This interview first appeared on SIGGRAPH member profiles. Emma Gauthier has been involved in the Student Volunteer program at SIGGRAPH conference in various capacities since 2013. Applications for the SIGGRAPH 2017 Student Volunteer program are being accepted until February 13, 2017. Team leader applications are due on January 9, 2017.
1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I currently work as a Learning Media Specialist at my alma mater, VCU – I help faculty and students move beyond tradition to implement new technologies and techniques in the classroom. I’ve been at it for about 2 years now.
2. What was your first job?
At 14, I started work at a Music and Arts Center renting instruments, locating obscure sheet music and restringing guitars (was a total band geek, so it was awesome). I worked there through high school before moving on to ice cream scooper, barista, and HVAC receptionist, to name a few.
3. Where did you complete your formal education?
I received my BFA in Kinetic Imaging from VCUarts in 2014.
4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?
I first came to SIGGRAPH as a Student Volunteer in 2013. I’d been a member of my school’s SIGGRAPH Student Chapter since I was a freshman, but it took me until junior year to learn about the SV Program. When my classmates came back from SIGGRAPH 2012 raving about the conference, I applied not knowing exactly what was in store. I got on a plane for the first time, flew to Anaheim, and ran around the conference as a PA for Scott Lang and the SCOOP team. I was hooked. The next year I served as a Team Leader, then SVSC, and now I’m thrilled to be serving as SV Program Chair for SIGGRAPH 2018.
5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH conference?
It’s hard to pinpoint one memory. For me, there’s always something special about the Student Volunteer Orientation. I love seeing the mix of old and fresh faces and the excitement that builds as everyone checks in for a new year. The energy is so palpable – and reveals that between this conference, its community, and the feelings it inspires, we have something extremely special on our hands.
6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.
While it’s not strictly computer graphics-related, my team at VCU has been working on a project called Artfulness, which aims to reduce burnout in the workplace through creative activity that integrates principles of mindfulness.
7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?
Sentimental answer is that I would love to take all 4 of my grandparents out to dinner, as I never had the chance to know them.
Selfish answer is Gil Scott-Heron, who was a fascinating and extremely talented wordsmith. His music and speech tread that beautiful line of being both aesthetically interesting and blatantly political – walking the walk and talking the talk. His work exemplifies a sort of bravery and bluntness I think a lot of us struggle to express.
8. What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have a twin! I also come from a big family – I’m one of 8 kids, and my siblings’ birth order goes 4 girls, then 4 boys… which means my parents had built-in babysitters. My fam is a pretty hilarious example of probability.
9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?
I could never trace it back to one. I’ve been blessed to have many special people come and go in my life and all have gifted me with different lessons. My parents teach me patience and forgiveness; my siblings teach me humor and unity; my mentors help me understand what it means to make your mark and how to make peace with that; and my friends and loved ones teach me gratitude, constantly. Even strangers I’ve only known briefly have gifted me insight I never would have come to on my own. Every interaction holds a potential lesson. I try to stay open that.
10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?
My teammates in the Student Volunteer Program are a huge influence in why I love working with SIGGRAPH. You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people so dedicated to not only building up this awesome organization, but also building up each other. It’s a community I’m proud to be a part of and excited to continue.
As well, my professors from my time in undergrad – Steven Vitiello, Pam Turner, Bob Kaputof, and Bob Paris – still have a big impact on me as I’ve travel down this road with SIGGRAPH. Their wisdom helps me focus in and identify how this conference helps me grow: as an artist, leader, innovator and citizen of the world. They’ve been amazing advocates who help me think far beyond the world that’s in front of me.
11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?
I won’t say. I think my very proudest moment is still yet to come.