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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Student Spotlight: Cindy Zhou, Commercial Art

May was Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  EASTERN celebrated by interviewing students of Asian heritage who are leaders in their programs and recent award winners at EASTERN’s Annual Awards Night held in late May.  Today, we spotlight Cindy Zhou, a first-year student in EASTERN’s Commercial Art program and a junior at Upper Moreland High School.

Cindy’s parents were born in China, and much of her family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, still live there. Cindy attended school in Philadelphia until moving to Upper Moreland in 7th grade. Earlier in her life, she spent a lot of time in China visiting family.

Cindy is proud of her Chinese heritage, and she feels comfortable speaking to her EASTERN classmates and teachers about her culture without judgment. This type of discussion occurs all year round for Cindy – not just during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cindy has been a huge fan of Japanese animation since she was a child watching productions by Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation film studio best known for its animated feature films, and has also produced several short subjects, television commercials, and two television films. Its mascot and most recognizable symbol is a character named Totoro, a giant catlike spirit from the 1988 anime film My Neighbor Totoro. “I was inspired by the animation, and wanted to create that kind of art,” said Cindy.

Cindy chose Commercial Art at EASTERN because she felt it offered her an opportunity to learn about art in a way that could prepare her for a career.  “My teachers are great,” said Cindy.  “Through Commercial Art, I learned how to successfully work with other people. I now feel more comfortable showing others my personality, and my confidence has grown. My advice to any student thinking about attending a program at EASTERN is to learn and develop a skill before going right to work or into a specific college program.  You may find out that it is a great fit for you – or that it isn’t.  It is a life-changing experience.”

Next year, after graduation from Upper Moreland High School and EASTERN, Cindy plans to attend postsecondary school for animation.  She is currently considering Carnegie Mellon University, Rhode Island School of Design, and California Institute of the Arts.