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Khristian Mendez '15
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Khristian first heard about College of the Atlantic from his high school English teacher, and COA alumnus, Michael Griffith '09. Khristian was interested in graphic design, but was concerned an art school might isolate him from his other interests.
Michael had us read Naomi Klein's No Logo. It made me think about using design for our own means. Designing my own major sounded like a big responsibility, but at the last minute I decided to apply for early decision enrollment and everything has worked out the way I wanted!
Khristian's Advice to Students?
Remember that college is just a short span of our learning, and it doesn't stop once you graduate. Remember that this is not your last chance! It is just a springboard to learning many other things.
Learning at COA
Khristian says that although he has committed himself to graphic design both in and outside of the classroom, it doesn't feel like his major was limited to design. During his freshman year Khristian worked with Earth in Brackets [Earth] to prepare for the Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil. He designed booklets other COA delegates wrote and he enjoyed being able to work with both content and form.
It doesn't look like I majored in graphic design. I have been able to do a lot of projects for the community and learned to take advantage of my classes. I have also learned that you can do more with less. I have done graphic design every term, whether in class or not.
Significance of Self-Direction
While taking Food, Power and Justice with Professor Molly Anderson, Khristian wrote a research paper in addition to a creating an infographic, using his design talents. The infographic helped him land an internship in Rome, Italy with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
We get to call the shots in most of the classes we take, and we can learn about something from different perspectives. Professors push us in directions we don't necessarily want. Self-direction is the combination of doing what I want with guidance from them.
I have learned how to ask the right questions and be diligent about my time and choices. There are so many things you can do here, it is hard to choose. I have also really learned to love the outdoors. After my internship in Rome, I learned to live in quiet places, and to like non-urban environments. During my internship, a group of COA students came to attend the Committee on World Food Security. Professor Suzanne Morse came early, and we were able to get pizza, talk about school, and walk around the city. It was nice to see someone from COA in a different environment, as both a teacher and a friend.
Khristian is Guatemalan, and during his first term at COA, he took the Guatemalan History Seminar with Professor Todd Little-Siebold. He later went to Guatemala as part of the course.
Learning what I learned changed the way I see my country and family for the better. It was an intense experience and I learned a lot. My dad was able to come to the course presentations. Seeing him interact with intense academic individuals helped me see that my experiences can also impact others.
The Role of Human Ecology
Human Ecology will be central to everything I do. For job purposes I can say I'm a graphic designer, but I can feel that I am more than that. Knowing that the types of questions relating to graphic design relate to the rest of the world and impact others is a mindset central to Human Ecology.
Examples of Khristian's work