Animation and game arts major with illustration and graphic design minors finds faculty support in career plan shift
Stephannie Marie Vallee first visited UMass Dartmouth during her junior year of high school as a part of Art All State, an intense program that brings together a select group of exceptional artistic potential and commitment to work with practicing artists to create meaningful artwork in the College of Visual & Performing Arts building. After finishing the program, she received a $2,000 scholarship, and chose to enroll at UMassD in the fall of 2019.
"As a student that studied advertising & design at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, my vocational teacher really pushed and motivated me to take part in opportunities pertaining to art, and that’s how I ended up at UMass Dartmouth."
Why did you choose your major?
"I chose animation and game arts because I had an interest in concept art & 3D Modeling. Eventually, I was offered an opportunity to work as a Student Graphic Designer by Associate Dean of Students Shelly Scott, and it made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in graphic design. Although it’s a little late to change my major, it’s never too late to change your pathway to success. I’m very grateful to have my professors like Shawn Towne (animation & game arts) and Bruce Maddocks (illustration) supporting me in pursuing more design-based projects in my major to build out my design portfolio."
Do you have a favorite class?
"Honestly, it’s hard to choose one favorite class. All the years I’ve been at UMassD, I’ve been seeing a lot of familiar faces in my animation & game arts classes. When we all graduate, I’m going to miss everybody in the program because they all bring a fun energy that makes me chuckle from my seat. Whenever I have a bad day, attending those classes is always enough to elevate my mood for the rest of the day."
What’s your favorite thing about UMassD?
"My favorite things about UMassD are the opportunities to engage in the community. There are many things to do, explore, and take part in. I highly recommend checking out the Weeks of Welcome (WOW) events that happen in the first few weeks of every fall semester and attending the Moonlight Breakfast, which happens at the end of every semester. The Moonlight Breakfast has a different theme every semester, such as outer space, holidays around the world, superheroes, and a pajama party."
What advice would you give to a freshman?
"Look into opportunities around the campus. I became an orientation leader fresh out of the COVID-19 lockdown with a strong motivation to meet new people and restart my college experience after losing over a year by staying at home. Start strong while you can because you'll never know what happens."
What are you most proud of accomplishing at UMassD?
"I’m proud of the growth that I’ve made since fall 2021. Being an orientation leader really grew my confidence, and helped me push forward since the COVID-19 lockdown. Before the lockdown, I struggled a lot with image and confidence, so I was insecure about trying to fit in and finding my place. After my first year of being an orientation leader in the fall of 2021, I really felt like I made a home for myself at UMassD. By being an orientation leader, I made plenty of friends from the team, and even found somebody that I hold dear to this day."
Do you feel like you made the right choice coming here?
"Absolutely. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve missed out on the opportunities that allowed me to meet the people that I now know. I wouldn’t have become an Orientation Leader, and I probably wouldn’t be as happy with the progress I’d make in my career if I attended elsewhere."
What are you looking to pursue after graduating?
"Although my major is animation & game arts, I'm planning to go into a career pertaining to graphic design, and I'm actively building a separate portfolio to aid me in my future career as a graphic designer. I've added a graphic design minor to my studies, so that I can get more peer feedback in that area, and I definitely feel like I'm ready to move forward in graphic design."