Storyboard: Albert Soto

Shipyard to Shipshape: I Was Never Alone

Before I ever heard about ArtCenter, I was studying mechanical engineering at community college. I spent three years there, but it felt like longer.

I began taking ArtCenter at Night clases in the spring of 2012. It was an invigorating experience, even as I was having trouble coming up with the money I would need to stay enrolled. With the counsel of my parents, I decided that the only sensible thing to do was pull out of community college. Imagine my shock when I learned that none of my credits were transferrable.

How on earth was I going to make it to ArtCenter?

To start saving up funds for school, I began working as a helper in my dad’s shipyard. I worked there for three months and put away enough for rent and basic living needs. My parents weren’t able to just send me to ArtCenter – for tuition I would have to survive off loans and scholarships.

As a kid, I used to watch Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose on the Discovery Channel, where Foose would take cars in need of restoration and give them a complete overhaul. He would always sketch how the car would look in its final stages before the process began. It was an early indication of how cars could capture one’s imagination – and how illuminating transportation design itself could be. Imagine my lack of surprise when I found out that he went to ArtCenter!

Earlier this year, I was invited to speak to an important ArtCenter community group, the ArtCenter 100. Their entire mission involves raising money for scholarships – the very same scholarships that allowed me to attend the College in the first place.

In the audience were young people who aspire to go to ArtCenter. I saw kids who were in the same position I was once in. They had big dreams, but didn’t come from rich families that could hand them a blank check to pursue said dreams.

Maybe they didn’t have to clock in at a shipyard, but many of them were working two jobs to fund their ambitions.

Being the one who paid for my own education motivated me to work harder than the next guy. I was driven to invest in myself. And I had the help of the ArtCenter community. I hope that my own personal experience helps these kids to realize that they’re never alone.

Going to a school with a track record like ArtCenter’s costs real money. Education is a right, but it’s also a privilege. And ArtCenter is a place where you simply don’t get a “normal” education. It’s a place where people are given the exactly what they need to pursue the career of their dreams.

My ArtCenter graduation is right around the corner. Soon, I will be thrust out into the competitive working world that is post-college life. In some ways, it feels like it’s been a long time coming. In other ways, it feels like it was just yesterday that I first stepped foot onto the ArtCenter campus.

I’m happy to be graduating. I’m also a little nervous. Even with all the generous scholarships I received, I still have the obligation to pay back the loans that put me through school. And yet, since ArtCenter has groomed me to be the best-of-the-best, ultimately, I’m not too worried about it.

So to my fellow creatives who are struggling financially: you are not alone. I see you. The ArtCenter community sees you. Groups like ArtCenter 100 and other generous donors are dedicated to supporting scholarships. They want you and your talent out in the world. Keep pushing and keep struggling against the tide – you’ll get there.

Albert Soto
BS 18 Transportation Design

Being the one who paid for my own education motivated me to work harder than the next guy. I was driven to invest in myself. And I had the help of the ArtCenter community.

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