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Come as you are.

Nica Mendoza (Experience Design, 2023)

I’ve learned that sometimes you must pivot to keep up with the ebbs and flows of this thing called life. If you would have asked me years ago if I could see myself going into the world of advertising, I probably would have said no.

However, in taking a moment to sit and reflect, it actually makes total sense for the Brandcenter to be a part of the natural progression of my personal and professional development.

Being a problem solver has always been part of my DNA. Growing up in Indiana, I was a curious, unique, and creative kid. I mean, who else could have fun with pocket lint when there was nothing else to do! I wouldn’t necessarily open up stuff to see how it worked, but more so, would deconstruct it for it to have a new purpose. I can remember making countless new pieces of jewelry, art, fashion, or whatever else came to mind. When I came across radios, watches, and other things at my house, I considered them good “found objects.” My mother, however, would beg to differ.

Being imaginative never left my system; it just manifested in different ways throughout my life, allowing me to adapt to any circumstance that came my way—serving time in the Air Force, becoming a mom, attending CSU for fine arts and VCU for fashion design, and working for non-profits. There has always been a way for me to place my stamp on things at every twist and turn of my journey—be it a website, imagining a color story with textiles, creating new ways to form shapes with clay and metal, or finding new ways to push found materials’ limits.

When the opportunity to attend school to study art and fashion presented itself, I jumped on it. What better way to foster my creativity and do what I love most—being a maker. Studying fashion design introduced me to the basic concepts of brands, their individual voices, and impacts they have on consumers and the environment, which I found very interesting. After undergrad, I left with a curiosity to explore my options.

While researching numerous graduate programs that appealed to me, I came across the Brandcenter. The Experience Design concentration was the perfect balance of everything that I was looking for in a program.

Fast forward to the present day. Coming to the Brandcenter was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. It’s a dynamic program with some of the most talented thinkers and innovators I’ve ever had the chance to collaborate with. But, the best part about being here is how my professors, peers, and admin give me space to be me. “Come as you are” could easily be one of many mantras for the Brandcenter.