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Leslie L. (Mariotts Ridge HS, 2022) - Carnegie Mellon University


  • Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) - Communication Design

  • Columbia University - Visual Arts

  • University of Southern California (USC) - Game Art, Scholarship $126,936.00

  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) - Graphic Design

  • Ringling College of Art and Design - Early Action, Game Art, Presidential Scholarship $100,000.00

  • College for Creative Studies (CCS) - Early Action, Concept Design, CCS Scholarship + Creative Concepts Scholarship $144,000.00

  • School of Visual Arts (SVA) - Early Action, Illustration, Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship $94,000.00

  • Art Center College of Design - Entertainment Design-ArtCenter UG Scholarship $20,000.00

  • Northeastern University - Undeclared Major, Merit Scholarship $120,000.00

  • Smith College - Arts & Technology, Dora Windes Zollman Scholar $116,960.00

  • Brandeis University - Psychology, Justice Brandeis Scholar $82,000.00

  • New York University (NYU) - Game Design

  • Tufts University - Combined Degree Program

  • University of Pennsylvania - Design / Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

  • University of Michigan - Undeclared Major

  • University of Maryland - Early Action, Government and Politics

  • UC San Diego - Business Psychology

  • Wellesley - Media Arts and Science

1. How do you feel about your college acceptance?

Excited! I have a lot more options open to me than expected. It’s insanely rewarding knowing the effort of the past few years has paid off.

2. What was the most difficult aspect of your portfolio preparation?

Probably the volume and caliber of work. I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to major in and ended up applying for different majors based on the school, so I had to prepare fine art, graphic design, and concept art pieces. It was a lot of work for a fairly tight period of time, but I managed. I'm so grateful for the teachers at NYSA who supported and pushed me throughout the process.

3. When did you start the portfolio class, and how did you prepare your portfolio?

I attended the portfolio classes for a few months during my sophomore year but paused due to Covid and came back the summer before my senior year. I was at the studio about twice a week for 3 hour classes, sometimes less sometimes more depending on the week. The class is definitely more intensive but it’s also very self-driven. The professors help you with the groundwork and guide you throughout but you have to be willing to put in the effort outside of class as well.

Prior to the application process, I met with Ms. Lee to make a plan for each school/major I wanted to apply to and what portfolio pieces I’d need. I worked with Ms. Lee and Ms. Ann for fine art, Ms. Tory (Victoria) for digital/concept art, and Ms. Yunzi for graphic design. I had an amazing experience with all the teachers. The classes were challenging but supportive, and I felt myself improve a LOT throughout.

4. What is your favorite artwork that you made?

Probably the digital art pieces I made with Tory! I love that NYSA really caters to what each individual student is interested in, no matter how niche. You have the freedom to craft your own path with teachers who guide you in your goals. I’m most passionate about concept art/design, so I got to be super creative with building my concept art portfolio with character design and world building. Tory is an awesome teacher too; she’s got great energy and really knows what she’s talking about.

5. Tell us your thoughts about the NYSA!

Hands down the best art studio I’ve attended. I’ve grown up doing art my whole life, so I’ve been to a fair share of different studios. NYSA is easily the best; the teachers are incredibly kind and dedicated to their students. They’re so invested in helping you attain your goals while still allowing you to be independent and self driven. It’s honestly like a family here. There’s a huge range of resources available to whatever art-related discipline you’d like to pursue, whether it be fashion design or animation or anything else under the sun. You get to work closely with teachers that genuinely care about you and your goals.

As for the fine art classes, us portfolio students shared some of the same general assignments but also worked on highly personalized pieces depending on what we needed for our portfolios. The teachers have a lot of prior experience with portfolio prep, so if you’re unsure about what the process entails, rest assured they know what they’re doing. You have to be self-motivated and independent but you get just the right amount of guidance.

I took graphic design classes with Ms. Yunzi to work on some pieces for my CMU portfolio. She’s a wonderful teacher who will dedicate time outside of class to prepare materials. She’s very creative and sweet and gives a lot of thoughtful feedback. Loved her class. (Yunzi is also a super super talented designer whom I look up to a lot!!)

I’ve already mentioned Tory’s digital portfolio class, but I still wanted to emphasize how much I enjoyed it. It’s a very open class where we get to bounce ideas off each other and receive valuable critique. Tory was really flexible when it came to my needs for my portfolio, which I really appreciate. She’s also really fun.

I’m incredibly grateful I had the chance to attend this studio. I met a lot of cool people, students and faculty alike, and I got to really hone in on my passions. Absolutely loved the experience.

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