Hi everyone, it's Rachel again. 

Lynelle Ellis, the program director, has asked me to to tell you why I signed up for a Master of Arts in Cinema, Religion, and Worldview. Several people have asked Lynelle if a traditional master’s degree is worth the time and money. And since I asked the exact same question before I signed up, she's hoping I'll share my story.

Should you join this MA program? I don't know. No degree is for everyone. But I do know that this was the right degree for me. I almost didn’t give it a chance, but I did, and I haven't regretted it yet.

Can you learn filmmaking from other routes besides traditional education? Yes, of course you can. Is a degree from Walla Walla University going to teach you everything there is about filmmaking? No, of course not. But here are three reasons why I believe this program is worthwhile:

1. Potential employers will view you as leadership material
 I worked in the media department of a larger corporation before I joined the CR&W program. And I wasn't treated well. My supervisor had a graduate degree, which is probably why he was given the leadership role. Unfortunately, he was low on leadership skills, and on low filmmaking skills besides.

An advanced degree doesn't change everything about you. It didn't make my supervisor into a leader. But if you feel called to lead, you may need a graduate degree to get that chance. I realized that, without a master's, employers wouldn't consider me for leadership positions. And even though I haven’t quite finished my degree, it has already opened doors for me.

2.  The expert teaching and mentoring will do wonders for your skills
I started this program with undergrad degrees in both religion and communication. Because of how closely those two degrees connect to the topics in the CR&W program, I expected to already know quite a bit of the material. But I was wrong.

This graduate degree is flexible enough to allow students to specialize, and deep enough to add to your knowledge, even if you're already a specialist. The small class sizes allowed teachers to assess what I knew, and then they challenged me to learn more. I've grown in this program, and so have my classmates. Even those whose starting skills, and end goals, may have been different from mine

Jerry Hartman, one of the excellent professors, has tailored several hands-on film assignments to my skill level, and rounded out my visual storytelling skills. I believe that the one-on-one mentoring I’ve gotten from my teachers has been as much worth the tuition as the in-class material.

3. You will meet industry professionals, and make connections with similar goals
Before taking this degree, I felt called to tell visual stories and create positive change, but I felt very alone in my goals. I wasn’t sure if there was a career path for me. But in the two years I’ve spent studying here, I’ve met classmates who care about the same things as I do, and I've already connected with many of them for work opportunities.

I’ve gotten loads of great career advice from my professors, who are experts in their fields, and some of the guest speakers have given me the exact advice I needed to help me discover the next step to my career. Because of the knowledge and connections I've gained in this program, I have plans, not just dreams. 

Could I have done everything on this list without a formal education? Probably yes, but it wouldn't have been easy. And I don’t think I could have done it for less money, or in less time than I spent on my my CR&W degree. 

Getting a master's degree is a big decision. And when the opportunity first landed in my inbox, I didn't give it serious thought. It sounded like a great idea, for someone else. Don't make the mistake I almost made. Take some to think and pray about your options. And if you think an MA in Cinema, Religion, and Worldview is right for you, then fill out an application. I'll be praying too.

Love always,