When a flashy graphic plays on the big screen at a Saint Leo University sporting event, there's a good chance the brainchild behind its creation came from graduate student Sarah Dorko.

Flocking to Saint Leo

The 22-year-old native of Hermitage, Pa. and current San Antonio, Fla. resident came to the university somewhat unexpectedly.

"I graduated from a university up in Pennsylvania with my bachelor's in creative writing with a minor in publishing and editing," she says. "I was applying for jobs online, and I eventually heard from Tim Simpson in the Saint Leo athletic department about a new graduate assistant position there doing multimedia work."

Getting the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree while also having this role in a field she loves could not have been a better combination, she confides.

"It was kind of a win-win for me," she says.

As an undergrad student, she interned at a literary agency and worked for her previous university. In this multimedia role, she helped produce broadcasts for the athletic teams by doing camera work and handling other production elements. She even did some freelance video work for the city of Hermitage.

In her current position, she's worked with Saint Leo's basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball teams to help stream their events online and provide support for video board and scoreboard content. Of course, she's always willing to help set up and clean up for events as well.

"Sarah is a kind, caring individual with a creative personality," says Simpson, the manager of athletic multimedia who oversees her work. "She has exceeded our expectations. She had a good technical background coming in, but it has been her creativity that has really helped this office grow. She is a hard worker, and her motivation and drive have pushed this athletic department to do some great things."

Experience in Saint Leo's Creative Writing Graduate Program

While working as a graduate assistant in athletics has opened the door to lots of hands-on experience, Dorko is still primarily focused on pursuing her MA in creative writing. She enrolled in the low-residency curriculum in the fall of 2017.

 "I have had lots of fun already in this program," she says. "It's been very accessible and very self-imposed. You basically do two courses each semester with one focused on reading and the other on writing. It really gives you the foundation to work off of and grow from."

 She offers up some advice for those who are interested in earning a degree online – or through nearly any platform they choose.

 "You shouldn't be afraid to put in any extra work and time," she advises. "You also have to be passionate about what you're doing. Always remember that there is more to learn, no matter what you're studying."

 While being a distance learner is certainly different than attending courses in a lecture hall, Dorko does enjoy participating in the private Facebook group set up for all students and connecting with fellow creative writing classmates by e-mail and through other online tools.

 In terms of a favorite author or genre she likes, it's tough for her to come up with a specific list.

"I jump around so much and try not to stick to reading only one author," she says. "I did fall in love with Cormac McCarthy's The Road."

She is writing a novel for her thesis project on a young man who is graduating from high school and is about to officially enter adulthood.

"I like writing about transitional periods and can really relate to that."

As for her ultimate career goals?

"I love being creative and using different platforms, so I hope I can find something that allows me to have this outlet," she confides.

SEE MORE: Check out Sarah Dorko's YouTube channel to see some of her video work.

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Sarah Dorko and is used with permission.

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