Why Become a Video Editor: Read Cristin Sass Councils Alumni Spotlight
Alumni Spot Light: Cristin Sass-Council
I think that if I was to go back to high school in California and tell my old teachers and counselors that I’m now a video editor working on my first film, they would look at me like I was growing a cactus out of my brain.
I have had ADD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, anxiety, and depression for quite a long time, and to say that those things didn’t help me with my academic career, would be putting it mildly. To add to this, I came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in junior high (completely by accident) and this opened up a lot of the cruelty that young kids are accustomed to dealing with. To make a very painful and long story short, I was told by my high school counselors and teachers that I would not graduate. Nothing I could do would allow me to walk the stage with my fellow students, nothing I could do would allow me to move past the place of being stuck. I had failed the first test of being an adult. I was flunking out of high school. It didn’t matter I was untreated for my disabilities and my mental illnesses. It was my fault I failed. I let everyone down. My school. My family. Everyone that I assumed wanted what was best for me.
It would take years of soul searching to forgive myself for this. It would take even longer to get over the pure shame of feeling like I was somehow dumb or stupid for not being able to do the most basic of tasks like do simple math without using my fingers (see dyscalculia). I got my GED shortly after moving to Wisconsin to be with the woman I fell in love with. She encouraged me to try and to see past the negativity that was still left over from the cruel comments left over from high school. Not only did I pass the GED the first time I tried, I excelled above and beyond in almost every area. Now, of course, I was in my late twenties, and these tests were made for late teens. But to me, it was symbolic of something I thought I could never ever accomplish. I did it. Here it was. Evidence I was not dumb. Evidence that I could move past what others thought of me. High school was over. Those people didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was what I wanted my life to be.
It would take another few years for me to really embrace what I wanted to do. I had always been a storyteller. All my life I made up stories and drew them out, wrote them down, created worlds and people in my mind. All telling stories of life, horror, fantasy, and tragedy. The true medium that I would thrive in, would find me when I took my love of video games to YouTube. I run a queer based let’s play channel where myself and my wife (we were married Oct 13, 2017) play video games and make commentary. Those very simple videos still had to be edited and ready to present. Small stories. Little edits. I was greedy to just play with the editing software. Anything I could get my hands on. It dawned on me that there were people out in the world that got paid to do this. To make their own content and tell stories. That’s how I discovered MMI.
Madison Media Institute was at first very intimidating. I was going to have to work very hard to fool everyone into believe I belonged there. That I was smart enough. That I was talented enough. That I was enough. I will never forget when Rick took us through the school on the first day. Not only did he assure me that I would be welcome there but that even after telling him I wasn’t very academically inclined, he pointed to the Dean’s List wall and said: “I expect you to be on there every mod.” He had just met me. Had just learned I was an emotional mess (I started crying at the idea that I would actually be able to go back to school) and had learned that my academic history was spotty at best. But there he was, a simple one off comment that told me that he still believed in me. I was still someone that could not only thrive here but make it on a list reserved for those who had perfect grades.
It became my mission. I was going to make it to the dean’s list and stay there. If nothing else but to prove to my old high school, to prove to those teachers and counselors, to prove to myself. I was enough.
I kept my 4.0. I learned more than I ever thought I would, and have been thirsty for more. I began working on my own stories as well as other people’s stories. While stability isn’t guaranteed at the moment (this is the entertainment industry), I have a lot of people watching my back thanks to MMI. Instructors and mentors turned friends and for once a real goal and hope for the future. The best decision I ever made was moving out to Wisconsin to be with my now Wife. The second best decision I made was sending an email, requesting to become a student. I thrived here. Found a home here. Disabilities and mental illness and all.
I hope that anyone looking into furthering their education, either because of your passion or to expand your opportunities, don’t be scared. I was. I was terrified of failing again. Of wasting others time and energy because I wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t my voice. It was those from my past that didn’t care about me. That didn’t have my best interest at heart. It took a lot to move past those voices but I’m so very glad I did. I followed a passion I didn’t think I was smart enough to pull off. Well, turns out I’m pretty damn smart. And I’m pretty good at what I do. I have so much more to learn but I can’t wait to keep going. So as I walk across the stage this month, I do it for the little eighteen-year-old me that saw themselves as a failure and a burden, stupid and useless. I’m walking to drown out those voices that told me that was who I was. I’m walking to live my truth and seek out my passions. I’m walking because I am enough.
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