‘A Fire Within That Needed More Fuel’: How a Former Online Student’s Journey Came Full Circle in the Digital Sphere


Multimedia artist Vlad Radu, 23, is an Associate Producer and Junior Editor at MOD, a human-experience and advertising agency based in Philadelphia, Pa. He recounts his experience as a 2015 graduate of Laurel Springs School (LSS), a leader in online K-12 education, where his love—and talent—for film and digital media began to flare. 

Graduating magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in May 2020, Vlad Radu received a degree in cinema and media studies with minors in theatre arts and fine arts with a concentration in photography. While much of the Class of 2020 has had to find creative ways to launch their careers during the pandemic, Radu, an innovator and artist since childhood, landed his current position in media production after years of building his extensive portfolio. Early exploration of his own creativity led to the evolution of his art from that of a student to a professional—making his mark every step of the way. 

Vlad Radu headshot“When I was a little kid I was always with a pencil in hand, scribbling on every surface I could find...However, my interests took a different turn when I was in high school. Laurel Springs offered a photoshop course that opened my eyes to the unlimited potential of technology in the creative process,” he shares. Radu’s insatiable creativity went from 0 to 60—or 72 dpi as a digital designer—when he started taking his own photos for school assignments and personal projects and honing his photography and editing skills through YouTube tutorials. From there, he went on to win awards for his photography in online contests and was featured on the front pages of well known photo-sharing sites 500px and Flickr. 

Radu also found further support and inspiration from joining Laurel Springs’ Film and Theatre Club, led by professional stuntman, writer, director, and Laurel Springs parent Joe Skorpen at the time. “Under his mentorship I voraciously accumulated knowledge about the film industry and started making my own short films.” After accumulating a variety of his own creations, Radu used the work and craft he continually refined to take the next step in his academic and professional careers. 

He was accepted into UPenn and secured a job as Director of Photography for advertising startup Nexo Productions as a college freshman. He directed, filmed, and edited spots for the university’s renowned Perelman School of Medicine and Wharton School of Business and companies like Curaleaf and PDC Machines. Radu even filmed a lifestyle video with rapper Waka Flocka Flame. His industry portfolio and influence grew as he became Nexo’s Project Director and then Associate Creative Director.

Radu amassed more credits to his name than most of his undergraduate peers, including those who already graduated. “In four years of college I had more experience and a stronger portfolio than most people have four years after graduating college.” His indisputable creative drive and distinction led him to MOD where he works with global brands like CVS, Aetna, and Comcast and its subsidiary NBC Universal. His past experiences helped afford him a bright and certain future despite graduating into a world where college students’ confidence is waning in a pandemic-stricken academic climate and job market.

Radu’s innate perseverance and passion paved the way for his success, but he recognizes and appreciates all of the support and opportunities he has had along the way, starting at Laurel Springs School. “[I] still rely on a lot of the foundational skills I developed at LSS, such as time-management, self-perseverance, and self-determination,” he explains. “In fact, looking back, none of this would have ever happened or been possible were it not for the excellent tutelage of Mrs. Maybaum and my first photoshop class at LSS, or the amazing guidance and mentorship of Joe Skorpen. LSS provided me with opportunities that I never would have had otherwise!”

Laurel Springs School’s approach is centered on self-discovery, academic rigor, and personal growth. The flexibility and customization of our online private education begins as soon as students enroll, and the enrichment and knowledge they acquire extends beyond their Laurel Springs experience. Alumni like Radu have the opportunity to connect with former classmates and recent graduates through LSS Alumni Connect, an exclusive digital alumni network where Laurel Springs graduates can expand their networks and communities.

Having already shared his production career experience with Upper School students in the school’s first Career Showcase this spring, Radu is excited to continue the conversation on LSS Alumni Connect. “I use the LSS Alumni Connect platform as a tool to build and expand my network of professional acquaintances, and even to get in touch with old friends!”

With his unstoppable creativity and curiosity starting in childhood, Radu’s art and accomplishments have been essential in his prolific journey and vision. Working with industry-defining brands and leaders, including Disney+ and Xfinity most recently, this Laurel Springs alumnus is no stranger to making his mark at every twist and turn. From a student behind a screen to a professional behind the scenes, Vlad Radu’s inventiveness and experiences are a testament to the power of an unwavering spirit and a mastery-based, college-preparatory education