Shady Side Academy junior Paige Shea interviewed alumna Clyde Munroe '15 and junior Caroline Green interviewed Joel Rubin '89 for the Shady Side News student newspaper. Munroe and Rubin discussed their respective careers, experience at Shady Side and advice for current students.
Read the interviews below:
Clyde Munore '15 article, by Paige Shea
Can you give a brief description of what you do?
I'm a director/ photographer/ editor. Right now I work mainly with artists on visuals for their new releases, songs/EP's/albums ETC. Ranging anywhere from music videos to teasers for socials to cover art. For a few specific artists I work on a monthly retainer as a creative director, meaning I oversee all things visual, not just specific releases. I work with them on building their look and how they want to be perceived publicly... Every once in awhile I'll get asked to shoot for clothing brands or blogs too. I'm looking to get involved in narrative filmmaking too.
How has your time and experience at SSA helped you in your career?
I didn't know it at the time but I learned a lot about empathy. High school was confusing for me, as it is for everyone... When you're a teenager you're really impressionable, you see yourself the way others see you. It weighs on your confidence more than you realize, you fall into a cycle of masking self doubt with anger and sometimes apathy... I just put a lot of energy into hiding how scared I was. My parents always kept my head above water, their assuredness with me even at my worst was how I found my footing. I'm grateful for the big hearts of Jeff Miller, Linda McDonald, and Buddy Hendershot who looked beyond labels for all of their students. They represent what teaching is all about during those vulnerable years. Looking back, their empathetic approach taught me so much about human nature. The environment they created made me want to succeed, I felt heard and pushed and excited in their classrooms. I take that with me everywhere, especially when I'm directing. In general or on set, when you approach situations gently, unbiased, and assured you can accomplish anything. People around you mimic these behaviors, and they're eager to work alongside you.
Did you find your passion in high school? If so, how? If not, what steps did you take to get there?
Yes, but I didn't see it as a career path until the end of my junior year. I was always drawn to filmmaking, but there were limited outlets within the curriculum... Jeff Miller's film study class was my favorite at SSA, 3 friends and I made a video that circulated around for awhile, it was interesting to see how many people enjoyed it and how quickly that happened. It turned my life around honestly, I saw for the first time that I could make people really happy, and it motivated me. I was fascinated by this ability to get reactions out of people, for a brief period of time you can pull people together and make them feel something collectively. I knew after that it was what I wanted to do and I never went back on it since.
Do you get starstruck when you meet celebrities?
Not really anymore, you start to realize that they're just normal people. I feel like the bigger the celebrity the more down to earth they are, they want the same stuff everyone else wants. It was definitely bizarre at first though, working with people you grew up watching on TV or listening to. They mold part of your childhood, you have so many memories associated with them. When they're standing right in front of you and you're trying to give them direction you're just kinda like "what is happening" cause you know younger you would be freaking out.
What has been your favorite project to work on so far?
A music video for Tove Lo and Finneas that came out a few weeks ago, I shot it with my friend Moni and I edited it... We shot everything on VHS in a tiny town between Vegas and LA. Tove danced around playing the character she sings about in the song and Finneas played an angry Uber driver who picked up Tove. Normally, everyone wants to have every second on set planned and it can get pretty rigid pretty fast, but this was the total opposite. It was so lighthearted and fun, we were cracking up the whole time and coming up with new ideas as the day went on. Never done anything like it before!
What is your advice for kids who haven't quite found their passion yet?
I think it's really hard to feel passionate about anything when you're told you have to live life one specific way or follow a certain path. There's something inside everyone, something you're meant to be, and you find it when you forget what you're supposed to be. Career planning is too centered around safety, what is practical and reliable, and that's suffocating. If you're feeling lost now you're probably listening to the noise a bit too much. Let your gut tell you and don't ignore it, let it out and charge at it even if it's hard now. You can't be passionate without happiness, and you can't be genuinely happy unless you listen to yourself.
Joel Rubin '89 article, by Caroline Green
In early January of this year, Shady Side alumnus Joel Rubin '89 joined Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign as the campaign's official liaison to the Jewish community. Mr. Rubin, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, works in media relations and foreign affairs, often appearing on news stations such as MSNBC and FOX.
I recently had a chance to speak with Mr. Rubin and ask him some questions about his career and his time at SSA. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Did you always know you wanted to become involved with politics or foreign policy?
I always loved politics; I always loved the issues that politicians debate, I loved to read the newspaper, and talk about the issues of the day. I also loved international things, and having travelled to Israel and gone overseas on trips. I knew growing up that I wanted to be involved in those kinds of things, so I just followed what I liked.
What experiences directed you down the path you have gone?
There were two that were most significant. The first was when I was in college- I studied abroad in Israel and travelled to Egypt. I saw the extreme poverty in rural Egypt, and I knew that I wanted to do something that would address that. And then after college I joined the Peace Corps. For me, that was getting really involved in working on these issues internationally, and that's when it really started to crystallize that I could work in that area. In the Peace Corps you had to be a mini politician, a community leader, so I was putting into practice my political skills.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
I love going on TV, I get a chance to communicate ideas that I believe in and hopefully change minds about things that I care about. The media is really satisfying when it comes to doing political work. I also do love organizing and talking and meeting different people.
What advice would you give to a Shady Side student interested in a career like yours?
Thinking back to when I was in high school going to assemblies and hearing people speak, what sticks out is learning how to think critically and continually challenge yourself to grow and learn. Professionally, we're always evolving. I never thought in my wildest dreams I could be in politics or policy. The key thing is to have passion for what you're working on. Do what you love - when you do that you'll always continue to learn and grow.
How do you think your time at Shady Side prepared you for your future?
I think it really prepared me to be challenged. It was a learning environment where everyone was really smart and the teachers' expectations were really high. That concept of always seeking to do your best, that's what I learned from SSA, and I think that was the best part in the long run. You forget a lot of things in the short run, but in the long run the takeaway is that this is a school that helped me to push myself to maximize my interests.
Do you have any favorite or notable SSA memories?
Obviously there were social aspects, sports, academics, but actually, my favorite memory was having a library to go to and to just read: look in the periodicals, look in the microfilm, look in the newspapers. There was so much information there. There are also lots of great memories from cross country, classes, and teachers, but to me the best thing was going to the library to continually access information.
Anything else to add?
I've carried with me the rhythm of Shady Side throughout my life: waking up early, getting my work done, doing athletics. The thing about SSA is that it concentrated on the whole of the person and those are things that I've brought with me. It gave me the confidence to be able to go into the Peace Corps or be able to go into Washington and engage in politics or government. The full 360 degree experience of SSA is incredibly valuable for your life over the long run.