We've never met in person, but I love my cohort! We have WeChat groups and WhatsApp groups and talk to each other almost daily. Every week we have homework--sometimes as many as three assignments that are due. And each assignment has numerous parts and sometimes includes collaboration between us. So, this program takes coordination and dedication and a fair amount of lonely nights editing videos and writing blogposts. That's the other thing: and maybe my most favorite part . . . All of our assignments are submitted using the newest programs, apps, or technology. We can turn assignments via Snapchat feed or Instagram stories or by making videos or writing blogs. It's super cool.
I remember in high school, when everyone was applying to schools, that I was hellbent on attending Texas Tech in Lubbock. I heard that they had an incredible design department. My hope (at the time) was to be an interior designer. I took drafting classes--and was the only female doing so--all throughout high school. So, it seemed like the perfect fit. I had only ever driven through Lubbock, and never actually made it to visit the school.
I don't remember my parents taking me around to look at schools much. I think it was just hard to organize with my dad living in New Jersey and my mom being a full-time teacher in Plano, Texas. But I do remember my dad taking me on a road trip to visit Stephen F. Austin State University. It was small and in the woods. Seemed nice, but not for me. He also took me to visit a school in New Jersey. I went down to visit Texas A *and* M with friends, and liked it very much. But it still didn't seem like the right fit. If I had it all to do over again, I would've taken 5 years between high school and college to make this kind of decision . . . But in the early 90's the idea of taking a gap year (or years) was not an acceptable thing to do.
As it was, I ended up at Collin County Community College in Plano. At the time, we called Quad C. I did not like that I had to live at home, and work full-time and try to keep up with my classes. But it was the first place that I fell in love with art and the arts community, and for that I will forever be grateful. Still to this day, I think of my photography teacher at Quad C: Byrd Williams. He was so passionate about taking pictures and really taught me how to see things.
From Collin County Community College, I transferred into The University of Texas at Austin. (Finally, I had found my people! My tribe!) By the grace of God, I was accepted to The University of Texas at Austin and never really looked back. I declared my major as ART and straddled a full-time load of classes between UT Austin and Austin Community College. This was around 1995. I have Liza Donatelli (my roommate at the time), Shane Sullivan (my academic advisor), and Susan Clagett (my parent's college buddy and the Vice President of Administration and Public Affairs at UT) to thank for their support in my application to and success during those first several years at UT.
About 4 years into my degree at UT, I got very excited and impatient about being out in the world. I was going to be an artist, after all. Once I left school, white-walled galleries would open up their spaces to me and I would show my work and receive the creative acclaim that I desired. (It doesn't really work this way, folks.) But, my impatience got the best of me.