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Film grad saw opportunity for outdoor adventures, pathway to dream career at ASU

By

Kirsten Kraklio

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

For Maximillian Conacher, attending Arizona State University offered an opportunity to explore a new state and seize adventures on and off campus.

“I wanted to experience living in another state other than Texas, where I had spent my entire life. ASU ticked all the boxes from what I wanted to study to experiencing more outdoor activities,” said Conacher. “The location of ASU put me in a great spot to travel to all the new places I’d always dreamed of visiting.”

On holiday and semester breaks, Conacher spent his free time traveling to destination spots like the Grand Canyon; Sedona, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; Moab, Utah; Los Angeles; Lake Tahoe on the boundary of California and Nevada; and Telluride, Colorado.

His ability to travel was helped in part financially by his part-time job as a student worker for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a role he started as a first-year student.

“Working for The College all throughout my college experience gave me the freedom to do what I wanted outside of school, like go on ski trips with the Snow Devils, and taught me how to manage my time both as a student and worker,” he said.

Conacher said being a student worker also offered flexibility while learning hands-on skills.

“The flexibility my job provided me with working hours and adaptability to my schedule was something I can’t say would be the same elsewhere. Not having to commute somewhere off campus was so nice,” he said. “I highly recommend looking for an on-campus job as a student if you want to make a little extra money and work to improve your school in the process.”

Allison Connell, director of marketing and communications in The College, praised Conacher for his consistent display of skills and professionalism.

“Max is an incredibly talented and hardworking student who always went above and beyond in his role as student videographer,” Connell said. “Our team is so grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with him, and we are so proud of his achievements and his commitment to The College."

This fall, Conacher graduates with his bachelor’s degree in film (film and media studies) from the Department of English as well as a minor in business. He shared more about his experience at ASU.

Question: Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study film and media studies?

Answer: I knew after taking a film class in my last year of high school that I wanted to pursue a career in film, and the courses provided at ASU put me on the path to achieve that dream. Choosing film and media studies as my major allowed me to learn more about the industry I want to spend the rest of my life working in.

Q: What’s something you learned while at The College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned a lot during my time at The College, but one thing in particular was the advancement and impact social media has on our lives and society today. I was always aware of the downsides of social media, but after taking several courses on social media specifically, I realized that we will always depend on social media for our content needs despite some of the scarier aspects of it. Being someone who wants my work to be showcased on social media, I have learned all the ways I can leverage social media to my advantage.

Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way? If so, how did you overcome them?

A: As a student, working alongside my studies, I had to learn to prioritize my time in order to finish classwork on time as well as getting in sufficient hours to get projects done at work. The discipline I gained throughout my time at ASU is something I would not have been able to attain elsewhere.

Q: Did you receive any scholarships while at ASU? How did they impact your experience?

A: I received the New American University Scholar Dean's Award, and without that scholarship I would not have been able to attend ASU as an out-of-state student. The scholarship helped me to not worry about money and allowed me to focus on my studies rather than working multiple jobs or attending a university in Texas, where my opportunities would not be the same as ASU.

Q: Were there any clubs/organizations or opportunities that positively impacted your ASU experience?

A: The one club I spent most of my time on different trips and social events was with Snow Devils, ASU’s ski and snowboard club. Meeting people who share the same interests and passions that you do is something everybody should do. Being able to go on trips in the middle and at the end of semesters really helped me recharge for the upcoming semester. The memories I made in the club will stick with me for a lifetime, and the friendships I made will hold strong for years.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Sarah Florini taught me what it takes to utilize social media to the best of my ability and showed me the influence social media has on our everyday lives. After every class she taught, I felt empowered with the tools necessary to make a career out of social media. Her classes were some of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: No matter how hard it may be now, keep your head up and push through because you will be thankful for all the hard work in the future. Also, don’t forget to enjoy your four years, because they are some of the best times of your entire life.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I have no concrete plans as of now, but my hope is to work with a large company’s creative team, like Red Bull or Tesla, or maybe even continue to work for The College. I know for certain I will end up in California sometime in the near future, utilizing the things I learned at ASU and from all the experiences I’ve had during my time in Arizona.