The Many Paths Forward with Audio Arts and Acoustics: Alum Jackie Loupakos ’19 on Life After Columbia
Before she even hit double-digits, Jackie Loupakos ’19 knew that a life in sound was for her. By the age of ten she was passionate about guitar and piano and starting to write her own music. “I started my journey in my bedroom with my laptop and one microphone.” Loupakos remembers. “I wanted to craft my own sound and make my own world within my music. I was fascinated by the intricacies of audio, curious, and working to understand it.”
By the time she was ready to start looking at colleges, Loupakos knew that she wanted to go to a school with students and faculty as dedicated to their careers as she was to hers. Columbia fit the bill. “When I first visited,” Loupakos says, “I witnessed the students’ passion for their careers and I knew it was a vibrant art community where I felt right at home.” Even better—faculty were deeply enmeshed in their work, something that Loupakos calls “another aspect I loved about Columbia.”
Loupakos’ time at Columbia was marked by powerful mentorship and unique opportunities for career advancement. In a male-dominated field, Loupakos found women to look up to at Columbia in established audio experts Assistant Professor Visda Goudarzi and Instructor Kathy Dunaj, both of whom Loupakos describes as “wonderful mentors.” Loupakos also identifies Scott Lee as an instructor whose class “opened my eyes to the world of audio and made me see how truly remarkable an art audio is.” When she wasn’t in class at Columbia, Loupakos was working at internships to further advance her career. “I completed four internships during my time at Columbia that involved music recording, audio post-production, and live sound environments…I was able to make strong industry connections and apply the skills I learned to my daily work.” The takeaway? “[They] taught me how important accountability, reliability, and adaptability is to this industry.”
As her skills and experiences evolved, Loupakos became interested in working in sound for film. After taking Audio for Visual Media I with Michael Coyle, Loupakos knew that she wanted to explore sound design and recording for film. “My favorite project that I’ve worked on in film so far has to be “Juice Box Jig.” All of the sound effects in the film are original sounds effects that were recorded by me,” Loupakos says. Creating sound for film also had another advantage—introducing Loupakos to the world of audio-visual work.
“In addition to my creative aesthetic skills of my education, I also wanted to use more of the troubleshooting and problem-solving skills that my degree offered. What drew me to AV was the ability to make a vision a reality whether it is an event or a company meeting,” Loupakos says. Wanting to follow through on this interest, she earned her Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification. “Being a CTS holder has definitely given me the opportunity to grow within the position that I hold now by using the knowledge in my everyday work and being able to assist with various AV projects with ease,” she says.
Today, Loupakos is a Senior Associate Technician at DXC Technology, on that path to transition to an audio-visual management position. She also continues to have an interest in working in sound for film and in writing music, both things she calls “a huge part of my creative identity.” As for future students interested in following in her footsteps, Loupakos has some suggestions: “Be open to new experiences, diversify your skill set, build your network, and constantly put yourself in situations where you are challenged. This will allow for many opportunities for growth.”