April 20, 2016
CAM medium
The CAM Ambassadors at the SXSW tradeshow booth.

The College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Denver made its mark at South by Southwest (SXSW), a world-renowned creative arts conference, held in Austin, Texas, in March.

Six students enrolled in various CAM programs attended SXSW 2016 as CAM Ambassadors, representing both CAM and CU Denver at an exhibit booth and networking events, as well as promoting the Lynx Summer Camp. About 20,000 people attended the weeklong event.

“It’s the largest conference of its type in the U.S. You have major segments of the entertainment industry and digital technology all in one place,” said Stan Soocher, associate professor of Music & Entertainment Industry Studies.

The students made the trip thanks to a generous donation by Dierdre Wilson, a member of the CAM Dean’s Advisory Council, which is a group of CAM alumni and community leaders who are enmeshed in the local art scene. Wilson’s donation allowed a pair of CU Denver students to explore each SXSW category – music, film and interactive – and then share what they learned with their respective departments.

Fine Arts major Nico van Poollen, said SXSW was a great opportunity to take what he has learned over the last four years and discuss it with a wide range of industry professionals. During the conference, van Poollen met everyone “from students to Disney Imagineers to CEOs who were running large companies and wanted to meet students and young minds,” he said.

As a designer, van Poollen relished a chance to discuss color choice with representatives from Pantone, a leader in graphic arts and color-critical industries. Comcast gave van Poollen and other CU Denver students access to the company’s Social Media Lounge where they enjoyed additional networking opportunities.

CAM Ambassadors

The CAM Ambassadors concept began with the SXSW trip but has already been adopted by two other CAM-related student trips: Art Dubai and the Emerging Creatives Student Summit, the latter being held at the University of Michigan.

“There are so many opportunities at this school to make your major and your experience whatever it is you want it to be,” said Elysia Smith, a senior. “I was able to come into this program as an audition-track student for voice but my actual major is music business and recording arts.”



SXSW started in 1987 as a music event where new and upcoming talent could be discovered. In 1994, as the Internet was revolutionizing the digital world, the conference expanded to include film and interactive symposiums. This has had a diversifying effect, creating opportunities for attendees, including college students, to expand their knowledge about the music business, user interface, performing arts and videography.

Being at SXSW gave our students an immersive experience and put CAM, as well as CU Denver, on a high-profile stage, Soocher said. Only a couple other universities were represented in the tradeshow area.

“For us to have an exhibit there, it really helps us in a national and international branding way,” Soocher said.

The CAM Ambassadors posted a blog where you can read all about their trip, along with other trips the Ambassadors have taken. Read more about their adventures here.

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