The story of alumna Karen Cooper ’06 is an encouraging one for anyone nervously eyeing their professional outlook, as many students are these days. She’s an inspiring example of what you can do with a combination of determination, creativity, and a liberal arts degree. Now a successful filmmaker and entrepreneur, Karen has spent the last 15 years navigating the ups and downs of life in pursuit of a rewarding career that spans industries, cultures, and languages.

She is also clear about how FUS has been a huge influence. “My Franklin experience made me more self-reliant, capable, and confident, all things you need to navigate the many unexpected challenges that come with a well-lived life, especially as a freelancer. I’m at a place now where I look back and I'm so happy with how things turned out; I wouldn’t change anything.”

After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a double major—International communications, and combined French and Literature— Karen first got a job as an English copywriter and PR assistant at a public relations agency in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. While in Neuchâtel, she joined the Lampad-r art collective and met a filmmaker named Kevin Rumley. He was having difficulty funding his projects so she decided to apply her marketing skills to help. Over the next years, Karen’s jobs in the field of marketing took her on to Vevey and eventually to New York City, where she worked at a fast-paced, corporate publishing firm. But, her interest in filmmaking never faded from the picture and neither did her side-projects with Rumley. In 2015, she left New York to become a digital nomad and full-time freelancer.

That decision has not only been profitable for Karen, it has also allowed her to spend more time filmmaking. Her first feature length work is a French language documentary called AlternaSuisse (No Alternative). The film, which she is co-directing and producing with Rumley, had its global premiere at the 2019 Montreux Jazz Festival. It’s an intriguing look into the underground community of art collectives scattered around Switzerland and their struggle to survive.

“There is a big fat question mark over where this goes next, but most of all I want this film to be seen, especially by those in the underground art scene, and by the Swiss. I want [the Swiss people] to know what’s in their own back yard.”

Franklin is proud to welcome our alumna back in celebration of University Day 2020: #FranklinWeStand, which will focus on the role of the arts in our communities, both real and virtual. No Alternative will be shown and a discussion with Karen Cooper and Kevin Rumley will follow. The event will be virtual and is open to all FUS community members.

For the full story of Karen Cooper’s journey to success, See the Alumni Series by Samuel Miller.