiple talents. She has worked behind and in front of the camera in Honolulu, Hawaii. She’s an active volunteer in her community, and a savvy business woman. It was only a short time ago that was an undergrad at Fitchburg State.
What Evelyn loved about Fitchburg State was how hands on the major was. “I enjoyed being able to utilize my experience outside the classroom” Evelyn explained. In many professional communication classes students create content for organizations and non-profits throughout the community. Through her internship she was also able to get even more experience. As an intern she helped produce news at the KITV News Station in Honolulu, where she covered local artists, businesses, and elections.
Her work in TV production has led to many freelance opportunities as an actress and model. If you watch Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix you might spot her in seasons 6 through 8. But when she’s not working on set, she is pursuing her own business ventures. She is an independent business owner with Amway, and also has the sponsorship of a women’s clothing line, Blanca Line.
Recently she received her MBA at Fitchburg State University. She hopes to combine her TV production experience and knowledge from her new degree to expand her small production company, Adams and Eve Productions.
She encourages students to aim high and, “focus on your dreams, set goals, make an action plan, execute—and most importantly never give up.”
Jared Roberts, Class of 2010, Graphic Design
When he studied Graphic Design at Fitchburg State, Jared did not expect to someday be leading the design team for global company. As the Senior Design Lead, Jared runs a team of creatives that create print, online content, animation, and interactive designs to best represent The Brattle Group.
Sharing his work with others is what he enjoys most. He is always eager to hear the thoughts of collaborators and clients. “Feedback, whether positive or negative, is always rewarding,” Jared says. “If it’s positive you know what worked well. If it’s negative, you have a road map for improvement.”
His internship at FableVision was a significant experience. As an intern at FableVision Learning he helped market and brand educational software. Jared says he learned, “a great deal about applying design in the real world and working cross-functionally with other staff.” Most importantly it was also here that he met his future wife.
It was not easy finding work while the recession was still going on, but Jared found small freelance gigs and took any project he could find. His reputation as a team player and hard worker helped, when retired professor Hellen Obermeyer-Simmons passed his resume along to Vantage Partners. He got his first full time job there as a graphic designer.
His advice to recent graphic design grads is to take any opportunity, “never feel that a job is beneath you,” he says. He also advises them to branch out and to “build a network of not only creatives, but anyone whom you know personally and would love to work with.”
Jess Killam, Class of 2013, Film/Video
When she was a student at Fitchburg State Jess Killam was known for being the person that gets the job done no matter how big or small. She always had everything organized and ready to go whether she was stage managing a play or producing a short film. That hard work paid off, because she is now working at the flourishing company Skydance Media Inc.
While at Fitchburg State Jess Killam made the most of her Film/Video courses and being involved in other outside projects. She especially enjoyed her classes with professor Mary Baker. “She was a big resource and advocate for me and my studies both in school, and what I applied to my outside projects.” While still a student Jess was the stage manager for a production of Outside the Wire, which traveled to the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C. in 2013.
Her internship at Skydance was a life changing experience. She started at Skydance when it was still a fairly new company. Here she read scripts, books, and learned about multiple aspects of the film industry. Currently she is the Production Coordinator and assistant to the director for the animated feature LUCK. The film is directed by Alessandro Carloni and set for release in 2021.
Jess advises students to take a wide variety of classes to have a broad understanding of all aspects of filmmaking. “The more you know and comprehend, the more valuable you’ll be to others” she says. And most importantly she recommends helping out and getting to know your peers. “We might look at the film industry as this big thing with so many people, but sooner or later you realize it’s actually a lot small community than you think.”
Dan Cutrona, Class of 2002, Photography
Dan always dreamed of becoming a professional photographer. He jumped at every opportunity that came up, and started as a freelance photographer for The Sentinel and Enterprise when he was only 17. Today he runs his own photography business, and his photos have been featured in multiple magazines including Cape Cod Life, Southern New England Living, Globe Magazine, Home Magazine, and many more.
At Fitchburg State he was able to refine his skills and get real world experience. He is grateful to professor Peter Laytin, who Dan says, “had a huge impact on my life…he just had that presence and gravitas that just made you want to work so hard for him.” Once Dan graduated, he felt ready to ready to enter the job market, “because of my experience through my internship at Fitchburg State, I started shooting some architectural photography assignments.” This led to more clients, and has become Dan’s specialty as a photographer.
