“My journey to RISD CE started when I was a kid taking RISD Young Artist classes. The variety of course content kept me entertained and it was refreshing to be in classrooms with students I didn’t go to school with. In many ways, I had similar feelings as an adult; the studio environment is so rewarding because it’s an opportunity to have discussion-based lessons with people of all different backgrounds.

Pursuing certificate programs became a natural choice for me after finishing my BFA at RISD in Illustration. They gave me a chance to further enhance my skills and focus on subjects that weren’t emphasized in undergrad; there was more freedom in choosing the curriculum that was right for me. I graduated from the Graphic Design certificate program this year and the Natural Science Illustration certificate program last year and was (pleasantly) surprised by how much the certificate programs prepared me for entering the job industry after graduation.

Professional Identity was both the most challenging and most rewarding course for me. It felt like the climax of my graphic design journey. I was accumulating all these skills throughout the program but hadn’t yet figured out how to apply them to my work in a way that made sense to me. I really had to push myself to think about my identity in ways I hadn’t before, which was very uncomfortable, but ultimately it relieved me of a lot of the previous pressure I put on myself to blend in with other designers. I have a very clear direction of what I’d like to pursue now.”

—Ava Varszegi, 2020 RISD CE Graphic Design and 2019 Natural Science Illustration certificate graduate

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