Preparing students for the future: A couple’s journey to the City of Angels

De Silva and Vaughn in Israel during the filming of "Your Kingdom Come"

Growing up as a child of missionaries, Mariana Da Silva is no stranger to the adventure of a move.

Born in Brazil, Da Silva spent most of her childhood living throughout South Africa, then Canada and now Nashville. Da Silva’s next adventure is to the film capital of the country, Los Angeles.

This time around, she’s making the move with her soon-to-be husband, recent Trevecca graduate Adam Vaughn (’18).

“Moving away to a new place is scary, but I’m looking forward to the city itself because this is where the film industry is,” Da Silva said.

Creating a bond through film

Da Silva, who graduated from Trevecca on May 4, was undecided about what major to pursue when she arrived on campus. But soon her passion for art and film led to Da Silva pursuing a degree in media arts with a focus on TV and film.

Vaughn, also studying media arts, had a passion for audio production, taking every class Trevecca provided in audio production technology.

Meeting through classes in the film department, the two initially weren't very close. But after working together on theatre productions and short films, they forged a new friendship.

Thrown together on several projects—including filming the documentary Your Kingdom Come in Israel, one of Trevecca’s faculty-led academic research experience (FLARE) projecst—Da Silva and Vaughn grew closer, their relationship blossoming alongside their craft of filmmaking.

“The Israel trip was huge in preparing us for being on set, being in stressful conditions and working on a deadline,” the couple recalled.

Following Da Silva’s graduation earlier this month, the couple traveled to Connecticut where they’ll get married and begin their lives as husband and wife. They’ll follow that with another big change: moving to Los Angeles to pursue careers in the film industry.

Da Silva and classmates on the Friends set in Los Angeles

Making dreams a reality

Da Silva and Vaughn know that Hollywood is home to many who hope to succeed in the film industry, but they feel prepared for the future, no matter what it holds—something the couple attributes to Trevecca’s media arts program.

“The media arts program has prepared me for LA because every class I was in, I worked on at least three films and added to my demo reel,” Da Silva said. “We cover so many aspects of the industry, which made me a more well-rounded person and filmmaker.”

Professor Seth Conley, who heads up the media arts program says Da Silva and Vaughn have honed the skills they’ll need to excel in the field.

“Mariana has been a leader in our program since her freshman year as well as Adam,” Conley said. “Both of them have dedicated themselves to the work they've done here, which is why I'm confident in whatever they decide to do.”

Living in LA won’t be entirely new for Vaughn, who participated in Trevecca’s semester abroad program his senior year, studying at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. Vaughn says the media arts program at Trevecca prepared him to succeed.

“I went to LA with 50 students from other schools,” Vaughn recalled. “I felt like there were three schools that sent students that were noticeably more prepared in the craft, and I was one of those three that had more of a grasp of how movie-making works.”

When Conley took over the media arts program four years ago, his goal was clear—get students ready for all levels of the industry. It’s something he feels he’s achieved with Da Silva and Vaughn.

“Their level of commitment to the craft of learning film at Trevecca shows that they have what it takes to work in the challenging world of film and video,” Conley said.

Conley is focused on providing coursework and experiences that challenge and prepare students for the future. His students learn their craft of film industry-standard equipment and have opportunities to participate in international travel as well as an industry tour in LA where students visit film and TV sets.

“We want to open our students’ eyes and allow them the option to follow their passions wherever it leads them—whether that be in LA or in the Nashville area,” Conley said.

Learn more about Trevecca’s media arts and studies program.

By Blake Stewart, ’18
Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695