Andrew Kyed, a Weber State University senior studying digital media, dreams of one day using the skills he’s learning to create a documentary about his grandmother, Sumiko, and other Japanese Americans who were detained during World War II.
Following the Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor, wartime paranoia painted citizens of Japanese ancestry, including those born in the United States, as possible traitors. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order resulting in the incarceration of West Coast Japanese residents in relocation camps without due process.
“She was born and raised in Oakland,” Kyed said about his grandmother. “She must have been in her mid 20s, so she was pretty much in the best years of her life, and it was all taken away.”
Before making his film, however, Kyed plans to learn all he can at Weber State. Close to Sumiko’s age during the war, he uses his education to craft stories and help others.
Kyed chose Weber State after learning his mother took night classes to earn her degree in finance. He first majored in computer science, but switched to digital media after realizing his passion for content creation while staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, he’s the executive content manager for Studio 76, a fully operational video production studio at WSU that produces film, short media and live events. He helps other students learn about production, manages equipment and ensures the quality of the work the studio produces.
Studio 76 also gives him the opportunity to conceptualize, write scripts, produce and direct.
He recently used his skills as the unit production manager for a student film called DNA Test, a drama about a student preparing for a biology test while caring for younger siblings.
Kyed is also in an Honors Program podcasting class, which has taught him how to approach deep topics like boundaries associated with mental health, disabilities and athletics.
Outside of media, Kyed works one-on-one with other students in the Peer Mentor Program, where he helps other students explore majors, or just find a resource on campus. He recently met with a student who had lost interest in their major and helped them find their passion.
“If you’re passionate about something, you’ll want to do it the best you can,” Kyed said.
He’s thankful for the many WSU staff and faculty members who have helped guide him as he discovers his passions at Weber, including Andrea Baltazar, Studio 76 faculty advisor; Olga Antonio and Andrea Salcedo, who lead the Peer Mentor Program; and his digital media professor Aaron Atkins, who has taught him skills like interviewing and reporting.
Kyed, who is earning a Japanese minor, has visited the site of Topaz War Relocation Center, where Sumiko was detained. Now little more than desert, it’s a solemn reminder of what was lost.
It’s a topic he’s passionate about, and plans to talk about more.