California College of ASU grad chooses to move into a new future with cinema degree

ASU student Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie smiles off-camera sitting in front of a bookshelf

Retired teacher Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie is graduating this spring with her Associate of Fine Arts in cinema from California College of ASU in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Sabi Madady/ASU

By Jo Winebrenner

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

Spinal surgery presented retired teacher Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie with a choice.

The surgery “left me with four screws, a plastic cage, two wires, 16 leads, a battery on my spine — and enough pain to share with others,” said Mitchell-Valrie. “I had a choice to either wallow in this chronic discomfort, or get up and make a difference for those to follow.”

She chose the latter and is graduating this spring with her Associate of Fine Arts in cinema from California College of ASU in downtown Los Angeles.

She was inspired by her two sons, who work in fine arts.

“However, their conversations soared beyond my understanding,” said Mitchell-Valrie, who was raised in Chicago and lives in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t assist them. So, I thought, since I truly enjoy movies, why not turn this curiosity into a passion?

“As a result, now, we teach and support one another. Besides, it’s important to bridge gaps wherever the opportunity presents itself.”  

Three people speak while standing at a hightop table with a laptop open
(From left) Greg Rosete, senior admissions counselor at California College of ASU, Associate of Fine Arts spring graduate Shirley A. Mitchell-Valrie and Desmond Lovell, CFO of California College of ASU, gather for a discussion in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Sabi Madady/ASU

At California College of ASU, Mitchell-Valrie had a number of positive experiences with faculty, who she said went above and beyond. She praised the work of staff as well.

“What would we do without the staff, though, including the tech department?” she said. “They are remarkable, patient, knowledgeable, caring, flexible and available to guide students. I would have been lost without college staff.”

Her focus after graduation is on screenwriting, making connections, research, production and “getting those headshots.” She begins that next step with great memories of her time at ASU.

“The opportunity to gain hands-on experience, credit and some acting skills was fascinating,” Mitchell-Valrie said. “I leave this college with a sense of confidence that I did not have upon entering.”

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