For more than 130 years, tens of thousands of alumni have graduated from Woodbury University, becoming trailblazers throughout Los Angeles, California, and the nation. Here are a selection of profiles of some recent alumni.
Three quarters of our graduates have resided in Southern California, but Woodbury alumni can be found in all 50 states and in 49 countries. Notable alumni have built businesses both large and small, led magazines, established accounting firms, become noted fashion designers for film and television, won design competitions, held public office, led non-profit organizations, and much, much more.
Andrew Arcilla (BFA Animation 2019) has been working at DreamWorks Animation as a TV Production Assistant since graduation. He writes, “I really love my team and the collaborative environment that lives throughout the studio….It’s been humbling and exciting to be a part of not only the studio, but the animation community as a whole – some of which contains a lot of other Woodbury Alumni from various graduating years.” Arcilla’s senior thesis film, made in collaboration with Hannah Garcia, Taylor the Latte Boy: The Animated Musical Spectacular, has received awards for “Best Animation” at the Top Shorts Film Festival and “1st Quarter Honorable Mention for Best Short Animation” at the Queen Palm Film Festival.
Alumnus Germane Barnes received a Master of Architecture from Woodbury in 2010 and was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories. Barnes’ research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity, examining architecture’s social and political agency through historical research and design speculation. Learning from historical data and perspectives from within architecture as well as cultural and ethnic studies, he examines how the built environment influences the social and cultural experience. Currently he is the designer in residence for the Opa Locka Community Development Corporation and a lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Miami.
Since graduation, Hannah Garcia (BFA Animation 2019) has been working as a production assistant at Cartoon Network. Her senior thesis film, Taylor the Latte Boy: The Animated Musical Spectacular, made in collaboration with Andrew Arcilla, has been selected for the following film festivals: Shenandoah Seasonal Film Series, Queen Palm International Film Festival: Honorable Mention, Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival: Semi-Finalist, and Top Shorts: Best Animation Award.
Laura Gutierrez was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. At the age of 18, she got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, California. Everything changed for her, it wasn’t an easy journey, mainly due to her lack of English knowledge and being so far from her family and friends, but this wasn’t an impediment for her to follow her dreams. Since an early age, Laura found a passion for fashion and writing. From the age of 15, she began collecting her favorite magazine, Vogue, and since that day there is not an issue she hasn’t read. Since the day she moved to L.A., she knew that she had to learn English in order for her to be able to write, read, learn and communicate to others about her passion.
Three years later, Laura began her journey at Woodbury University majoring in Communication and minoring in Fashion Marketing. She was able to learn about her two passions. Laura graduated in December of 2018, and today she is working as the Digital Marketing Manager at a clothing brand based in L.A. For her, this is just the beginning of her career. She wants to nourish her knowledge in Fashion and she is planning to get a Master’s in Fashion Marketing & Communication next year in Spain.
Woodbury University alumna Christine Lara graduated from the Bachelor of Architecture program (BArch) in 2003. She currently works as the director of infrastructure at Partners In Health in Liberia, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. She is co-responsible for projects in clinical and operations infrastructure and is currently designing a new hospital in the southeast region of Liberia. Previously, she worked on projects across Africa and Asia with Architecture for Humanity, MASS Design, and Build Change.
Elizaveta Moskvicheva was born and raised in Vladivostok, Russia. At the age of 16, seeking a better education, she moved to Ontario, Canada where she received her high school diploma. Living away from her parents and close friends, she managed to quickly adapt to a new environment and become more independent. During her high school years, while involved with various charity organizations and community service activities, she discovered her interests in communication and public relations. After high school, she received an Ontario Scholarship to attend York University in Toronto, where she majored in Communication. However, Elizaveta did not see enough opportunity for her future career in Canada, and after two years at York she decided to move to California to earn her BA in Communication at Woodbury University. In May 2017 she begins her first internship in PR at Marked Showroom in Los Angeles, where she will finally apply her knowledge and experience to the industry. After graduation, she is planning to apply to Law School and continue her studies.
