As Graphic Design junior, Nya Walker, points out, design is all around us. “It’s always been crazy to me how much we see and interact with graphic design on a daily basis,” she says. “Whether it’s with package design, a movie poster or a billboard – it’s almost this invisible industry that isn’t talked about much but that is literally everywhere.”
After graduating from Grand Arts High School, an institution that focuses on visual arts in downtown Los Angeles, Nya knew that she wanted to be part of this pervasive world of design. “Art had always been a huge part of my life growing up,” she says. “I was always really into drawing and painting from a young age. But it really clicked for me when I took an Advertising and Graphic Design course through a high school program at Art Center College.”
Nya was hooked on the possibilities that design could bring. “In recent years, as technology, web design and social media have boomed, there is a much greater awareness of design, and I wanted to be a part of all of that.” After graduating high school in 2015, Nya decided to attend Art Center — where she had taken her weekend courses — as a Graphic Design student.
“After spending a year there, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me,” she says. “While I learned a lot during my year there, I felt that the extreme demand from all of the course work and projects, as well as the lack of time for a social life, left me feeling intensely drained.” Nya had always considered herself a hardworking student, but being in an environment where multiple all-nighters a week seemed standard was pushing her too far. “I never had time to see my friends outside of school. I barely even had time to eat on some days!”
In addition to the stress caused by the heavy workload, there were financial challenges for Nya at Art Center as well. “With no time to work even part-time due to the rigor of my classes, I really needed a different school environment where there would be more balance,” she says. “At this point, I made the decision to leave what I had thought was my dream school to find a place that better fit my needs and ambition.”
She initially transferred to Glendale Community College to get some general education credits out of the way. The opportunity to catch her breath a bit while she was there opened up a world of possibilities for Nya. “I was taking classes, working a part-time retail job, and then I slowly began to build a freelance design clientele as well.” Nya initially began doing packaging and branding work for a neighbor who had just started a small candle company called ROEN. That experience enabled Nya to gain experience as a designer and build a network of freelance clients.
After two years at GCC, Nya began looking to transfer into a university Graphic Design program and she had her sights set on Woodbury. “My older brother, Malik, had graduated from Woodbury in 2017 with a degree in Communication,” Nya says. “It was the positive experience that he had that influenced my decision come here.” She has also found a better school-life balance at Woodbury. “I’m really enjoying my experience here. I definitely still feel challenged, but at the same time, I’m getting the balance that I had hoped to find in a school.”
Once she graduates in the spring, Nya hopes to start working for a design firm or a studio. “I’m really passionate about package design but some of the web classes I’ve taken at Woodbury have also piqued my interest in web and UX,” she says. “I’m excited to see what the future holds, and if my college experience has taught me anything, it’s to trust the process and know that I’ll end up where I belong.”