Scholar Voices: A portrait of passion, how art inspired my interest in engineering
As a child, I always found myself consumed in art. Every brush stroke required complete concentration, each colored patch demanded a precise amount of pressure. However, contrary to what art means to others, art was never about expressing myself. For me, it was a way to keep myself busy while my parents worked and my sisters were at dance practice. It made me feel like I was somewhere else in the countless hours that I spent locked inside my home and made time fly.
More importantly, it allowed me to connect to people. My idol growing up was my cousin, Antonio, who, in my mind, was the greatest artist to ever live. I would always draw alongside him as a way to bond and from those moments, I grew to love art. My favorite type of drawing became portraits because I was fascinated by the fact that with paper and a pencil I could create a dimensional face that would look back at me.
After a while, my art led me beyond my bonding time with Antonio and gave me an outlet to connect with other people around me. I was very shy as a child and would not be one to initiate conversations. However, my art drew people to me and instilled in me confidence. Classmates, friends and family would come see what I was drawing or ask me the meaning behind a piece. What I love most about art though is not expressing my own emotions but rather seeing the emotions that I evoke in others when they are looking at my pieces. Giving someone a piece of art and watching their face light up is worth every broken pencil and painstaking detail.
As I grew older, art shifted from a hobby I used to pass time, and I began working on larger pieces and taking formal classes. When I arrived at Buena Park High School, I was in the drawing and painting class for three days. The teacher pulled me out and moved me to the Advanced Placement (AP) class after seeing my portfolio. I was the only freshman to ever take AP Art in their first year, and I was terrified that I would not make it through the year. My teacher nurtured me, however, and I ended up making many friends that changed my perspective on art. Once again, art allowed me to connect to those around me.
As the year progressed, I became more involved in the art community on campus by joining the art club and drawing any chance that I had. Eventually, I had the opportunity to help design and paint an athletics mural that hangs in the main hallway in addition to a mural in the library that was painted on top of recycled books. This allowed me to embed a piece of myself into the school that will stay long after I graduate and will hopefully inspire everyone who walks past it.
Since then, I’ve been the art club president for three consecutive years and have taken AP Art for all four. I also began taking Saturday art classes at Cal State Fullerton through the Ryman Arts Academy and have placed in various art shows. My favorite piece that has been displayed is a charcoal drawing of my friend Richard. He was the first person that helped me get through my freshman art class and was the student that worked with me to create the library’s mural. My portrait of Richard placed 3rd in the Congressional Art Competition, the Congressional Institute’s nationwide high school visual art show. The piece is currently on display in Washington D.C.
While I have just begun my senior year of high school, and I am still navigating my path to the right college with the support of TGR Foundation and the Earl Woods Scholar Program team, what I have learned is that my passion for art has sparked my interest in engineering. Wherever I end up attending college, I am excited for my future as an engineering major because it combines what I love the most about math, design and connecting to people. Art gave me a place to focus all of my attention on one thing that I could never do “wrong” and will always have an important place in my heart.
Redefining what it means to be a champion.
View Yesenia’s full collection of drawings and paintings through her online portfolio.