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Steve M. Tietjen, Ed.D | County Superintendent of Schools


Merced County Office of Education

ROP Student Success Story

Jonathan Craig
Graphic Arts

High school was a time of great uncertainty for me. In addition to the worries about who I was, what group of friends I truly belonged to, and how difficult I felt some of my classes were, I also felt the pressure of my upcoming high school graduation and the big decisions I needed to make about my life afterward. I was full of doubt about my future and had no real direction. That is, until I stumbled into my very first Career & Technical Education class offered by Merced County ROP.

As a high school junior, walking into my first ROP Graphic Arts class, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I had an interest in computers at the time, but I didn't know what kind of work I would be doing and what kind of skills I would be learning. I had no way of knowing that the education I received from my graphic arts class would lay the foundation for the career in television that I am currently blessed with. 

I spent my final two years of high school taking ROP Graphic Arts classes, and it was there that I had the opportunity to work with a video camera for the first time. I loved it! I would often find myself staying after school to work on my projects, both for class and extra-curricular. I had the opportunity to design logos and flyers for various organizations around Merced County, and also had the opportunity to create educational and promotional videos for various departments of the Merced County Office of Education. Though I got hands-on experience with a wide variety of projects, the single most important thing I learned from my time with Merced County ROP was to believe in myself and my own abilities. My instructors gave me wonderful lessons and opportunities and helped me gain the confidence I needed to pursue my interest in graphic arts and video production after high school.

With the help of my ROP Graphic Arts teachers, I decided to study Television Production at San Francisco State University. Though it was challenging, at times, to figure out how to finance my education and I sometimes felt fearful about following what some call an unrealistic dream, I truly believed I could reach it if I worked hard enough, and my confidence was boosted each step of the way. It turned out that the education I had received in graphic arts and video production through Merced County ROP had put me ahead of my peers, and I often found myself tutoring other students in the fundamentals of production, editing, and design. Because I had worked on such a wide variety of projects in high school, I was less fearful about trying new things and putting myself and my skills out there for others to see. This confidence lent itself well to some of the opportunities I had in college to shoot concerts and events around San Francisco. My professors would often recommend me for freelance jobs that I could do after school or on weekends, and these gigs helped pay some of my bills and strengthen my resume. Perhaps the best job I held in college was an associate producer position for the KBCW (Bay Area CW affiliate) promotions department. I worked for the station for a semester as an intern before being offered the position, and held it proudly for a semester before graduating.

I spent the first few weeks after college back in Merced, touching base and catching up with my ROP Graphic Arts instructors (who I still speak with regularly and visit each time I come home). At that time, I decided to make finding a full time job my full time job. I'd wake up every day and put in a full eight hours, writing cover letters and sending out resumes to anyone who would accept them. It wasn't long before I was offered a temporary position as an assistant in Los Angeles, and the rest is history. I've been living and working in Los Angeles for more than four years now and, recently, have been given the opportunity to produce shows like Top Chef for BRAVO, Lockup for MSNBC, American Dream Builders for NBC, and Snack-Off for MTV. I've worked with a number of truly talented, hard-working people, from producers to camera operators, sound mixers to celebrities, and couldn't be happier with my decision to pursue this dream.

Despite some of the more recent, more surreal experiences my career in video production has offered me, the memories I have and the friends I made in ROP Graphic Arts are the ones that I cherish the most. Regardless of where this journey takes me, I'm both grateful and proud to say that it all started with classes in Career & Technical Education. I hope that my words can encourage any students currently enrolled or thinking about enrolling in ROP classes to do it -- sign up, work hard, and learn as much as you can! You never know where your education will take you.

For more information and a list of my work, please visit

Written by Jonathan Craig



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