Graduates in the Spotlight : 2018 Graduates in the Spotlight

Jesse Navarra

Image of Jesse NavarraHOMETOWN: Stormville, New York

MAJOR: Illustration

WCSU DEGREE: Master of Fine Arts

ACTIVITIES: Started a project that bridged the Visual and Performing Arts departments where he would photograph theatre arts students participating in the plays in their costumes, then he’d organize a group of visual arts students to draw portraits of them for display during the play’s run as advertising and to help build excitement within the student body.

HONORS AND AWARDS: Visual and Performing Arts Deans Award



Jesse Navarra started at Dutchess Community College and transferred to WestConn after attaining an associate degree. After completing a bachelor’s degree at WCSU, he re-enrolled for the graduate program in fine arts. “I decided to come to WestConn due to its location, and because the faculty seemed really willing to work with individual students to help make their college experience as fulfilling and successful as possible.”

He decided to major in illustration because “I love creating images that people can connect with.”

Navarra says, “Throughout my educational career at WestConn, the entire Visual Arts department has been nothing but amazing to me. Specifically Jack Tom, Cathy Vanaria, Leslie Cober-Gentry, Sabrina Marques, Darby Cardonsky and Ed Little. Throughout both undergraduate and graduate school, these professors have gone above and beyond to offer me guidance and instruction, and to humor me when I would approach them with some crazy ideas for projects. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.”

Asked what he will remember most about his WestConn experience, Navarra says, “My M.F.A. thesis show was my most memorable experience. It was the culmination of two years of intense study and execution of an idea I’d been working on since my Undergraduate Show.”

After graduation, Navarra says, “I plan to become a freelance illustrator and pursue part-time work in teaching.”

His advice to new students entering WCSU is: “Your college experience is what you decide it will be. Apply yourself and study what you’re passionate about, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and take leadership roles. You never know what you can bring to the table that others haven’t thought of.”