Micheal Dwight performing passionately at a Cal Poly Pomona concert this year. Photo courtesy of Michael Dwight

Senior art students prepare to graduate

By April Ruiz, May 14, 2024

As the curtains draw close on their academic journey, senior art students stand at the doorstep of a new chapter, finding themselves on the verge of the professional world.  

With the transition comes emotions, varying from excitement and determination to anxiousness and hesitation. Each artist experiences a unique path that leads them to their future in their given industries.  

Among these art students is Marjorie Semsem, a senior visual communication design student who is wrapping up her time at Cal Poly Pomona.  

Semsem, initially starting out in urban and regional planning, found her creativity being limited, driving her to make a switch.  

“I’ve always had a passion for the arts ever since I was little,” said Semsem. “So after switching, I was happy with the decision I made.”  

The transition happened early on, making just a slight detour, but allowing her to quickly catch up in her newfound passion.  

Taking a recent interest in motion graphics, Semsem is hoping to get her foot in the door to a junior graphic design position after college. 

Throughout her time at CPP, Semsem recognizes skills she has developed that will benefit her future efforts, such as a portfolio class that helps students prepare for the professional world and how to navigate the art and design industry.  

“I think being able to communicate your ideas is a very important skill to have, because I don’t think everything is just about making aesthetically pleasing stuff,” Semsem said. “Sometimes your designs have a purpose, and you need to be able to communicate what that purpose is.” 

Though feeling prepared for the transition to the professional world, Semsem has run into one common major issue among college students: imposter syndrome.   

It has taken some time and reassurance for Semsem to recognize that comparing her journey to others’ can be counterproductive.  

“It came down to reminding myself that I’m my own person,” Semsem said.“I’m on my own journey. It’s not really much of a competition.”  

Semsem emphasizes the need to stand out and brand oneself in the industry, drawing inspiration from her identity as a Filipino American to inspire her work with cultural elements and meanings.  

“I take pride in my identity and how I present that in my work because at the same time, it’s also like educating people who view my work about Filipino culture,” Semsem said.  

Looking to the future, Semsem plans to contribute to the art industry by designing work that reflects her Filipino American heritage and addresses social, environmental and political issues.

Marjorie Semsem wraps up her time at Cal Poly Pomona as a visual communication design student. April Ruiz | The Poly Post

In the world of music at CPP is Michael Dwight, a senior student who is nearing the end of his pedagogy studies and hopes to make a difference with his degree. 

Dwight has dedicated his time to learning various instruments and teaching methods,  highlighting a desire to help others, which stems from his home life as he hopes to serve as a personal link between struggling students and music.  

“I want to help keep the arts alive and help kids find an outlet that they can use to express their feelings and themselves while having fun,” said Dwight.

Micheal Dwight performing passionately at a Cal Poly Pomona concert this year. Photo courtesy of Michael Dwight

Growing up in a city with many broken homes, Dwight faced tough times including financial hardships throughout his childhood. His experiences inspire him to connect with students in his hometown by creating positive relationships with music early on to support future generations. 

“If it wasn’t for music, being able to perform, I would lose myself in the music,” said Dwight. “I find happiness there, so I figured if I could bring happiness to the children also coming from troubled backgrounds, it’d be worth it.” 

With a mix of nerves and excitement, Dwight anticipates diving into the music industry, specifically in children’s education. He sees it as a great opportunity to shape children’s understanding of music, looking to be the person he wanted around as a child. 

With plans on attending grad school in his future, Dwight also wants to expand his knowledge to pave a way for a stable career path. 

Finally, ready to take the stage is Kristen Still, a theatre student preparing for her last show at CPP.  

Entering the world of theater thanks to her high school electives, Still has a passion for acting that continued throughout high school, junior college, and eventually CPP. 

“I love to tell stories; I love to inspire people to tell other people’s stories,” said Still.“That’s something that’s a major hit in the heart for me.” 

Feeling prepared from her senior seminar class, Still is hopeful the knowledge and education gained will open doors for her future goals. 

She’s focused on booking jobs, gaining experience, and channeling those efforts toward attending her dream grad school, USC.

Theatre student Kristin Still smiles in front of signatures and drawings from cast and crew members of the shows performed during her time at Cal Poly Pomona. April Ruiz | The Poly Post

Despite a schedule filled with day long rehearsals, practicing lines, and outside responsibilities, Still’s passion for theater keeps her focused.  

Reflecting on her time in the theater, Still believes her dedication and creativity show in every role she plays, whether she’s learning lines or bringing a character to life. Her time at CPP has improved her acting skills and inspired her to explore new opportunities. 

As she approaches graduation, Still feels a mix of both excitement and confidence for the future. She knows the transition from student to professional actor will be challenging, but she is optimistic about her future efforts. 

“We all have dream roles, but any opportunity is a good opportunity, ” said Still. 

Still gains confidence from embracing her extroverted personality, allowing herself to navigate her environment. She values the opportunity to branch out and meet others in an unpredictable world, appreciating the importance of connections. 

According to Still, her time at CPP has allowed her to grow not only as an actor but as a person, shaping her into a motivated, open-minded, and passionate performer. Looking down the road ahead, feeling as ready as possible, Still feels well supported for the real world as she can continue to rely on her current faculty for guidance. 

“I feel really ready,” said Still. “I’ve learned what I needed to make the next jump.”

Feature image courtesy of Michael Dwight

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