Commencement Stories: Terry Bedard and a Dream No Longer Deferred.
Terry Bedard is passionate about learning. It's in her DNA, part of the culture of her hospital, and a trait she tries to instill in each of her 65 employees. She believes in leading by example, and why the grandmother of seven went back to school and will graduate with a master of science in nursing from Excelsior College this year.
For those working in the criminal justice field, an inconsistent schedule and lack of time are two of the main barriers to pursuing a higher education. That's one of the reasons Excelsior College offers the Criminal Justice Training Assessment (CJTA) program, which helps law enforcement officials convert training to college credit.
Robert Wright, Jr., Ph.D., is an alumnus, who completed a study on nitric oxide connecting emotional and physical well-being to stress and feeling good. The study has potential impact to the healthcare industry and could save money on wellness.
Sociologist Dr. Christopher Davidson, an adjunct instructor at Excelsior College, joins the podcast to discuss Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and what role, if any, they can or should play in higher education. Dr. Davidson argues that the reality of MOOCs is differs from how they are portrayed by the mainstream media and advocates.
Filmmaker and Thrillseeker: The Sorrow's Vernon Mortensen
By Alicia Jacobs, Excelsior Life News Staff--
Businessman, filmmaker and thrillseeker, Vernon Mortensen spent his entire life circling the globe, visiting more than 83 countries in search of adventure and fortune. Today he is following his dream of making movies after pursuing his education and a diversified career path. His life experiences are so varied, that they sound like roles in a movie. Mortensen has been an engineer, sailor, private investigator, US special operations commando, EMT, bodyguard, librarian, teacher and entrepreneur. Excelsior Life sat down with Mortensen, a graduate of Excelsior College, to learn about his current work, directing the western film, "The Sorrow."
Excelsior Life: Where did your passion for film making begin? Mortensen: When I was a kid, my dad's cousin worked as a Teamster for Universal Pictures and for two weeks he took me to work with him on the set of Back to the Future. I had full run of the set and watched everything that happened. That's where I fell in love with making movies.
Excelsior Life: What inspired you to get into this business? Mortensen: In Film School I made a short film called "Brothers" that was accepted into a film festival. One of the judges at the festival was Kirk Harris, founder of Rogue Arts, a company at which I am now a partner. I was blown away by Kirk's "can do" attitude and the way he was building his company up from nothing to be a real player in the indie movie business. We talked for a while at the festival and really hit it off. Soon I was developing scripts for Rogue Arts and eventually became a full partner.
Rogue Arts is one of only three US independent-production companies to successfully co-produce a feature film in Mexico using the Mexican Film Fund. The resulting movie, "The Kid: Chamaco" starring Martin Sheen, is a shining example of cross-border collaboration in the film industry.
Excelsior Life: Your background includes the US Navy. How did your career path and education impact your role as a filmmaker? Mortensen: My background in the Navy is in Special Operations (I was a Navy SWCC Commando) so I fit right into the indie film world. Making a movie, and especially an indie movie, is like a special operations team going to war. There's the planning and logistics phase (pre-production for movies) followed by the execution phase (production), and finally, the after action (post-production). Indie film crews are smaller than their studio counterparts and members often wear more than one hat... It's just like a Special Boat Detachment or a SEAL Platoon. In fact, one of my fellow producers on "The Sorrow" is Neil Trusso, one of my closest friends and a Navy SEAL that deployed with me in 1994 to Somalia. For Neil and I, making movies is a lot like being back in the Teams.
My education was key to my survival in the movie business. I would watch my friends, who had no college education, wait tables to make ends meet when movie work was scarce. I used my education to teach part-time instead. Teaching has better hours and better pay, and I found out that I really enjoy it. I'm now a teacher in an MBA film program; not because I have to, but because I really enjoy it.
Excelsior Life: Where did you go to college and what did you study? Mortensen: In addition to receiving my BS from Excelsior College, I have an MBA from Alliant International University (formerly USIU). I also have a Master of Professional Writing (screenwriting) from USC, where I studied under script guru Syd Field and was an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Fellow. I earned a BFA in Film from the world-renowned Art Center College of Design.
Excelsior Life:For someone interested in pursuing a career in writing, producing or directing, what skills are important? Mortensen: Perseverance. The movie business takes years, sometimes decades to break into. Very few people have instant success and most never make it.
Excelsior Life:Do you have a highlight of your career that you would like to share? Mortensen: Having my son visit me on set. He had a blast and I think movies are in his future... just like when I visited the set of Back to the Future.
Excelsior Life:Your current movie is the western film, "The Sorrow." Can you tell us a little about it? Mortensen: The Sorrow is about a father and son gold mining expedition during the 1800s. The 15 year old boy, Casper, witnesses a terrible accident that cripples his father and suddenly he's all alone in the wilderness with bandits and Indians on the prowl. Casper is forced to grow up quickly which propels him to a surprising climax. It stars Kirk Harris (The Kid: Chamaco), Ryan Ballance, John Savage (The Deer Hunter) and the legendary Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill 1 & 2).
[Anticipated release date: Spring, 2013.]
Excelsior Life: Outside of filmmaking, where do you spend time? Mortensen: I teach in the MBA program at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. I live on a ranch, high in the mountains east of San Diego, with my family and three giant Newfoundland dogs.