Aside from architecture, Dan has photographed a wide array of subjects from oyster fishermen to corporate executives. “The thing I love most is just being able to be part of someone's life for a day,” Dan says. He is proud of a series of portraits he did for Cape Cod Life, in which he photographed artists, business owners, fishermen, and people from all-walks life from different Cape Cod towns.
To current students he advises that they get as much experience as they can. He encourages students and recent grads to go after opportunities to be an assistant, freelance for a local paper, observe shoots, or intern at a magazine or studio. Check out his work at Dan Cutrona Photography.
Kiara Pichardo, Class of 2017, Theater
Kiara Pichardo is a versatile and confident actress who stands out in any project she works on. She has appeared in commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts, and acted in SMILF (Showtime) and The Society (Netflix). And if you’re looking for a new holiday movie to watch, then be sure to see her in A Ring for Christmas.
But what may seem effortless on screen actually requires a lot of hard work and discipline. Television shows and films have rigorous schedules that last for weeks or months with 12 to 16 hour work days. But despite the challenges, Kiara says, “it really can’t get much better than when you’re fortunate enough to wake up every day, and love your work, and the process that comes with it, no matter how hard it gets.”
One challenge Kiara easily overcame was making industry connections. Like many students from the Communications Media program, Kiara’s internship was a stepping stone to her new career. As an intern at Boston Casting Kiara met and worked with industry professionals. She says the internship, “taught me so much…I learned about casting companies, talent agents, how to work with clients who are looking for talent, actors etiquette and so much more.”
Some of the work she is most proud of is acting in a production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls at the Huntington Theater Company and working on multiple episodes of The Society. Kiara’s advice for recent theater grads is to keep learning and be kind. She says, “take on-camera acting classes with casting directors, NETWORK, show respect and kindness TO EVERYONE, stay humble, stay hungry.”
Dan Daly, Class of 2009, Technical Theater
Dan Daly’s designs have been seen in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and LA. He has designed sets for operas, plays, VR booths, outdoor theater, and interactive experiences. Some of his recent work includes designing sets for two operas in Boston, Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra by Rossini and Merrie England by Edward German.
When he was a student at Fitchburg State, Dan loved the hands-on nature of the technical theater program. He helped design sets for department MainStage productions and student productions. “Cap Corduan, my professor, pushed me to keep on trying new things, learning new skills, and to take on leadership positions,” says Dan.
That early experience has paid off. Daly is a now a prolific designer frequently working on projects around New York City and Boston. The works he is most proud of are Oasis, a site- specific dance theater piece by Third Rail Theater, and several projects he has worked on for The Corkscrew Festival, including an opera version of A Doll’s House.
It is challenging to be a freelancer, finding new work and handling all the finances, but Dan says, “I love being able to make art for a living. Working in theater is this amazing corner of the art world where you get to create your own work, but still get to work in a collaborative atmosphere.”
Occasionally he has come back to Fitchburg State to teach classes and design the MainStage productions. The advice he offers to students is start finding professional or volunteer opportunities before graduating, and that they should “reach out to designers and companies that you admire.”
To learn more about Dan and his work, please visit his website.
Chanel Friedman, Class of 2012, Professional Communication
Chanel Friedman is a multi-talented professional that loves a new challenge. She has worked throughout the Boston area helping companies and organizations market their ideas and products. Currently she is the email marketing specialist for iZotope, Inc., an audio software company in Cambridge. Before that she was the Marketing Operations Manager for The Cambridge Network, an international education company. But her path to success first started at Fitchburg State.
One of the biggest stepping stones was through Fitchburg State’s internship program. Chanel interned at a public relations firm, The Rendon Group, in Boston. She was also able to work with their non-profit, Empower Peace. “Through this organization I played a major role in planning and executing the largest anti-bullying rally in the U.S. in 2012,” Chanel says. It was challenging and intense work, but Chanel felt “it was incredibly rewarding.”
In speaking about her career and experiences Chanel stressed the importance of making connections. At Fitchburg State some of her best experiences were collaborating with other students. “I found them to be very like-minded, extremely intelligent…I made some incredible friends and had a great time as I was gaining an immense amount of knowledge.” In her professional experiences, she has found that putting work into creating a strong network has been key to finding job opportunities.
She advises recent graduates to be patient, confident, and to “always continue to learn, because in this industry best practices and technologies are constantly changing.”