Student Successes

Dustin Ritchea

MS in Production and Design

What degree are you working toward?

I am currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences in the department of Telecommunications. I am pursuing an M.S. in Production and Design with an emphasis in Transmedia Storyworld Construction. I investigate how we use different media to construct artificial realities. Ultimately I want to connect my extensive background in narration and the humanities—e.g., playwriting, directing, acting, storyowlrd creation, dungeon mastering, writing, etc.—to pursue a career as a creative director/electronic media author. 

Why did you choose graduate school at IU Bloomington?

 I am a Hoosier, born a raised, but I went to Minneapolis for my undergraduate degree. I received a BA in Theater Arts (concentrations in Directing/Dramaturgy/Playwriting, Performance, and Technical Theater) and English (Creative Writing), as well as minors in Media Writing and Religion from Augsburg College in 2013. During my time spent there I studied art and entertainment through various media. For instance, in 2011, I conducted interviews with artistic directors from various non-profit theater companies across the Twin Cities to determine their motivations for producing musical theater, and in 2012 I worked with the McNair Scholars Program on an original research article titled, “Realistic Fantasy and Sub-creation: A Narratological Approach to Storyworld Construction Using J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” For some, these two media may seem mutually exclusive, but I knew there was a connection between them. Indiana University’s Telecommunications department had a very similar mindset to my own. They did not see the boundary between art and entertainment as a dichotomy, but rather a place where synergy was not only possible but essential. I knew I would do the most growth under Bloomington’s umbrella, and so far I have been correct.

What’s been your favorite academic accomplishment since you been here?

During my time at Indiana University I’ve had several profound accomplishments both in and out of the classroom. I’ve grown both emotionally and spiritually, not only grown as a scholar but as a fully-developed human being. In the classroom, I have worked in several intensive and collaborative projects. I’ve helped to develop a roleplaying game module for Pathfinder, I’ve built an in-depth proposal/project scope for a company that will produce a transmedia e-book website/application from my intellectual property, I’ve developed an experience design installation remodeling the use of telephone booths, and I’ve written half of a novel. Last summer, I was an assistant Instructor for a scriptwriting class in London, England and had the privilege to experience European culture. When the class ended, I then spent the summer backpacking Scotland and Ireland. Needless to say, it was amazing. Currently, I am working on finishing the novel and writing an economic analysis proposal for the company mentioned above. In addition, I am a team leader for a brand new class on campus. The Telecommunications department has developed a transmedia class, and I am both teaching and helping to develop the class. I have been busy, but it has been well worth my time.

What advice do you have for achieving academic success?

Live your life. You are here because you have made a commitment to devote your life to one idea/one area of concentration. You are going to be overwhelmed with everything that goes with devoting your life to a paradigm, but it does not have to be your life. Remember to breathe. Go out with friends, exercise, and go to church/find a spiritual release. Academic success is as much about your health as it is about learning. You have to learn how to learn. Always remember this little joke, “What do you call a doctor who got all C’s. You call them a doctor.” I am not suggesting you get C’s—you’ll get kicked out if you do—but you have to be okay leaving your perfectionism at the door. For me, graduate school has been hard. I have been beaten, battered, and bruised by academics trying to help me. Art hurts and so does their love. Remember to roll with the punches. Be prepared to fight for what you believe in, but always keep an open mind. If you have a significant other, keep that bond strong. I have seen graduate school ruin more relationships than anything else but that is only because you are going to be growing as a person. Do not abandon your spouse. You have to work at everything, not just coursework—if fact, graduate school is 75% everything else, 25% coursework—prioritize. Networking is still working. You are going to need friend when the going gets tough, so make friends. Lastly, at the end of the day, always remember to have fun!

What do you enjoy most about life in Bloomington?

The thing I like most about Bloomington has nothing to do with the city itself. I love living alone. I love being responsible for myself, and I enjoy being able to wake up very late without worrying about anyone else. That being said, Bloomington is a wonderful city. It is self-contained, and I don’t feel like I have to go very far to get anywhere—it’s almost like being on an island. There are comedy clubs, Best Buys, Targets, Aldis, Kohls, music venues, straight bars, gay bars, hiking trails, organic grocery stores, regular grocery stores, skydiving and paintball sites (an hour away),  and, of course,  coffee shops—thank the lord for coffee and tea. It’s a great town. You have to make it what you want, but there is always something for everyone. Oh, and they also have Motherbear’s Pizza and Five-Guys, yum!