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Photo credit: Everyday Health Photo of Hernandez (dressed in all black) at The Watcha! Film Series in honor of Women’s History Month.

Stigma surrounding which college majors can provide a stable career and which ones do not continues to be in the spotlight today. However graduating senior Rudy Ortiz is determined to fight this stigma. 

Ortiz is one of the 506 students graduating this semester from Our Lady of the Lake University. However, one major difference setting Ortiz apart from the rest of this graduating class is that he is the sole Bachelor of Arts in Visual and New Media Arts student that will be walking the stage this ceremony.

“I am a Visual and New Media arts major with no minor. The reason I chose this degree is because art has always been a passion of mine,” Ortiz said.

Like most college students, Ortiz found himself changing his major early on. “I actually changed my major a couple of times because I wanted a ‘successful’ career path, but no major I chose felt right. It wasn’t until I let go of the bad stigma people were letting me believe about not finding any jobs in art that I was able to pursue what I love to do. I believe that in order to live a happy, successful life you have to do what you love and not let the thoughts of others tell you otherwise,” he said.

Ortiz was accepted by OLLU on the spot when they came to his high school. “OLLU was right down the street from where I lived and the more I looked into it the more I felt it was a good match for me. In the end I had no regrets coming to OLLU,” he said.

While at OLLU Ortiz has gotten involved with Art, Ink and Alpha Sigma. Art, Ink “is an organization that is open to any person who is interested in art in any way shape or form,” and Alpha Sigma is “the art honor society at Our Lady of the Lake,” he said. Ortiz served as Treasurer for Art, Ink this year. “These organizations have impacted me by introducing me to other students who have a passion for art. Actually, when I first started attending OLLU there were no art organizations that were active. It wasn’t until Art, Ink was created that I was able to discover new people and future friends,” he added. 

After earning his undergraduate degree Ortiz said  that he is thinking about going to grad school to learn “more skills to improve my art work and hopefully getting to teach others about the world of art. I want to make art important to society because it is a big part of our life and culture as human beings. Art is being pushed aside for more ‘academic’ courses but I believe that art is found in every subject. I have this need of making people who say that they aren’t artistic create something and no matter how much they fight it I push them to create. I don’t do it to be mean but to show them that we all have potential to create, we each have a different perspective in this life so why not share it. It is also because of this I get told that I should become a teacher,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz is proud to be graduating an OLLU Saint, and said “attending OLLU has changed me in a positive way, before attending you could say I wasn’t aware of anything that was going on in the world around me. Coming here has brought me to a state of mind to where I know I can make an impact in this world if I wanted to. No person is powerless. All the doctors and professors here have amazing stories on the impact they have made in their lives and the lives of others and that’s something I strive for. Before I just wanted to get a degree, get a good career, make lots of money to buy myself whatever I want. Now I want to help not only myself but others to make this negative world a little less negative,” Ortiz said.

As a student in the Visual and New Media Arts program Ortiz has been preparing for his senior art exhibition under the guidance of Associate Professor of Art, Debora Vasquez, MFA. 

“In all of the art classes they have to do a paper, art work reflecting that paper and then a presentation. By the time they graduate and do their final exhibition they’re presenting like pros and that’s one of the things I’m very proud of,” Vasquez said.

Ortiz presented his art exhibition ‘Desde La Raiz’ Tuesday, April 30 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the blue room. After discussing his inspiration for the art exhibition, those in attendance were allowed to walk around and see the artwork presented. In his exhibition statement Ortiz said “while I was doing artwork the artist Natalia Lafourcade voice broke through my concentration. I knew then I wanted to create artwork surrounding the concept of her song. Desde La Raiz is about moments we all go through in life (whether good or bad) and how those moments take part in shaping the person we become. I want people to embrace every second they see and feel because it is a part of existing. Even though that maybe difficult to do at times, it becomes the only way out of the darkness. In these paintings I have captured moments from my life that I haven’t shared with many people, but I felt it was the right way to go for my first ever exhibition.”

After graduating Ortiz hopes “to let others know that in this life you have to do what makes you happy. I want others to see that through hardwork and dedication anything is possible. Everyone’s voice will be heard, especially if you are persistent enough,” he said.

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