New KCC Digital Media coordinator has big plans

PUHI — Three months ago, Stephen Watkins received a full-time contract as the Digital Media coordinator at Kauai Community College. After nearly a year of filling in as an emergency hire, Watkins finally secured his dream job.

“I was always on standby, the go-to guy in case things fell apart. They could count on me, and I was OK with that because I knew that it would come together one way or another,” Watkins said. “I just had to pay my dues and come through the ground floor and do whatever it takes.”

Watkins had the vision of the job since 2009, before he even moved to Kauai. Watkins dreamed of living on-island, and decided to make that dream a reality.

He was an adjunct lecturer in digital media at the University of South Carolina, University of Houston and Penn State before doing freelance work on Kauai.

“Initially, it was a challenge how I could work on Kauai. After doing some freelance work, my goal was to get integrated with the university. There weren’t many opportunities in the Digital Media department, so the best I could do was teach a couple of seminars through the Office of Continuing Education and Training, which was wonderful.”

Watkins soon met Kent Tanigawa from the Kauai Performing Arts Center and became an assistant technician as a casual hire in 2010. After four years, he applied for the webmaster position at KCC and was hired. Watkins served as webmaster for two years until he got the call he had been waiting for.

“As soon as I came into the department, I really wanted to make this the most comfortable and open environment for people to learn,” he said.

“It all seems to be coming together right now.”

Watkins is in the process of revamping the Digital Media classroom, which hasn’t had a facelift in over a decade. Eighteen new tables, a 4K TV and new Mac computers will reinvigorate the department, along with new educational opportunities.

“This fall will be the first time that KCC will offer a degree in Creative Media, an associate’s degree,” Watkins said. “Before there were certificates offered but this is an actual degree. We’re on the threshold of really offering a strong academic pathway for the first time at KCC. We’re really interested in investing in the development of the people who live here and anybody who is interested in these creative media fields.”

The department also will be offering a series of free weekend workshops to the public for anyone interested in learning Digital Media, from graphic design, photography, animation, digital film or video.

The first workshop will be April 15. Keith Ketchum will present “How to Capture and Edit Stunning Portraits.” Space is limited so reservations are required; email for more information.

Watkins also wants to expand Digital Media at KCC by creating more space for creativity.

“It’s going to be a comfortable learning environment with ample space. Plans are under way for continuing expansion of a multi-purpose room which will be a shared facility, but it’ll be utilized for live production and performances,” he said.

While settling into his new role, Watkins has turned to his colleagues for advice.

“I got really good advice from someone on campus, (professor) Ann Kennedy. I went to Ann and asked her to give me some tips. And she said, ‘Steve, if you always keep the students first, you’ll never go wrong.’ It sounds so logical and simple, but I try to do that through everything now,” he said. “And sometimes I have to ruffle some feathers to make sure that my students are comfortable and in a good place to learn, but I’m going to serve them as best I can.”


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