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ashton dyrk
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Q&A with Adjunct Professor Dyrk Ashton

Tell us about your position at Tiffin University?
I’ve been building and teaching film studies courses for the master of humanities online program since summer 2010. I also created and instruct a screenwriting course. I generally teach two of these courses per semester, but have taught the Aesthetics and Into to Humanities courses and on occasion, the HUM 680 and 681 capstone courses.

What is your background in your field?
Other than my education, I worked in commercial and industrial film in Columbus, Ohio after college, working my way up from production assistant to production manager and producer. While there, I also produced fictional short and feature length films and a spec pilot for TV. I then lived and worked in Los Angeles for six years, a jack-of-all-trades of sorts, from set construction to location sound, assistant editing and producing, while also writing and pitching screenplays. Mostly, however, I made my living as a SAG/AFTRA actor, appearing in commercials, music videos and feature films. My largest part was a co-starring role in Sony Pictures’ Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, filmed over two months in Sri Lanka in 1996. I appear in Men in Black for about 4 seconds, and was the Truck Zombie in the remake of Night of the Living Dead, 1990. Such claims to fame 🙂

Why are you passionate about your field?
I love film, obviously, and thoroughly enjoy working with students.

What advice would you give a person who is thinking about going back to school to pursue their degree?
It’s never too late. I was 39 when I went back to school for my PhD.

Any personal information you’d like to share? (i.e., family, hobbies, pets, hidden talents.)
Recently (relatively for me), I’ve begun fulfilling a lifelong dream to write fantasy novels, and have been spending much of my “free” time working on The Paternus Trilogy, a series of urban fantasy books deriving from mythologies from around the world (I’m a big myth geek). The first book “Paternus: Rise of Gods,” was released in May of 2016, and the second, “Paternus: Wrath of Gods” came out in July of this year. I’ve been absolutely amazed by the reception. Just last week, I learned my second book had won Best Self-Published Novel in the Booknest Fantasy Awards 2018. That was a huge surprise, though a very nice one.

What are some of the reasons that you teach online?
I find I can get the same enjoyment out of teaching without the long hours and service commitments and severe publishing requirements I experienced when working full time tenure-track.

What is one thing that you have noticed that has changed for good in online education?
The quality of students in online programs has increased significantly over the last eight years, to the point where our students stack up to any in a traditional master’s program. The best thing I’ve seen, however, is the rapid change from online degrees being seen as somehow “lesser than,” to the point where they have become just as respected as other degrees.

What are some effective practices you have noticed from students that are currently facing a lack of time to study due to having a family or working a full time job?
Number one, starting early in the week and working ahead whenever possible. I can’t stress that enough.