Diana Tran graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture and a Minor in Graphic Design from Woodbury University. As a Senior Store Design Manager at Guess? Inc., Diana has been responsible for more than 1,000 retail remodel projects and store designs. Diana currently leads a team of planners who are responsible for more than 300 new stores in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Naveen Gowda is a 2012 graduate from the graphic design program who then went on to work at BabyFirst TV in 2014. In 2016, he launched a digital video content project within the company, leading to a branching out of the company’s brands: The parent company would become First Media, and BabyFirst would sit alongside digital verticals Blossom, So Yummy and Blusher which focus on food, crafts, life hacks, decor, fashion and comedy. The goal? To inspire women, everyday! Acting now as VP Content, Naveen leads creative for the First Media digital verticals in averaging over a billion views a month and growing to over 60 Million followers since launch. First Media is also responsible for creating over 40 videos with 100+ Million views, including the most viewed and shared video in social media history, and several viral brand integration videos with brands such as WalMart, Tinder, LetGo, 4Ocean, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more.
Woodbury alum Natalie Yaru’s leather clothing brand was recently featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Natalie Yaru’s first leather collection was designed and showcased while attending Woodbury University. Currently Natalie is the CEO and head designer of MANAM, a fashion design brand specializing in luxury leather clothing and accessories. She fully supports American garment industry by running all of MANAM’s production out of Los Angeles, and she strives to bring her customer the finest quality. Her source of leather comes from ethical farms and tanneries. The LA-based fashion designer’s leather pants were worn by actor Gal Gadot a.k.a. Wonder Woman on the cover of Rolling Stone’s September 2017 edition.
April Gabriellé is a 1982 graduate of Woodbury and a San Diego native. She is the proud single mother of two children and the author of “The Myth of the Broken Home – Guidebook for Single Parents.” April also works as a speaker and life strategist. We asked April a few questions about her life and career since her time at Woodbury:
Shahiedah is a Deputy Counsel with the County of Los Angeles. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Shahiedah completed her MBA degree at Woodbury. The combination of a JD and MBA gave her a unique set of skills. At the county, she works with client departments to assist in budgets, economic development programs, business regulations, and tax collection.
Alexis Marcy comes from a small town, but that didn’t prevent her from harnessing her passion for creativity and fashion and turning it into a highly coveted career developing new red carpet dresses, bridal looks and couture samples for a London-based fashion designer. Read about how, with the help of Woodbury, she turned her love of sewing into a rewarding and successful career.
Chris Sasaki is a character designer and illustrator living in Oakland, California. He works at Pixar Animation Studios and has designed characters for Monsters University (2013) and Inside Out (2015). Additionally, he production designed the original short film, Sanjay’s Super Team (2015) and Weekends (2017). Currently, Chris is art directing on an unannounced Pixar feature. His past clients include LAIKA Entertainment, Blue Sky Studios, Disney Television Animation, DreamWorks, Red Cap Greeting Cards, and Jim Henson Studios. His work has been featured at Gallery Nucleus, on Cartoon Brew, New York Times, and in the Society of Illustrators yearly annual. Chris made his first venture into illustrated books with a short story collection for young adults entitled GHOST.
Ignacio Rodriguez, AIA, Principal and CEO at IR Architects, graduated from Woodbury University’s Bachelor of Architecture program in 2007. Upon graduating, Ignacio developed his own distinct style as an architect and knew his goal was to start his own architecture firm. Ignacio realized that dream and at the age of 28 in 2012 started IR Architects where he has quickly become a formidable force in the competitive world of Los Angeles architecture.
Rhea Creado spent the majority of her life in Dubai and Australia, and in 2014 she moved to Los Angeles to begin a degree in Communication at Woodbury University. Moving to Los Angeles not only exposed Rhea to a new culture — including LA’s art scene and entertainment industry — but it also gave her the chance to explore more of the world as she began traveling to neighboring states any chance she got. While at Woodbury, Rhea developed interests in graphic design, writing, gender studies and cultural studies. She also furthered her passion for fine arts, and gained a minor in Art History while spending the majority of her free time painting, drawing and developing her artistic style. In her senior year, Rhea incorporated her many curiosities and interests into her thesis project in which she addressed issues of gender nonconformity and the importance of artistic expression in encouraging change and acceptance in society. Rhea is currently working on creating a graphic design portfolio and pursuing her love of writing. Having recently completed her Communication Studies Degree at Woodbury, Rhea will continue her studies this fall when she enters the MA program in Art + Education at New York University.
