I think I speak for all 2020 graduating seniors, when I say that college did not end in the way that I expected it to.
My journey at the Columbus College of Art & Design, started when I was in middle school. I knew that I wanted to go to fashion college one day, and luckily, my hometown of Columbus, Ohio served as a great place to do so. (Did you know that Columbus is America’s #3 fashion capital next to NYC and LA?!)
My mom found a summer art program at CCAD for middle and high school students, and I ended up falling so in love with the college. It’s a small private school, solely focused on developing artists and designers, but it’s quaintness is what made it feel like home. I went back to numerous summer programs throughout high school and all the way until I was graduated and ready to actually attend CCAD as a college student.
I pretty much grew up at CCAD.
Some of my very favorite memories took place on its campus. I remember sitting in the 2nd floor of the Design Studios when I was 14…I had just gotten my braces, and was learning about color theory from my mentor Bethany.
I also remember walking into that same classroom for a visual literacy course on my 18th birthday with saran wrap on my ribcage because I went to get a tattoo in between classes. (Let me clarify, my mom took me to get it as a birthday present. It’s a very small tattoo, my only one, that even I forget that I have sometimes. Somehow this remains the ‘craziest’ thing I’ve ever done in life)
There was definitely a ‘phase’ I went through in high school and entering college, where I crafted my identity in colored hair, nose rings, and designing skull and cross bone t-shirts. Throughout my time at CCAD, I began to shift, change and evolve into what I feel is my true identity not only as a designer or as a brand, but as a human.
CCAD taught me about sustainability in the fashion industry, and I started to change my design process into using eco-friendly materials and methods. I studied Parisian haute couture designers, and became entranced with dress making.
I met Randy, who became CCAD’s first campus minister in partnership with the Coalition of Christian Outreach, and before I knew it, I found myself for the first time in life, in fellowship with classmates and attending weekly bible studies. My love and discovery of Christ was planted. I was invited to a life changing Christian conference, and afterwards started attending a local church on Sunday mornings.
At Sunday church, I met Gabe, who after a little while began to come pick me up in his old pickup truck from the dorms and take me to get ice cream after I finished all my homework.
My aesthetic slowly shifted into girly, floral, frilly, rose gold and pink EVERYTHING. And I started to develop my brand, and discover my purpose.
My college career was filled with bible studies, sleepless nights, and me often times missing class to hop on a plane to my next fashion show.
I guess the point in what I’m writing is, I’m going to miss this school.
I always dreaded leaving CCAD, because it’s always been what’s felt comfortable to me. I never wanted to leave the photography studio or library or sewing labs. I always knew that the last day of my senior year would be really hard for me.
I just didn’t know it was coming so soon.
Our final end of year fashion show was scheduled for May 8th 2020, with our commencement ceremony the next morning on the 9th. My whole family was going to come into town to celebrate that weekend. All 14 of us seniors in the fashion design program worked extremely hard on our collections, and had just presented them for judging on February 28th.
After the judging was over, we found out that every student in the class got selected to be in the final show! We were happy, excited, and ready to nap. Spring break started on March 9th, but since all my work was done, I left for spring break a couple days early, on March 4th to head to San Francisco to see my very best friends in Praxis’ Emerging Founders Program. (More on that later, basically….it’s the best Christian entrepreneurship program ever and I still can’t believe I was selected to be in it)
My point of this long story (that doubles as a therapy session for me) is that I didn’t know March 3rd was going to be my last day at CCAD. I wasn’t expecting it to end so soon.
Upon returning from San Francisco, COVID-19 started rapidly spreading in the US and our one week spring break turned into a two week spring break, into remote classes for a month, into remote classes for the rest of the year, into no fashion show or graduation ceremony. We were instructed to go to campus to clean out our lockers, grab anything we left behind, and quietly return back to our homes. I walked into the sewing lab to grab my things, and immediately pictured teenage me at 15 learning to dye fabric for the first time.
I cried, because if you know me well, you know that crying is a normalcy for me. I took some photos, walked around for a bit. And then my fiancé helped me pack all my things.
Yes, my fiancé. Gabe. The same boy that picked me up outside the freshman dorms when I was 18 in his pickup truck, is the same boy that I am now 21 and engaged to and will be marrying in the art museum on campus next year.
I’m leaving CCAD a better person. I’m grown, I’ve started my own brand and LLC company, I’m getting married, I developed a strong work ethic like no other, and I learned how to dream.
So thank you, CCAD. We had way more time together than most people. (Seriously, the admin people are probably waiting for me to leave) This abrupt ending, the band aid being ripped off of me, has taught me the main thing that I believe I was always missing as an artist and that is, to have tough skin.