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Graduates in the Spotlight : 2019 Graduates in the Spotlight

Rachel Rossier

image of Rachel RossierHOMETOWN: New London, Connecticut

MAJOR: Illustration and Painting

MINOR: Psychology

WCSU DEGREE: Bachelor of Art in Art

ACTIVITIES: Administrative assistant for the Kathwari Honors Program since freshmen year, working to recruit professors and collaborate with them to develop new courses for the program; started and currently co-chair of the Honors Course Committee with Nathan Walker; served as a student representative on the Honors Council alongside Nathan Walker and Samuel Cournoyer; served as a teaching assistant for both Professor Jack Tom and Dr. Kukk; TAed for Dr. Kukk along with Erica Bower; co-founded Zine Club with Phoebe Hart, and served as president for a year; volunteered as a mentor and workshop presenter for Peacejam and designed their commemorative poster; involved with HSOC, the Honors Students of Compassion; chaired the Compassion Based Book Club freshman and sophomore year, and served as a senator for SGA

INTERNSHIPS: Through the Hancock Student Leadership Program, shadowed Dean Brian Vernon, of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, and “gained a very deep appreciation for all of the administrators and staff who collaborate to create so many opportunities for students.”

HONORS AND AWARDS: 4.0 culmulitive GPA; Presidential Merit Scholarship and Alumni Association Scholarship recipient; Dean’s List and Kathwari Honors Program Outstanding Scholars List every semester; Hancock Student Leadership Program during junior year; Excellence in Illustration Award from the Art Department; Dean’s Award from the School of Visual and Performing Arts; WCSU/AAUP Steven A. Ward Student Leadership Award, 2019

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Rachel Rossier has lived in Norwich, North Stonington, Preston and New London, Connecticut, as well as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. “Since becoming integrated into such a compassionate community at WCSU,” she says, “Danbury has felt like my hometown!”

Rossier says she came to WCSU because “I fell in love with the Kathwari Honors Program and the Art Department. I was deeply inspired by Dr. Chris Kukk and all of the amazing students he had previously mentored, including Jess Lin, Alexis Koukos and Victor Namer. I have infinite respect for these people. I was also deeply moved by the kindness of the faculty within the art department. When I visited as a senior in high school, Professors Catherine Vanaria, Jack Tom and Ken Scaglia, and Lori Robeau were all very generous with their time as they answered my questions and informed me of all the opportunities that the art department has to offer. They were all very passionate and very caring.”

There are students who know what they want to study, and there are students who are passionate about what they want to do in life. And then there’s Rossier: “I love art! I love learning how other people see and experience the world, and I love sharing my own experiences with others. I love how art has the power to make invisible experiences visible. Art helps us empathize with others and better understand ourselves. By illustrating psychological experiences, I hope to instill others with a deeper sense of compassion for those who suffer from unseen pain. By painting portraits of the people I care about, I hope to show them that they are beautiful and intrinsically, unfathomably valuable. Art cultivates a deep sensitivity to beauty, and it enables us to see the magic in the mundane. By learning to carefully and patiently observe the world around me, my everyday experiences have become so much richer. I notice beautiful highlights and intriguing shadows cast by simple objects. Color excites me! I am so thankful to all of the teachers who have provided me with these gifts, and it is my sincerest hope to become an art professor so that I may pass these gifts along to others.”

Rossier says she’s been fortunate to have been impacted by many while at WCSU. “I am so grateful for the phenomenal mentors I have had the honor of working with. Dr. Christopher Kukk is a real-life superhero. He works tirelessly and enthusiastically in support of his students. He has taught me so much about the social neuroscience of education, so much about teaching, and most importantly, he has taught me about being a compassionate person, even in the face of adversity. He always makes time to help his students, and he has created a compassionate community in which we are all excited to share ideas and combine our disciplines. He cultivated the community in which I have developed some of the deepest friendships I have ever had. Professor Jack Tom has taught me everything I know about illustration. He has been extremely encouraging and patient, and he has generously connected me with paid illustration projects. His generosity, kindness and support have helped me become a confident aspiring illustrator. Professor Sabrina Marques taught me to paint. She has helped me grow immeasurably as an artist and a person. She inspires me with her enthusiasm, her authenticity, her playful creativity, her skill and her genuine care for all of her students. Like Dr. Kukk, she is amazing at cultivating a compassionate community within the classroom. She has challenged me and encouraged me, and she is the reason I dream of becoming an art professor. Jess Lin, the assistant director of the Kathwari Honors Program, has become a big sister to me. She has the strongest work ethic I have ever seen, and the biggest heart. I admire her more than I can express; I hope to become half the woman she is.”

Asked what she will remember most about her WCSU experience, Rossier says, “My most memorable experience has been meeting my best friend, Sarah Hoegler. She is one of the sincerest, kindest, most intelligent and most admirable people I know. She is the reason I encountered Catholicism, which has become the most important part of my life. She has always been extremely supportive, and she always inspires me to become the best person I can be. Her friendship immeasurably changed my life for the better.”

After graduation, Rossier says, “I plan on pursuing a Master’s of Fine Art in hopes of ultimately becoming an art professor. I have been accepted into the MFA program at WCSU, and I am privileged to have this opportunity!”

Her advice to new students entering WCSU is: “I would advise incoming freshmen to find something they love, and to share it with as many people as possible! I have found that by pursuing my passions and by inviting others to participate in my passions, I have developed some of the most beautiful relationships. I would also encourage incoming freshmen to open themselves up to participating in their peers’ passions. My best friend majored in psychology, and now I am minoring in psychology because she shared that passion with me! If you find something good, true or beautiful, pursue it and share it with others.”