Sophia Ruiz

At an open house event on campus for prospective high school students, Sophia Ruiz ’20 met Visual Arts assistant professor Robby Gilbert. She was impressed with his knowledge and the art programs. 

Professor Gilbert convinced her to choose the Lyndon campus. “He offers a lot of insight from his experiences … and is well-known in the industry for making cartoons. He has a lot of stories students like to hear and insights we appreciate,” says Sophia, who is majoring in animation and illustration with a game design concentration. 

During her time on campus, Sophia has developed marketable skills working with Professor Gilbert and other Visual Arts faculty who are widely respected in the field. Professor Gilbert introduced her to one of her favorite art techniques: stop-motion animation with origami. “I fell in love with that. It is so fun,” she says. “Professor Gilbert really encourages you to try new things.” 

Preparation for Real-world Success 

With the game design concentration, she is able to combine her interests in art and games in a creative way. “I love the artistic side of game design, and I want to incorporate that into what I do,” says Sophia, who plans to work at a game studio after she graduates. “Game design is a growing field, and it’s cool because there’s a lot of experimentation going on.” 

Lyndon’s animation and illustration program has given Sophia many hands-on opportunities, including creating animation on a computer. “That’s what you’d do in an animation studio,” she says. In a team project with students in her animation workshop class, she worked on the background art for a point-and-click logic puzzle game. 

She also has learned how to prepare for job interviews and present work to clients. 

Opportunities to Build Relevant Career Skills 

In addition to job-relevant classes in her major, Sophia has developed important, well-rounded competencies for her career in other courses. A coding class will help her learn to design her own website. In English classes, she has gained writing and storytelling skills, which she’ll need in game design. 

Sophia has had valuable experiences building communication and leadership skills outside of academics, too. 

As a peer leader, she is involved in fall orientation for first-year students. She meets with a group of students regularly throughout the year to help them get any academic support or other resources they need. “I’ve become more sure of my decisions in addition to helping other people,” says Sophia, who’s from Castleton. 

A Close-Knit Community Among Students and Faculty 

“My first group of students actually started calling me ‘Mom’ after a while. I really liked that. It let me know I’ve made a connection with them,” she says. “That family feeling is definitely something I wouldn’t get at a larger school.” 

The tight-knit community is one of many reasons Sophia chose the Lyndon campus. “It has a very hometown feel,” she says. “You all just hang out and connect with each other. It’s great.” 

The small classes allow students to connect with faculty, too. 

“You get to know your professors, and I really appreciate that because that way, they understand how you learn best and find out what you want to do,” Sophia says. “You’re not just another face in a lecture hall.”