Name: Bryan Navarro
Name/Nickname at SMC: B, B-ry
Year of Graduation: May 2010
Hometown: Oakley, CA
Current City: Medford, OR
What is one of your fondest memories of SMC and the Communication Department?
Two stories about the Communication Department and how they represent the difference between Saint Mary’s and everywhere else.
A.) It’s early April, senior year of high school. I’m on the fence about a couple different schools, but it’s Gael For a Day and I’m on my way to SMC. I get a call on my cell phone from the Department head. He’s responding to an email I sent the night before asking about the Comm Department and GaelVision, the campus TV station. He meets me during lunch for a one hour walk around campus. We toured the computer lab, TV gear room, and Comm offices, talking about what SMC offers. He’s willing to go above and beyond for me and I’m not even a student. Wow.
B.) Fast forward three years. It’s Spring and I’m a Junior. It’s 5pm, I’ve just gotten off of work and I’m exhausted. My homework for the night includes two 8+ page papers and I’m not feeling confident an allnighter will help me finish both of them. I call the same professor I just mentioned on his cell phone and politely, humbly ask (read: beg) for an extension. His response, “Bryan, take all the time you need. Don’t worry about it. How about you get it to me next Thursday?”
"Professors at Saint Mary’s see you much more as a maturing young adult than they see a student. You’re not a number, you’re a human. They want you to succeed, grow, better yourself. And they want to help."
What do you miss about SMC/college?
I miss walking down the Arcade and saying hi to friends between classes. I miss spending nights with friends. I miss french bread pizza at late night. I miss the cold morning giving way to hot days during the 10a-11a classes. I miss staying up late and drinking Red Bull to finish papers. I miss being on the intramural basketball champion team Senior Year. I miss Seminar (surprising and true). I miss the smell of the hallways. I miss how the sky looks bluer on campus.
I think all of that nostalgia is actually just a symptom of my loving Saint Mary’s. I felt welcomed, challenged, and supported there. Professors, staff members, classmates were all friends. They helped me navigate the turns and bumps along the way. Helped me become a better person.
All-time favorite class?
So many choices.
1.) “Rhetorical Criticism.” A scholarly title for a class that investigated how meaning is communicated through different forms of media: a song, a poster, a speech, a photograph. It really taught me how to break down what message was being conveyed and how.
2.) “Communication and Social Understanding.” My first Comm class and, like a gateway drug, it opened my mind up to another reality. I can’t remember exactly what I learned, but I remember being excited to come to class everyday, ready to have my mind blown.
3.) “Wealth and Poverty in the Bible.” This class challenged almost everything I thought about religion, socioeconomic classes, and Jesus’ teachings. The lessons from this class still echo in my head and heart. If I could go through one class again, it’d be this one.
What was the biggest transformation you experienced at SMC? How did you get into the situation where that transformation occurred?
The biggest moments of change during my time at SMC actually happened over 3 weeks away from campus. I was lucky enough to travel for Jan Term, twice to New Orleans and once to Brazil. These weren’t sightseeing vacations, but labor-intensive work trips that were challenging mentally and physically. Add the social aspect of living and working with about 25 other people and it’s a trying experience. As difficult as it was, it was ten times more rewarding. I saw what I was capable of doing to help other people. I saw what my friends and classmates were capable of. I saw what we, as a group, were capable of. The change we could accomplish was unbelievable. Our whole was greater than the sum of our parts.
I now believe the same is true for all team settings and strive to do what I can to replicate that for me, with my friends and family, and at work.
Luck played a big part in getting on that first JanTerm trip and led to the others. But, to me, luck means preparing for opportunities and taking them as soon as they’re presented. Classmates recommended me when a spot unexpectedly opened up. 24 hours after being asked to join, I was in. Dive right into challenges if they’re what you want to do.
What was your first job out of college?
I am a TV news reporter in Medford, Oregon. Working in a small market means I do it all-- shoot, interview, edit, write, and appear live on TV twice an evening. I work with people who graduated from Journalism powerhouse schools like USC, Missouri, Syracuse, Arizona State. They had professors who had been in the business for decades and connections and fantastic on-campus news stations. But I had my liberal arts education and wouldn’t trade it for theirs.
My Communication classes gave me the practical experience (TV Production, Film Production) and theoretical experience (Rhetorical Criticism, Intro to Film History, Communication and Social Justice). Also, some English (Intro to Hitchcock, Screenwriting), Sociology (Wealth and Poverty in America) and, of course, all four Seminar classes contributed. After graduating, I entered the job market prepared on a much broader basis than my coworkers. They knew how to write a lead sentence, ask the right questions, and dress sharp for the cameras, but I knew the psychological effects of shot composition, had a better understanding of my story’s ramifications on its audience and its subjects, how my story would fit into the larger picture of our local community.
It helped that I knew how to shoot and edit (thanks to GaelVision), but I started out a bit behind my coworkers in practical skills. A few months of adjusting paid off. In my SMC classes, I learned to adapt and get better at whatever I was struggling in. That transferred over into the newsroom and kept me afloat.
Today, those same coworkers who seemingly had a head start a year ago are asking me for advice. Also, being involved in student organizations gave me leadership skills that are really coming into play now.
[Note: all of those classes I listed went on my resumé under “Relevant Coursework.”]
Other than work, what is your life about?
Friends come first. I would do anything for the people that I care about and try to hang out with them as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if we’re watching Netflix, hiking in the Southern Oregon mountains, or throwing the frisbee around, I love being around people that make me feel comfortable to be myself.
It took some trial and error to find my real friends at SMC. I bounced around several groups of friends for a while before finding some that supported me unconditionally, made me laugh, and made time fly by.
My Gael friends and I found that we shared the same values. There were topics that we would debate and lines we never crossed. Ultimately, we valued and validated each other for who we were. That’s what I look for in friends now.
Southern Oregon is a special place. A community. People care about their neighbors and make an effort to help each other. It’s reminiscent of SMC in that way. And that’s a good thing.
Actually, I take that back.
Friends come second to family. Family first.
What's your advice for current SMC students?
Soak up every day.
Follow your heart.
Skip sleep to do fun things.
There are countless opportunities waiting for you at Saint Mary’s. Take them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, bite off a little more than you can chew, and be uncomfortable. The professors, staff, your friends will all help. You won’t fail unless you try to. Reciprocate the help you receive.
When you graduate, don’t stop.