Pandemic brings three generations to Polk State Digital Media

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Katelin Downing is pursuing an Associate of Science degree in Digital Media Technology at Polk State College, where she now has the company of her aunt and grandmother in their Introductory Digital Media course. Aunt Meesha Downing-Townsend and Grandmother Sheryl Downing were inspired to enroll after the impacts of the pandemic prompted their family’s ministries to switch from in-person church services to online church services.

They are eagerly awaiting their Tuesday afternoon class at the Lakeland campus, where guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are being closely followed according to the plan to return to the Polk State campus. Members of the close-knit Downing family haven’t spent as much time together as before the COVID-19 public health emergency to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

“With the pandemic, I didn’t get to see them as much, so it’s nice to see them every Tuesday,” Katelin Downing said. “Before, I was stuck at home all day. It’s nice to go out and do something that I love: learning digital media.

The Introductory Digital Media course takes place in a hybrid format, which combines online learning with time spent in the classroom. For the first half of the 2021 spring semester, they come to class for in-person lessons before online course transitions.

“Being a student during the pandemic has been great. Polk State is affordable, local and very resourceful. Polk State has provided many resources to help students.

Meesha Downing Townsend
Digital media student
Deputy director

“Being a student of the pandemic has been great,” said Meesha Downing-Townsend, who came to Polk State as a dual-enrollment student in the 1990s and went on to earn a PhD from Nova Southeastern University. . She is Deputy Principal of Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School. “Now is not the time like now, whether you are in the pandemic or outside the pandemic, to go to school. Polk State is affordable, local and very resourceful. Polk State has provided many resources to help students.

Sheryl Downing is a lifelong learner as well.

“There will always be obstacles in life,” added Sheryl Downing. “Take a chance and it will pay off – I guarantee it.”

She holds an MA from Nova Southeastern University and retired after a career of more than 40 years as a claims specialist with State Farm. Now she wants to build websites.

“Since I had some free time, I decided it was the right time for me to take this course. It’s even bigger because I can take it with my daughter and granddaughter. The three of us have different interests in what we get out of this course, so we can all bounce back [ideas] from each other, ”she said. “A good thing about that is that since I’ve had them here, if there’s anything I’m missing, I know they have me and can help me. “

She also has the support of digital media professor Gregory Johnson, program specialists, teaching lab assistants and her peers.

Sheryl Downing’s website building skills will come in handy for family ministries. Her husband and son are pastors who adapt to the changes in childbirth just like college. Instead of large in-person worship gatherings, churches have shifted to remote services that allow individuals to participate from home through a variety of online platforms.

“It has been a learning curve for me to set up our church and my brother’s church on the different platforms. This digital media course will help me deepen my skills, ”said Meesha Townsend-Downing. “We thought it was better for us to get together to gain more knowledge.”

So far, they have enjoyed learning binary code, photography and photographic equipment in the classroom.

“It’s a good environment. I was a little afraid to come back as the pandemic continues, but everyone is following the rules and are safe.

Katelin Downing
Digital media student

“It has been great and I consider myself to be safe in the classroom. We socialize and wear our masks, but I love having my instructor who I can walk around and ask questions, ”said Sheryl Downing.

Her granddaughter echoed that sentiment.

“It’s a good environment. I was a little afraid to come back because the pandemic continues, but everyone is following the rules and are safe, ”said Katelin Downing.

She is one of four grandchildren in her family attending Polk State.

Like her grandmother, Katelin Downing also aspires to someday work in web design.

“Digital media has always fascinated me, and I help my dad with digital media in church,” she said. “I want to keep doing this but get more professional with this.”

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