Caylar RuckerIn the media industry, an “early adopter” is someone who starts using a new technology before anyone else. When it comes to Broward College, the term certainly refers to Cayla Rucker.

When Cayla walks across the stage and receives her Associate in Science degree on May 5, she will become the first student at Broward College to graduate from the New Media Communication program.

A Passion for Media

Cayla has always been fascinated by digital media and the space it can open up for different voices. She was inspired by media innovators to be a voice for inclusion. “I’ve looked up to women like Oprah Winfrey who paved the way for mass media that was diverse and inclusive of many different people, with many different perspectives and lived experiences,” she said.

Her journey into media began early. While a freshman in high school, Cayla began taking dual-enrollment courses in communications at Broward College. Her first class was with New Media Communication program manager Daniel Shears. After earning her high school diploma in 2020, she began considering next steps. She knew she wanted to move forward in the field of new media, but her path was not yet clear. She learned that four-year universities offer degrees in New Media, but what she really wanted was a program that could pair theoretical knowledge with real-world experience. She decided to explore Broward College’s options.

What she discovered impressed her. Part of Broward College’s School of Arts, Humanities, Communications and Design, the Associate in Science of New Media Communication degree is designed to develop students’ knowledge and skills to navigate the changing communication landscape and acquire the appropriate business acumen for employment as Communication Specialists, New Media Coordinators, Digital Journalists, or entry-level Communication Managers. In other words, the program was exactly what she was looking for. Still, she was reluctant to enroll.

“I was a bit hesitant because I knew it would be new for everyone—not just me as a student, but the staff and professors as well,” she said. “However, I did my research and was really impressed by the variety of courses offered in the New Media program at Broward. It was a blend of both technical and theoretical courses, which I loved and knew would benefit me!”

Navigating a New Program

Being an early adapter of Broward College’s New Media program meant that she would be among the first students to experience the more advanced stages of the program.

“Of course, this came with some hurdles that I had to navigate with the help of Dean Jackson, professor Shears, and my advisor, Nicole Holoboff,” she said. “They were all ready to communicate with me about my advancement through the program and were open to my feedback on how to improve the New Media program for my peers.”

And just as she’d hoped, the program allowed Cayla to merge classroom learning with hands-on experience, providing her with the skills she would need both in her job search and on the job.

“I learned soft skills like how to communicate in the professional world as well as in my personal life,” said Cayla. “I also learned how to design User Interfaces on Adobe XD, develop my own web pages on Adobe Dreamweaver, and produce professional photographs on my own.”

In fact, it was her Introduction to Photoshop class that resonated with her most. “I enjoyed completing the projects as I learned to navigate the platform and make use of all the tools, while still having a little bit of fun and creative freedom,” she said.

As she gets ready to graduate, Cayla looks back on her time in the New Media Communications program as near picture-perfect.

“The program exceeded my expectations in just how much hands on, technical learning I was able to do,” she said. “Although most of my time learning was spent online, I still had access to all the resources I needed to learn and succeed in all my courses.”

She also hopes there will be even more ground to break in the years ahead.

“I’d like to start my own media production and distribution company,” said Cayla. “I would like to have the role as director of the company and take independent artists as well as businesses and corporations in need of media production, management, and distribution under my wing. In the meantime, I’d like to gain more experience in the vast world of multimedia production to start building up my experience!”

As she makes her way through the burgeoning field of new media, she’ll be guided by her passion for inclusivity.

“To me, getting my degree in New Media means that there’s another young, Black woman who understands the history and importance of Mass Media and its impact on our society,” she said. “My degree in New Media Communications has prepared me to use my voice and resources to create more spaces for minorities to be heard in Mass Media.”

To learn how you can earn your degree in New Media Communications, visit the program’s information page on the Broward College website.

Commencement students Associate Degree Community