Malik grew up in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. In addition to being a Communication student, he has turned his love of music into a podcast called Pass the Aux, where he goes by the DJ name of Pastor ‘Lik, https://soundcloud.com/pass-the-aux. He features hip-hop (including old-school favorites like A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr), along with R&B, house music, and up-and-coming artists like Waldo, Dave B., and THEY. He recently interned at KCRW, a major National Public Radio station in Los Angeles, where he trained as a production assistant. A highlight of this experience was working for one day as an assistant for Nas, one of his all-time favorite rappers. His career goals are “to become a radio DJ for KCRW and hopefully have the ability to travel and DJ around the world.”
Elizaveta Grigoryeva was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Throughout her middle school and high school she traveled around the world, exploring different education systems and cultures. One day, at the age of 17 she decided to move to the state of Maine, in the United States. In Maine she completed her high school degree and decided that she had had enough of the cold and snow. This led her to sunny Los Angeles, California where she attended Woodbury University as a Communication major. As a Communication student, Elizaveta learned an enormous amount of information that provided her not only with a background in the history and theory of communication but also with great practical skills that have been helpful in her current job as a Development Manager at an Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships. While studying communication, Elizaveta developed an interest in event planning and writing. Today, Elizaveta is writing short stories that she shares with her close friends, and she hopes to write a book someday. Moreover, while writing her senior thesis on “Sustainable Music Festivals,” Elizaveta grew an absolute passion for sustainability. She tries her best to contribute to environmental protection through the recycling of plastic materials, volunteering for beach cleaning events, and in many other ways. She has become inspired to live a sustainable lifestyle and to become a vegetarian. Elizaveta believes that the Communication Department at Woodbury has the best professors who are kind, intelligent, and skillful mentors. With the guidance of her professors, Elizaveta has obtained more than skills and knowledge of communication, she gained a real experience that has prepared her for her future and made her a stronger individual. Elizaveta’s future plans are focused on becoming an event planner for sustainable networking and art exhibit events. She hopes also to use her communication skills to share awareness about the importance of sustainable lifestyles through her blog, short stories, and meetings with people all around the world during her travels.
Nix Santos was born in Manila, Philippines, and then moved to Rancho Cucamonga, CA at the age of ten. To say that this move changed her life would be an understatement – her whole world turned upside down, opening up infinite opportunities that she never thought were even possible as a young girl. After graduating from Rancho Cucamonga High School, she attended Pasadena City College for a few years until discovering Woodbury in 2015. All this time, her childhood love for film continued to evolve and flourish, writing as a film critic and interning at Everyman Pictures, all while receiving tremendous encouragement and support as a Communication major at Woodbury. Since graduating in December 2017, Nix has gone on to work for the prestigious film and television production company, Bad Robot. She currently works there as the receptionist and holds the ambition of becoming a writer-director
Madison Shafer graduated in 2018 with a BFA in Animation. Since graduation, her senior thesis film, Squatch Out! has screened at the International Children’s Film Festival at Comic-Con and at the Palm Springs International Animation Festival (where it was nominated for best comedy). Madison’s art was showcased at “Technique 2.0” at the House of Blues Anaheim, and she currently has a solo art exhibition in Newhall, Santa Clarita: http://santaclaritaarts.com/2019/07/09/summer-of-color/.
Ayaka Takahashi was born and raised in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. She decided to come to the U.S. because of her appreciation for the TV series High School Musical. She first studied at Snow Canyon high school in St. George, Utah from 2013-14, at the age of 17. She played on the basketball team and was able to meet lots of American friends. Based on that positive experience, she decided to remain in the U.S. and attend college in Los Angeles. Here again she was influenced by her love of American pop culture – her favorite song at that time was Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” She also wanted to improve her English speaking skills, so she decided to major in Communication at Woodbury.
At Woodbury, she appreciated the small class sizes, as well as the accessible teachers, who were very helpful for students. Especially for international students who might feel nervous, she felt comfortable in class and supported by her teachers. She learned how to talk with other students, give presentations, and write lots of essays. She enjoyed sharing her Japanese culture and learning from others about their cultures. Her professional goals are to teach English to Japanese high school and college students studying abroad, and to establish a language school in which both Japanese and non-Japanese people can learn new languages.