Jason Le ’23
Four years ago, Jason Le ’23 might not have believed it if you told him that he would one day attend film school. As a first-year student, Le intended to major in biology on a pre-med track. But after taking Introduction to Film with Professor of Cinema and Media Studies Scott MacDonald, Le realized that his real passion was elsewhere. “That’s when I completely jumped ship from bio and went all in on film,” he recalled. 

And Le has hardly looked back since. He dove into courses and research projects that aligned with and furthered this interest. Now about to graduate, Le soon will be entering a master’s program at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. At USC, he will explore cinema from a scholarly perspective, rather than from a production standpoint. “My main goal is definitely to teach,” Le explained, mentioning that he plans to eventually earn his Ph.D. in film studies. 

Jason Le ’23

Majors: Cinema and media studies; Psychology
Hometown: Katy, Texas
High school:  Morton Ranch High School

At Hamilton, Le is a double major, splitting his time between cinema/media studies and psychology. Psych came later, he said, once he realized that “if you’re going to come here, and you can double major, you might as well do it.”  And Le has found numerous opportunities to synthesize his two concentrations. A few summers ago, he worked on a Levitt project that involved analyzing movies and conducting social science research. Another summer, he produced a documentary about himself and his experience at Hamilton as an Asian-American. 

Through his coursework, and especially his classes with MacDonald and Associate Professor of Japanese Kyoko Omori, Le realized that his greatest interests were in documentary cinema and Asian-American film. It is these subjects that he plans to continue studying at USC, where he is eager to embrace the many opportunities provided by a prominent film school in the preeminent film city.

“If you’re going to come here, and you can double major, you might as well do it.”

“Even on the Ph.D. track, there are opportunities to engage in production,” he said. “I am very excited about all that they offer … there’s going to be a new film course taught by the cinematographer of all the Wes Anderson movies.”

Student/Faculty Research

Hamilton offers its students outstanding opportunities to conduct research in all disciplines. More than 100 students receive grants each summer.

Over the last few years, Le has formed meaningful connections with a few professors who have, in turn, advised him on his future plans. Among those he mentioned were Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Pavitra Sundar and Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures Zhuoyi Wang, both of whom “have been very supportive of me and my pursuit of film,” Le said. Associate Professor of Psychology Tara McKee “convinced me to follow my heart” and commit to the program at USC.

While Le became closest with Omori and MacDonald, he nonetheless emphasized that all of his professors contributed to his education. “I’ve never had a professor I disliked — I liked all of them, genuinely,” Le said. “Having meaningful conversations with them made the Hamilton experience much better for me.”

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