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University of Tampa senior ready to chase film dreams

Abby Byrne got to do a life-changing internship with a former UT alum during the COVID pandemic. It set her up for a career in film.

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s unlikely the temperature will reach 20 degrees near Abby Byrne’s hometown on Monday. The University of Tampa senior is enjoying mid-70s in Tampa with just a few weeks to go until graduation.

“It all just kind of made sense,” said Byrne, the UT student government president. “I feel like I ended up fitting in pretty well right off the bat.”

Tampa was a strategic choice for Byrne, who left frozen Naperville, Illinois behind four years ago for an education in sunny Florida after hearing about the acclaimed film program at UT. The move opened multiple doors for the aspiring film producer.

The biggest door came courtesy of a former Spartan, Doug Tower.

“He’s definitely been able to kind of help me with my professionalism as well as just get a taste for what the actual industry is like,” said Byrne, who is graduating in May 2021. “I think during this time of COVID, it is really challenging to have opportunities so once I had this opportunity presented, I was like obviously I’m going to jump at it.”

The highlight of 2020 for Byrne was the time she spent with Tower. She traveled to Nevada and Colorado with Tower’s company and even worked on projects for HGTV, FOX, and Discovery.

“I got to work on a bunch of different projects, actually,” she said.

The entire experience has jumpstarted a career after school. Byrne has been offered a position with Towers post-graduation.

Byrne created a film called XOXO, Savannah for her senior thesis. It follows the journey of a young woman “with body issues” dedicated to building her YouTube channel following to the detriment of her personal life. She finally realizes that all the time and effort she poured into her social account should not have been her highest priority.

“It’s kind of like a film about coming back to yourself,” said Byrne. 

Tampa turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I think without UT I definitely would not have been able to grow and learn the fundamental skills and learn kind of the basics of the industry so I definitely appreciate them preparing me and getting me ready for the real world,” she said. “Tampa will always have a special place in my heart.”

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