Jordan Collins is not one to seek the spotlight. She prefers working behind the scenes, coordinating details, crunching numbers and solving problems.
So when Collins, a 23-year-old digital filmmaking major with a double minor in theatre arts and small business management, was asked to represent the undergraduate class and deliver a commencement speech for the Stephens College graduation this month, she was shocked.
“Why me?” she wondered.
For those who nominated Collins, the choice was clear.
“She is an incredible young woman,” said Ruth Ann Burke, business manager for the School of Performing Arts, who worked with Collins for three years at the Stephens College Box Office and Citizen Jane Film Festival.
“Jordan is a hard worker, smart, creative and unafraid,” she added. “I am in complete denial that she will be gone soon.”
Collins is among more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students who are scheduled to graduate from Stephens during a commencement ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall.
Additional speakers will be graduate representative Beth Alpers, who will receive her Master in Strategic Leadership, and Shatenita Horton, who will deliver the keynote address. Horton has worked in banking for more than 18 years and is currently the vice president, banking center manager and security officer for Providence Bank in Columbia.
A native of Fulton, Mo., Collins spent a year at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., before transferring to Stephens three-and-a-half years ago to study theatre management. But after one semester, Collins changed her major to digital filmmaking with dreams of pursuing a career in reality television and documentary film.
“I’d like to bring reality television back to something more important,” she said. “I like the idea of going someplace, finding people who live there and showing them as they really are.”
During her years at Stephens, Collins not only worked in the Box Office but also served on the board of the student-run Warehouse Theatre and as stage manager of the Senior Dance Concert for three years. She was assistant director of the biannual Summer Film Institute, taking a lead role in the production of “Chasing AllieCat.”
Collins also landed prestigious and highly competitive internships, including a stint with the Television Academy in Hollywood, the organization that puts on the Emmy Awards, and a summer with Tremendous! Entertainment in Los Angeles, the company responsible for producing reality shows such as “Bizarre Foods” and “Angels Among Us.” She also interned with Figure 8 Films in North Carolina, famous for TLC reality shows such as “Kate Plus 8” and “Sister Wives.”
Closer to home, Collins occasionally works for Spectrum Studios in Columbia, which specializes in producing high-quality digital content for multiple mediums, including commercials, feature films, music videos, short films, documentaries, educational and training programs, news, and sports. She also worked full time for both the Citizen Jane and True/False film festivals in Columbia.
Kerri Yost, an associate professor of digital filmmaking and Collins’ academic adviser, worked alongside Collins during the local film festivals and was impressed with her initiative and knowledge.
“We gave her the kinds of responsibilities usually reserved for people who have worked in our industry a long time,” Yost said. “Jordan is so mature and qualified and has the people skills, communication skills and organizational skills of a professional.”
Yost has no qualms about sending Collins out into the world.
“She’s ready,” she said. “Her biggest challenge will be deciding what she wants to do. Does she want to go straight to L.A. and work in television or maybe work for a film festival or a small production company or do something completely new? She has opportunities, which is fantastic.”
Collins is open to the possibilities and ready for a challenge.
“You have to take charge of your life,” she said. “You have to be motivated and determined to make things happen for yourself.”
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