Noted alumni share careers in creativity forum

By Alexander Slavitz

Contributing Writer

Four University graduates embraced limitless exploration of one’s passions in a lecture that was part of the Bucknell Forum Series “Creativity: Beyond the Box.”

Each alumnus discussed their experiences upon graduating the University and relayed essential life advice to current students.

Nyambi Nyambi ’01, actor and former guard for the Bison men’s basketball team, shared his experiences of success with current University students.

“If you celebrate the other people around you and their successes, you can’t help but be successful yourself,” he said.

Justin Schwartz ’04, a roller coaster engineer for Universal Studios, also spoke about his success.  He explained that, in his experiences, the most difficult part of thinking of new ideas is applying logistical constraints while simultaneously using creativity.

Matt Hawley ’03, Senior Game Producer at Blizzard Entertainment, the creator of games such as World of Warcraft and StarCraft, echoed Schwartz’s advice.  

“Putting constraints on the beginning prevents further creativity,” Hawley said. “Sometimes you throw something away just to see it come back a year or two later.”

All four presenters agreed that to be successful in any career, one must have a true passion for whatever the project entails.

“At Blizzard, everyone is a hardcore gamer at their core, so they want to play [Blizzard’s] games. A lot,” Hawley said.

Innovative Projects Manager, Martine Worrall Stillman ’04, who works for Nike at Synapse Product Development, highlighted that passion was one of her virtues, as well. As innovative projects manager, Stillman tests Nike’s products so that she can understand the venture from the perspective of her target market.

“We try to understand the audience from the deepest level we can,” Stillman said.

To show how this goal is accomplished, Stillman explained that everyone at Nike wears Nike shoe products in order to better understand the needs and desires of consumers.

Nyambi viewed this idea of listening to the target audience quite differently. 

“The audience can make you feel great or it can make you feel horrible,” Nyambi said.  

He admitted that although he pays attention to the producers, he tries not to get caught up judging his quality of performance through customer reviews. Out of 100 positive reviews, Nyambi claims that he will distinctly remember the one negative one.

Although Schwartz agreed with Nyambi’s explanation, he felt that his career involves listening to the creator of the idea for the product he is working on. Schwartz said that in the construction of the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios, for example, the biggest concern for the engineers was upholding J.K. Rowling’s vision of Harry Potter within the ride.

The final topic of the series focused on the idea of failure. Each alumnus remarkably emphasized the advantages of failure.

Each speaker provided a different twist on their reasoning for viewing failure as a benefit. Together, they cited the importance of learning from one’s individual mistakes in the pursuit of success. 

“Failure is a wonderful gift. You have to risk failure in order to receive benefits from it. When you give yourself over to the idea of not worrying about failing, amazing things will happen,” Nyambi said.

Additionally, while many students worry that their undergraduate major will dictate their work for the rest of their lives, the four alumni presenters emphasized that this is not always the case. Nyambi serves as living proof.

“[Nyambi’s life] was very interesting because it showed that even though he didn’t study his actual career in college, Bucknell still provided him with an opportunity to find what he actually loved to do,” Taylor Sisti ’15 said.

Students who attended the forum believed that the lecture was both an informative and worthwhile experience.  

“It was insightful and inspiring. [The speakers] are a testament to Bucknell’s amazing alumni who are great at what they do,” Matt Terry ’15 said.

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