From Student to Award Winner to CSU Coordinator

Ryan Strelow is currently the Centennial Student Union's Technical Coordinator, a role he has had since February 2016. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Design and Technology from Minnesota State University, Mankato in December 2015. During his coursework, Ryan began designing lighting for dance concerts. It was through the Spring 2015 Dance Concert that Ryan began his path to receiving national recognition for his design.

During the 2015 North-Central Regional Conference in Stevens Point, Wis., Minnesota State Mankato was one of three schools in the region selected by the American College Dance Association to be featured at the National Dance Conference at the Kennedy Center. The production entitled Television (choreographed by Minnesota State Mankato Theater and Dance Faculty Daniel Stark, with lighting design by Ryan) was held this June. Ryan's lighting design, entitled Television: Or (And Now Our National Anthem) received the Kennedy Center award for lighting design.

With all that Ryan accomplished as a student at Minnesota State Mankato, he takes great pride in what is on the horizon for his work with the CSU. As a former student employee for the CSU, he knows first-hand how much work goes into each event; making the transition to supervisor has been challenging but rewarding.

Ryan approached his new supervisory duties by first having great conversations with the individuals who were once his co-workers and peers in the CSU. Treating each other as professionals with respect and leading by example has made the transition smoother for Ryan. He currently supervises 18 undergraduate student employees and also one graduate assistant.

Having a flexible and expansive staff allows the CSU to complete the technology needs for all the various activities and events held on a regular basis. Ryan's team handles all the technology for the events, which includes meeting with the clients prior to the event to make sure they have all their needs met. For major events, such as the Homecoming Concert, planning begins a year in advance and it's all hands in to create an experience for the audience and performers the day of. The planning and execution of events is endless. Each event needs something different than the previous; this keeps Ryan on his toes to help come up with new, inventive ideas and solutions to create a lasting impression at the event.

While Ryan may lead the charge, he cannot do it alone. The talented staff comes from all types of majors at the University. There are students who have tremendous talent in technology and lighting but may be working toward an accounting degree. No matter the students' chosen major, on event nights the focus is on technology. There have been some students who, after working in technology with the CSU, have recognized that they excel and enjoy the work and have changed their major to reflect their passion. Ryan encourages the student employees by telling them to "do what you like." Ryan says, "Just because you have your degree, education doesn't have to end." It is a philosophy that he keeps with him as he determines his next step in education to potentially obtain a master's degree.

Big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.