World Campus student thrives in her return to school
The Penn State World Campus Digital Multimedia Design (DMD) program offered Lauren Schoth the opportunity to finish what she started.
“I stopped and started school multiple times, but as I gained more professional experience, I gained more clarity on my particular interests and skills,” said Schoth, who holds an associate’s degree in business from Santa Monica College and a 900-hour audio engineering certification from the Los Angeles Recording School.
With a professional background in live production and visual design, Schoth has worked over the past decade with non-profit organizations and independent artists alike as an art curator and design consultant, most notably with Art Center College of Design, Disney and Conde Nast as an art model and pose choreographer.
Schoth, a proud member of the honorary society Alpha Sigma Lambda, is now set to graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor of design in digital multimedia design. She chose the DMD program because of its flexibility and diverse forward-thinking curriculum.
Schoth says it was the DMD program’s unique combination of classes that caught her attention.
“When I found the DMD degree in 2018, I saw how I could finish what I had started in a way that allowed me to develop my own path.”
I often refer to the DMD degree as a ‘choose-your-own adventure’ type because it affords so many paths, all while being remote.”
Schoth has carved her own path within the large DMD course catalog, which includes options from the College of Arts and Architecture, Bellisario College of Communications and the College of Information Sciences and Technology. By doing so, Schoth curated her studies to develop multi-domain design skills that combine her interests in interactive technology, digital volumetric design, live events, wellness and storytelling.
During her three-year educational experience as a Nittany Lion, Schoth also blazed new trails for future World Campus students. She is the first student ever to earn general health and wellness (GHW) credit by portfolio. She completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training in the spring of 2018 and successfully petitioned for it to be accepted by the kinesiology program, effectively changing the way GHW credits can be earned across all World Campus majors.
“It took three years for my portfolio to be accepted by the kinesiology department, but we did it. My academic adviser called it ‘revolutionary,’” said Schoth. “I couldn’t have done it without fostering meaningful relationships and remaining patient. Community is really important to me, so I am very happy to be able to pay it forward to future online students across Penn State.”
In the spirit of creating community, Schoth also helped form the Digital Multimedia Design Club, serving as treasurer, and later vice president (2018–19). She then went on to become the first DMD student to obtain credit for an internship when she petitioned to earn credit for Digital Arts (DART) 495, a class previously only available to University Park students before the pandemic.
Schoth recognized the value of interning in professional settings, and advocated on behalf of World Campus students to be eligible to earn credit, too.
“I saw the value in being able to get real-world experience while studying, so once I received confirmation that I could enroll in DART 495, I set a goal to find an internship before I graduated. It was about a year in the making!” said Schoth.
In summer 2019, Schoth attended SIGGRAPH, an annual conference on computer graphics, which opened up an internship opportunity in summer 2020 at Toy Robot Media, a live events media company.
“I couldn’t have known that by the time I would get the chance, we’d be in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. What I thought my experience was going to be like suddenly and dramatically changed. I had to adapt and reform my expectations, and my deliverables,” said Schoth.
It was a very unique experience specifically because I was able to witness the development of new services within one media company, as the industry as a whole shifted in real time.”
While interning, Schoth aided in the research and development for virtual production tests, gaining hands-on experience in the digital media processes of using game-engine and live-streaming software to create real-time, digital events.
Schoth admits that going to school online can be both challenging and isolating, thus requiring a lot of personal initiative.
“I encourage other students to use remote learning as an opportunity to get to know themselves and push past their comfort zones when it comes to engagement. Ask questions, cultivate community and set up healthy boundaries. This is your time to be a student, so make it count!”
The self-driven, asynchronous nature of her online educational experience has helped Schoth hone her creative process while balancing her school and work responsibilities. She currently assists at a private Los Angeles workshop where she is learning woodworking, laser-cutting and physical computing.
As Schoth prepares for her graduation, she continues to explore human-centered design, using information science and technology, communications, and visual design applications. She encourages all college students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them and to advocate for new opportunities and resources.
Schoth gives a special shout-out of thanks to Michael Collins, Amanda Holdren, Christine Shanks, Renea Nichols, Stephanie DeTar, Jet Olaño, Robert Leifheit and Toy Robot Media. See some examples of her work on her student blog, https://sites.psu.edu/laurenschoth.