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Dreaming in full color

While growing up on the family farm in Kilkenny, Ireland, Nigel Tierney was fascinated by animation and visual effects. "I always told family and friends that my first real job would be working on a Shrek sequel," says Tierney with a laugh. Amazingly, that's exactly what happened.

Tierney landed a job with DreamWorks in 2008 and moved to sunny California.  A technical director, Tierney's first project was Shrek Forever After. "It's been amazing working with a group of artists to complete a project," he says. "I work for the surfacing department, where I manage and maintain the department by developing software and providing support for the artists."

Tierney first traveled to the United States in his late teens to take a job working at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. "I was an actor/store keeper at the Leprechaun shop and I was immediately taken with the area," he says. "When my time was done at the park, I went back home and came up with a plan to pursue my education in the States."

Tierney joined the ranks of TCC's student body on the Norfolk Campus in 2003. He studied computer science, with the goal of working in computer visualization. "I jumped right into college life, taking on leadership roles in the Student Government Association and on the debate team,” he notes.  A member of Phi Theta Kappa, Tierney was nominated for the All-USA Team and earned scholarships to pursue further education at Old Dominion University.

"Right away I saw the possibilities. With determination and a lot of hard work, I earned my associate degree and later my bachelor's and master's in computer science," he adds. "TCC gave me a great foundation and even offered work when I was a starving student." During his time with the college, Tierney worked in the mail room and as a tutor.

Tierney will have a new movie added to his credits in the near future. With the Hollywood team, he’s working on The Croods, starring Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone.

"I love what I do. Although life has taken me far from home, the opportunities have made it worthwhile."