College of Humanities & the Arts
Why did you choose your major?
I have always been drawn to the arts—everything from early MS Paint drawings to musical theatre rehearsals, the odd afternoon spent writing poetry, and toddler-me’s infamous phase singing The Little Mermaid songs from my vantage point in a grocery cart wheeled down the aisles by my mom. I have a lot of interests but could find neither the method nor the willingness to focus them in only one area.
After I earned my A.A. in Studio Art from my stint in community college, my mom— who had recently taken a class with Dr. Riley before completing her B.A. and teaching credential program at SJSU—recommended the Creative Arts program to me. I loved that I did not have to narrow my interests, and that I could explore the connections between them and the functions of different media. I even had room in my academic plan for a minor (as all CA majors do), which is how I added Creative Writing to my academic career.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
The prevailing vision of artists in general is that we are a flighty and disorganized bunch. But I like to think of Creative Arts as home to artist-scholars. We are proud of our discoveries and “a-ha!” moments. We throw ourselves entirely into our research projects and we are committed to academic excellence—we just happen to have more fun with that commitment than the average student.
Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?
I owe a tremendous amount of my interests and successes to my mom—for arming me with the magic of books before I could even read them, for keeping crayons and glitter-glue and dress-up clothing well-stocked, and for her faith in whatever I choose to pursue.
It’s going to sound like I was put up to this, but I also greatly admire Dr. Shannon Rose Riley as a mentor, an artist, and an all-around rockstar of a thinker and doer whom I hope someday to emulate.
Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that have helped shape who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?
Freshman year, I dropped out of a fancy faraway private school because not knowing what I wanted to do, coupled with the fear of accumulating outrageous debt on an education I was not sure that I wanted, was a miserable existence. Suspicious of what seemed to be a systematic enslavement of the American people through student loan debt, I took a semester off before taking cheap and interesting community college classes. This helped me re-evaluate how I wanted to spend my time—at school and in life.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
Do it because you are passionate about the subjects you study. Don’t do it for the numbers. Do it for yourself, by surprise, even.
Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
In five to ten years, I hope to be an actively-publishing novelist, poet, and freelance writer… and also illustrate children’s books and album covers… and continue to sing and learn to play instruments… and, and, and. Watch for me.
A few words from her nominating professor:
“Sarah is an excellent representative of Creative Arts in the local area.
She has had an internship, for example, at the Society for Young Inklings and as a result of it, has become their first ever children's book publisher with her an imprint that she has created and developed "Your Name in Ink." She is also applying to MFA programs and will no doubt have much success in the future.”
- Shannon Rose Riley