High Life

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Poly Alumni Success Story

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Majoring in the arts can be a controversial risk for those applying to college because the debate still stands of whether it is a reliable source of income.

Helena Hsieh has had her successes in the art industry around the country, beginning with her experiences at Poly. She is a former Poly graduate who attended UCLA majoring in English. She continued to pursue her artistic career in graphic design and went to school at the San Francisco Art Institute. Like many, Hsieh used art as an outlet for her emotions that soon developed into a passion when she took art classes as a freshman at Poly.

When initially applying for colleges, she was unsure of what she truly wanted to do as a career, in her mind art was still a risk because of financial reasons. Her parents were worried that she would not prosper and also remained skeptical that she didn’t choose a secure career in a different industry. Despite possibly disappointing her parents, Hsieh decided to take that risk of becoming an artist. She surpassed the struggling artist stereotype and consistently worked other jobs to make sure she had a stable income. She made connections as she moved farther away from Long Beach and felt like she made the right decision to follow her passion.

Even after traveling the world, Hsieh realized that Long Beach will always be her home and the place her career took off. Her words of wisdom for those considering art as a career is to always “be passionate.” Do not believe that “what you create has to be mainstream in order to succeed” because then your work would no longer be meaningful to you. Even if times might might be hard financially, “it isn’t always about the money” and the real reward is doing what you love everyday.

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