Homecoming has always been a time of celebration when current students, family, and alumni gather to commemorate Houghton’s influence on their lives.
Today, Houghton alumni are dispersed all over the world, pursuing excellence for the glory of God in their respective disciplines. Two recent Houghton alumni, Sophia Ross ’17 and Olivia Graziano ‘16, have moved on to utilize their degrees in a unique, professional setting and impact many. Ross currently works as the Marketing Associate at Image Journal, a literary quarterly in Seattle, Washington. Graziano works as the Creative Director of Intermotion Media, “a group of creatives” that use video to tell “unforgettable stories.”
For Graziano, landing a job right after graduation was initially challenging. “I searched for about a year, applied to over forty jobs and got rejected by all of them,” she said. “By chance, Wesley Dean, another Houghton graduate, reached out to me and I ended up starting to do some contract work for him. He liked it so much that he wanted to bring me on full-time.”
As part of the interview process, Graziano traveled to Cambodia with the Intermotion Media team, partnering with World Hope International, an organization that works with “vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice.” “My experience alone in Cambodia really changed me as a person,” she recalled. “We were able to film the story of a woman that was a victim of severe domestic abuse. She is the first Cambodian woman to ever successfully file and win a domestic violence court case, resulting in her ex-husband’s imprisonment. World Hope is trying to create more awareness in global communities, so there’s a place women can go to seek help in cases like this.”
Graziano is passionate about filmmaking because it presents a unique opportunity to bring about cultural transformation. “The reason I got into video was because it’s a way that you can show others your point of view or tell them a story, and change how they think,” she said. “That’s what videos do—they have the power to change how people think.”
Currently, Graziano and her team are filming footage for Houghton’s IMPACT marketing campaign, which focuses on the impact that both current Houghton students and alumni are making around the world. Next month, the Intermotion Media team will travel to Kenya and Nigeria to partner with the United States Institute of Peace in making a video to “counter violent extremists and radicalization” and “promote rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists in East Africa.”
For Ross, her position as a full-time employee at the non-profit Image Journal enables her to fully pursue her passions. “Working at a literary journal means that I use both my majors (English Literature and Writing), which are also my passions, every day,” she said. “I get to continue learning from great writers, not only about my craft, but about the business aspects of publishing. I also get to read several pieces of great writing a day, and decide how to present them to our audience.” An average day includes “scheduling posts to social media and the blog, meeting with interns or the editor, curating content for the online newsletter and blog,” and also “proofreading manuscripts before they go to print,” all the while ending her day by “checking social media and interacting with the readers online.”
One of her favorite aspects of the job is how she is able to connect with the contributors to Image Journal. “I love that a big part of my job is engaging directly with writers and readers of the journal,” Ross said. “I manage Image’s website, blog, online newsletter, and social media accounts, which means that I’m constantly in touch with contributors, as well as readers who are engaging with posts.”
Ross was excited to learn more about how non-profit organizations function, and has directly experienced “just how vital every person is to the organization.” She has been challenged daily by the work environment, which has pushed her to stay constantly aware of how she uses her time.
For Ross, a Houghton education was excellent preparation for her position at Image Journal. “I can’t overemphasize how instrumental Houghton was in preparing me for this job. First of all, the professors I had at Houghton pushed me to pursue excellence in my writing and critical thinking, both of which are absolutely central to this position. I can’t thank them enough,” she said. “My roles as an RA and as an editor on the Star and the Lanthorn taught me how to prioritize my time, improved my communication skills, and gave me the tools I need to work in a professional environment.”