While 2020 hasn’t been easy for anyone, it’s been especially hard on those graduating from high school and college. They had to finish their academic years online and missed out on graduation ceremonies. Plus, in the case of college grads, they’re facing unprecedented challenges as they enter the workforce. Which is all the more reason to celebrate the drive and tenacity of four ESA Foundation scholars, in particular, this year. They recently graduated from game dev programs at topnotch colleges and universities, and despite the uncertainties we all face, they’re looking forward to what comes next.
“The class of 2020 is a truly special group of people,” says Anastasia Staten, executive director of the ESA Foundation. “They’ve had to endure uncertainties that no one could have imagined. We are so proud of this year’s graduating ESA Foundation scholars, and I have confidence they’ll use what they’ve learned and experienced to make this a better world.”
The graduates’ backgrounds and future plans run the gamut, but one thing they have in common is a passion for video games and the technology that powers immersive experiences. Here they are, sharing their thoughts on subjects ranging from education to the Foundation to the future:
“I didn’t want to play it safe: I knew I wanted to make video games. To be both a minority and a woman in the games industry would be an achievement not only for myself, but for other minorities, and especially women hoping to be in an interactive creative field. I’m the oldest child in my family and the first to graduate from college. I didn’t graduate just for myself, but also for them. Being in a traditional Filipino family, where the culture says it’s safer to enter the medical field, I took a risk and deviated from the norm to do what I love. I want to show it’s possible to be in the industry despite who you are.”
“Having lived an introverted childhood, I turned to video games to entertain my curious mind. A lifelong personal goal is to mimic the same feeling I had and provide it for other young and curious minds. Thanks, in part, to the ESA Foundation, I was able to finish up my studies at Drexel, which is proof of the culmination of my academic and social efforts and learning more about myself. I now plan to level up my art foundation skills through online resources, but my goal is to move out to the Los Angeles area to attend Concept Design Academy in Pasadena and/or Brainstorm School in Burbank while finding a 2D Artist job in games.”
“The Last of Us was my favorite game growing up. It had such cinematic brilliance, I was inspired to create impactful stories within my games. Seeing Game AI as a narrative device deeply inspired me to pursue pushing the boundary of what is possible. The ESA Foundation Scholarship made the difference between taking out more high-interest loans for college or not. It also allowed me to attend industry events and network. Now I can engage in my dream of making games for a living. I recently started a new job that’s an amazing fit for my passion. It’s at Treyarch, the maker of Call of Duty, as an associate software engineer. I’m on a team specializing in Game AI.”
“My journey began as an animator, and through internship opportunities and connections with the ESA Foundation, I’ve been able to explore all of my capabilities and discover my passion for Augmented Reality. I hope to build a career on the forefront of technology advancements. Right now, I continue to work with AR in a full-time position at Lockheed Martin, and I intend to start grad school within the year for a modeling and simulation degree.”