CSM is educating the next generation of media makers and Mario Ayala is a perfect example of that college-to-career connection.
When Mario arrived in U.S. from Mexico in 2002, he couldn’t imagine that he would earn a college degree and that the degree would lead to a broadcasting career with a world-class media company. “My English was limited, I had a six-month old daughter and I didn’t have a job.” But Mario knew what he had to do, “I realized that I needed to develop my English skills to make advances in life for my family, so I made an important decision: to work on my education.” First, he began by taking classes to improve his English skills, and then he enrolled in CSM’s broadcasting program.
As a student in the program, Mario was given “real world” experiences. His classes provided professional hand’s on training in studio and field production, camera production, audio recording and lighting. Furthermore, the program’s interdisciplinary approach allowed Mario to explore a variety of possible career choices within the broadcasting industry. Mario credits Associate Professor of Digital Media Michelle Brown as the person who inspired him, “…she is an exceptional teacher and mentor – she encouraged me to go the extra mile.”
He took that encouragement to heart and jumped at the opportunity to be part of the production crew for ‘The Bay Today’ and “Bay Area Vista,” weekly student-produced shows for KCSM-TV. Ambitious and hardworking, Mario managed multiple roles: he served as producer, studio camera operator, director of photography and technical director! Professor Brown says of Mario, “He got involved every time the station offered opportunities for the students to be on the crew and he always made significant contributions to those projects.”
She adds, “In my Digital Video class Mario’s leadership and solid production skills were essential to his team’s successful production of high-quality supplemental programming about Half Moon Bay and the De Young Museum for KCSM-TV. Mario is such a committed and mature director of photography that when he lost his own HD camera to the wild waves at Mavericks while reporting for our student show, he didn’t even complain! He also demonstrated that he can research, schedule, and produce programming that serves the local community.”
Soon after Mario earned his AA degree in Broadcasting and Electronic Media, he was hired by Telemundo, a division of NBC Universal Television Network, as a commercial producer. His degree and the program’s broad-based curriculum prepared him for a career in a highly competitive industry. Mario explains, “I found the broadcasting program offered amazing hand’s-on learning experiences. The college facilities have the same professional state-of-the-art equipment and software that I am using at work. I had the opportunity to participate in real TV productions. And, when I applied for my current position, I felt confident that I had the skills and knowledge that the company was looking for.”
As a commercial producer, Mario writes, shoot and edits promotional media for Telemundo, including event “promos” image spots and entertainment, cultural and travel segments. “Mario is a gifted storyteller. He isn’t just technically-skilled. He knows how to use audio and video to tell an effective story. I’m not surprised he’s producing for a network affiliate. He’s just getting started, in my opinion,” says Professor Brown.
Mario’s hard work and motivation were rewarded – he was the recipient of several scholarship awards including the Steve Davis Undergraduate Overall Excellent Scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Professor Brown recalls the ceremony: “It was so exciting to be in a room full of local broadcasters and media professionals who were all watching Mario’s video as the award was announced! I was so proud!”