What Does QCA mean to Naomi?

Describe your involvement in QCA. What have you participated in?

The summer after I finished junior year in high school, I applied and got accepted into the HS2AS summer program. Four days a week, from 10am to 4pm, with a fair commute and enough homework to keep us busy, the program was intensive and detailed. Coming home with ink-stained fingers and covered head to toe in charcoal, it was one of the most eventful summers I’ve had. After the summer program, I continued my time with HS2AS by enrolling in their fall program, which was aimed specifically towards seniors in high school and went into more details of the college application process and finalizing our portfolios. Earlier this year I was contacted by Won Cha, the program coordinator of HS2AS—and my former teacher— asking if I was interested in interning with the HS2AS program. Being able to be involved with HS2AS on another level, I am excited to give back and be a part of the program that gave me so much.

How has QCA helped you grow both professionally and personally?

While applying to colleges I was a recipient of a full-tuition scholarship at St. John’s University, as well as gained many other scholarships to different universities and outside sources. A lot of my success I credit back to the HS2AS program. Not only did they prepare me with a stronger drawing skill set, but also helped me find the words to more efficiently explain my art. HS2AS motivated me to really pursue arts. It taught me to work hard, but also take time to step back and edit. We were treated like professional young adults and were expected to create work and respond worthily of that standard.

Personally, HS2AS not only left me with a better portfolio of work, but also friends, newfound opportunities, and an expanded mind in all aspects of life. Before Hs2as, I thought I already had a good hold on everything I needed to know about art and about myself. Hs2as graciously proved me wrong and taught me things I had never even thought of or even questioned before. It was an eye-opener to always question and to always continue to learn.

Can you describe a QCA highlight?

The last HS2AS class of the fall session. Everyone in the class was a senior in high school and we all had finished most of our applications and had some idea of where we were going to attend college. The class gave me a new sense of community that was created with the most unexpected and different of people. I didn’t know my classmates for more than a year, but it felt like we’d been working an immeasurable time together. And in a sense we had. Paper and charcoal were consumed, tears were shed, deadlines were met, laughter was abundant, and hours upon hours of work were spent inside and outside the classroom. It was the last class, but it was also a time where we were able to take a breath and realize, ‘Hey, we made it.’

Is there anything you’d like to see more of in QCA?

I would like to see a stronger student-alumni connection. Knowing that so many of the HS2AS members are successful students, getting into some of the top art schools around the country, it would be encouraging and fun to get to know them better. I grew to be quite close with my fellow classmates of my specific year in HS2AS, and it would be great if I could expand that circle.

You don’t live in Queens, but you spend much time here. What is it that draws you in?

Especially within the past year, more and more of my life is beginning to revolve around Queens. I consistently bounce between Long Island, Manhattan, and Queens. However, Manhattan is for when I feel adventurous and fast paced. Long Island is where I live and is quiet at night. Queens is where I can get the in-between: a place for adventure and to explore diversity, but also a place where I can rest my head and gain something that is more personalized by the neighborhood of people who live there.

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