One of eight children, AJ spent his pre-teen years on the island of Jamaica with his brothers and sisters.
But, like many siblings, competing with his older brother was what filled his days – and most times it was on the sketchpad. “Whatever he did, I had to do better. If he drew an animal, mine was fiercer. If he created calligraphy, I would too – but it would be more elegant.”
Art came easy to AJ. His aunt and father also had the artistic gene. Mostly, though, AJ drew cars and Disney characters. “I never gave any thought to studying art or going to college. No one in my family ever had.”
But, that was all to change, when at the age of 13, he and his family moved about an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. “I entered 8th grade, but so late in the year that I repeated that year and stayed in Georgia until my junior year in high school, when my father announced we would be moving to Nantucket.”
On this next island, AJ found that his artistic talents were not only being recognized but supported and encouraged. In 2011, on his way to New Hampshire with a friend, who knew a person in admissions at Mount Ida, he took a side trip to the campus. Fortunately AJ had his portfolio and after showing it, was given a personal tour. “I really liked the campus and the architecture and made arrangements to come back.”
On the second tour, AJ met the soccer coach and team and soon he was back for an overnight visit.
“Mount Ida quickly became one of my top 3 choices, then the combination of Coach Campbell and financial aid catapulted Mount Ida to the top of the list.” And, it’s been a decision he hasn’t regretted.
As a graphic design major he’s gained the skills in the classroom that he needs to succeed. As captain of the soccer team he’s made lasting friendships and found a family among his teammates. And, he says, “The professors have always been there to help me learn who I am and given me insight into where I can see myself in the next 3 to 5 years.”
And for AJ, that might be in the field of package design. “I enjoy the problem solving aspect of package design. How do I get my product to stand out – to capture the consumer’s eye?” If not package design, web development holds intrigues.
Either way, he feels he is ready. “I’ve also spent time developing my communications skills. By working as an Orientation Ambassador and mentoring during Design Week, I’ve become much more comfortable at public speaking and more self-confident. I know that will help me land the job and serve me well.”
Although AJ is not sure exactly sure where his career path will take him. “I just know it will be someplace I’ve never been before – and it will be warm!”