Coming from Harper College, I didn’t know what to expect from a small college. Things were much larger at Harper. More space, more buildings, more people, more resources. Though community was nowhere to be found. Faces would easily be lost within an hour; people had places to be. No one stayed around campus unless they absolutely had to be there.
Elmhurst provided community. Before transferring, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. I wanted to be a part of something that proved I was good at design. I found out about The Leader newspaper, and MiddleWestern Voice (MWV) and thought, “wow, it would be so fun to include my own ideas onto this.”
One day, free ice cream was being given out in the cafeteria and I stopped by to enjoy a delicious treat. I was going to go sit alone at one of the tables but was met with a friendly smile. “Hey! You’re in my graphics class, right? Come sit with me!” A friendship was born. My friendship with Julia Zawitkowska (the graphics editor) is the best thing that happened at Elmhurst. I’ve never met anyone else with such a strong passion for art and design. We inspire each other endlessly through art. Together, we make a great team. She knew that, and she invited me to join the newspaper.
The Leader was an incredible place for me to flourish on campus. Nova, Noah, Sameeha, Marisa, Gianna, Lexi, Josie, and especially Julia created such an inviting environment from day one. It was incredible to see everyone so passionate about all that was going on around the world and on campus. These people wanted their voice to be heard. Everyone was so kind to me, and we all became friends very soon as we bonded over production days. Wow, I deeply miss production. Rushing to design multiple pages, trying to make it look beautiful, randomly deciding to update the logo, leaving campus after midnight — all so fun.
Though, Elmhurst wasn’t all la-dee-da. Racism is very present on this campus. In my first semester, multiple cases of hate speech and nationalist propaganda were spread around campus. It was terrifying, I felt that I could not trust my classmates fearing I would be a target of a hate incident. I was promised diversity and inclusivity when I applied, but that was never delivered. Brown and Black students are only seen as a way for the school to make money. We are tokenized and placed on banners, flyers, the homepage of the website, yet we are ignored and tossed to the side when we actually attend. What’s even more ridiculous is after these incidents, the campus decided the best way to make their non-white students feel safer was to increase the amount of police on campus. I hated coming to campus. At least I got my design printed on multiple shirts. You’re welcome, Elmhurst.
After the challenging semester, things got better. Andrew Sobol is the most incredible professor I’ve ever had in all my years of education. Never have I met a professor with that much dedication and passion to his craft, his teachings, and his students. He pushes me to do great, provides effective feedback, and motivates me to get my work seen. He will always be there to help no matter the issue, and he does it with a smile. He was the first teacher to ever say my name correctly, Arturo, in Spanish — and I am grateful for that. My involvement with MiddleWestern Voice allowed me to build a stronger connection with him. He helped me grow a lot as a designer and an artist. Without his eye for design, I feel that I would be so behind in my career. But because of him, I feel confident going forward into the industry. I’m scared, but I feel that he has provided me with the knowledge I need to succeed.
Thank you, Andrew. Thank you, Julia. Thank you, Lynn Hill. Thank you to everyone at The Leader. You all made Elmhurst an amazing experience. I hold you all in my heart forever.