Pioneer Profile

Saraina Adam '18

Major: Art (Fine Arts emphasis)
Minors: French and Biology

What made you choose this major?

My ultimate career goal is medical illustration, so initially I looked to double major in art and biology, however when fitting in a French minor, I didn’t have space for both majors. The graduate program I’m hoping to complete after graduation recommended majoring in art, then tailoring a biology minor to my interests.

How has what you’ve learned prepared you for your future?

The art department has been amazing and has allowed me to customize the fine arts emphasis of my major to suit graduate school requirements for medical illustration. In doing this, I’ve been able to take a variety of classes to improve my “fine arts” technical skills in 2-D media and also some graphics communication courses to familiarize myself with digital 2-D media, 3-D media and multimedia. This is especially crucial for my career path, since most medical illustrators will be working digitally either in rendering forms or in animation.

I also appreciate the balance in art courses between fundamental emphasis and conceptual development—most classes I’ve had focus on the former for the first half of the semester, then let students explore their own artistic interests for a series of projects where they can then apply their improved technical skills. Though my career path places a heavy emphasis on technical skills, exploring themes of personal interest has been enjoyable for introspection and self-discovery.

What opportunities have you had to work closely with a faculty member and what impact has that had on your education?

Individualized interaction is essential for art courses. Small class sizes allow professors to give more frequent feedback and critiques which has helped me push myself to be a better artist. My advisor, Pacia Sallomi, helped me enter into an apprenticeship/mentorship program with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Lakefront Festival of the Arts, one of the largest fine arts festivals in the United States, which has been an enriching and exciting opportunity.

It’s refreshing to walk through the art center and to know almost every professor I bump into (and for them to recognize and often know me by name). Downside: I can’t walk through the art building without talking to at least three people—no escape if I’m in a hurry.

What’s one of the most unique experiences you’ve had relating to the coursework in your major?

In Art 206, the intermediate drawing class, the second half of the semester was devoted to creating a series of work. The challenge with creating a series is developing both a coherent theme and a coherent style. I challenged myself to pick one-word conceptual names for each piece, then I had to figure out how to depict that abstract idea through art. I also challenged myself to incorporate expressive human hands in each piece and to use a mixture of mediums (ink, watercolor, pastel and gesso).

It was difficult, since this was the first series of works I had done in a couple years, but the end results were really rewarding. I could see the progress I made with each piece, strengthening the conceptual aspect and growing more comfortable with different mediums. It really felt like a culmination of every technical skill I’d improved upon throughout the semester, with the extra prize of seeing abstract, intangible concepts brought to life.

How has Carroll enriched your growth as a person outside of the skills you’re learning in the major?

A biology minor is essential to my career goals, and minoring has definitely worked out in my favor since I have been able to take anatomy-based and microbiology elective courses which are both useful and of personal interest. Through biology, I’ve been a part of Beta Beta Beta national honors society since freshman year and I’ve been able to participate in the executive board as webmaster, and have had opportunities to volunteer with professors in their research at the Greene Field Station. Biology also gave me the opportunity to be a supplemental instruction (SI) leader for the two intro classes. That allowed me to cement the fundamentals of biology and utilize creativity in facilitating study sessions for students.

I tested into the 300 level of French, so it seemed logical to go ahead and add a French minor. Learning French has always been enjoyable to me, and having knowledge of other languages is an asset for the future.

Additionally, I have been a part of Anime Club since freshman year and this year I’ve been part of the executive board as webmaster and secretary. As a special interest club, it’s been enjoyable to get to know fellow students with my same interests. Anime club has given me volunteer opportunities as well as opportunities to attend conventions.

If you were recommending your major to a prospective student, what would you tell them?

When choosing a major: go in with a plan. All majors have a certain amount of risk/security. Art I would consider a “risky” major, since the ratio between people who end up with high salary careers and those who don’t isn’t particularly favorable (in contrast to health sciences, which are a fairly stable major). But your major is still what you make of it. Don’t go into a major just because it has a good job outlook now (that could change in the time you’re in school). Find something you enjoy, but make sure you can do something with it—you might like a major, but do you like the career options that stem from it? I will literally never dissuade anyone from doing an art major—because art is just as necessary as any other major—if it weren’t, we would be living in a bland colorless existence (and if art weren’t important, why are we still using it, from the time of cavemen to now, to try to understand who we are and why we exist—but that is a different discussion).

Summary: Have a plan. Do what you love. And don’t stop fighting for your goals.

If I’ve learned anything from art it is to be comfortable with uncertainty and to never be satisfied with your progress.

Are you happy with your choice to attend Carroll University?

I look back at my pre-college self sometimes and wonder how I would have gone about my college search then knowing what I value in a good college now. To a certain extent, I still arrive at the same answer: I firmly believe that I could succeed at any institution so long as I put in the hard work and effort. But outside of academics, if I ever doubt that I made the right choice, I think of the people I’ve met and how the vast majority of those that have impacted me have been positive. I’ve made some of my closest friends here, I’ve been able to connect with multiple staff members who genuinely care about my success. The art department and biology departments have been flexible and accommodating with my career goals. In the end, it’s the people you meet and connect with that matter.

Learn more about the Art program

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