Student Spotlight: Jessica Corujo C’20 – Student Employee of the Year!

Jessica Corujo C’20

 What attracted you to Drew?

I was most drawn to the NYC Semester on Contemporary Art. I was accepted into many art schools, but heard great things about Drew and ultimately made the decision to study at a liberal arts university with connections to New York City.

Did you know what you wanted to major in your first year?

Yes, I was a studio art major since 2014 when I started classes at the Academy of Art University. Along the way I have picked up other degrees and certificates as well, but I never strayed from my initial path of wanting to pursue a degree in the arts.

What is it about studio art that draws you to it?

I love the flexibility and creativity that goes into an art degree. The people you work with and are mentored by each have their own unique experience which informs their practice. Being a part of that constantly evolving energy is inspiring. There are so many applications that people may be quick to overlook, but art is all around. The most exciting part of my job is bringing that element of creative problem-solving to the table.

A working space, 2019, Watercolor Pencil and Ink on Paper

A living room, 2020, Watercolor Pencil and Ink on Paper

A basement with a single window, 2020, Watercolor Pencil and Ink on Paper

A storage container, 2019, Watercolor Pencil and Ink on Paper

Have you done any internships?

I did a practicum through Drew in event planning and promotion at the United Methodist Archives and History Center. I designed promotional content based on archival collections and was responsible for media and vendor outreach. Through my efforts I was able to increase attendance at our events. This position led to my winning the 2020 Drew University Student Employee of the Year award, which then led to my winning the State of NJ Student Employee of the Year award. I am grateful that my supervisor thought so highly of my work that she nominated me and I am also honored to win the state honors.

 I also did an unpaid internship for Sussex County Community College, as an assistant to the director for the Sussex County Teen Arts festival. Before and during my time at Drew I had internships in interior design and as a studio assistant for an NJ based artist.

 Have you done any NYC, short or longTRECs?

I did two nycTRECs – Semester on Museums and Cultural Management, and the Semester on Contemporary Art. These are my two favorite classes from all of the four colleges I attended. Both classes made me feel connected with a wider scope of the world and left me with invaluable experience. In Semester on Museums and Cultural Management (formerly Museums and Society), I visited more museums in a semester than I had in the last 22 years of my life. In the Semester on Contemporary Art, I had the opportunity to learn from and network with curators, artists, researchers, writers, studio assistants, publicists, along with so many other workers who live day to day in the seemingly impenetrable ‘art world’. The reading and class discussions that accompanied these visits gave me a critically informed view of everything we saw and ultimately left me feeling like an active part of this contemporary world which I will now graduate and contribute to.

Did you have any mentors at Drew?

I’ve had so many incredible professors at Drew. In art history, Prof. Rita Keane encouraged me to be confident in my art history knowledge, Prof. Kim Rhodes pushed me to strive for accurate and effective research, and Prof. Peggy Kuntz allowed me the flexibility and creativity to apply what I learn to everyday life.

In studio art, Prof. Jason Karolak united both historical and contemporary artists with my own practice, illuminating the conversation. Prof. Raymond Stein taught me about the time dedication it takes to be a real, working artist.  Prof. Katie Bell reinforced the idea that a strong network and simple kind gestures are more valuable than anything money can buy. Prof. Rebecca Soderholm helped me to refine my presence, and Prof. Lee Arnold showed me that it’s never a matter of what other people perceive on the surface, but rather how deep and truthful your experience resonates when all other expectations are put aside.

Along with professors, I also have the library staff to thank for my experience at Drew. Danielle Reay has been a role model for me as somebody who blends quantitative and qualitative thinking perfectly. She is incredibly smart and diverse, and constantly goes out of her way to go the extra mile for her students. Candace Reilly and Brian Shetler have been the best bosses I could have asked for. They always made me feel like a part of the team and gave me the creative freedom to build projects that I will use in my portfolio for years to come. I have always felt like I had a voice in the Archives, and that the work I was doing was meaningful. The two of them truly make an incredible duo, and together have given me an unbelievably high model for teamwork, academic/creative integration, and stimulating workplace environments.

What world issue(s) are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about people. It makes me happy to see people discovering themselves and finding what drives them. I think it’s really important, for young people especially, to be given tools for creativity, even if that is just a pen and some paper, or drumsticks.

I also believe in creating outlets to discuss mental health. I think of all the health concerns, people as a whole are least aware of mental well-being because it’s not readily visible, but I would like to live in a world where people not only understand how to keep their physical bodies maintained, but also understand their mental maintenance.

What are some of your favorite memories of Drew over the last 4 years?

My favorite memories include participating in the nycTREC experiences and the Senior Studio, having those unique experiential classes, and building a community with the artists of my class.

What are your career goals? Dream job? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

My next step is to move to NYC, but that’s a hard question because it will depend so much on the opportunities which arise as I come out of college. My philosophy is that opportunities come up all the time, and it is my job to pursue the ones that speak to me the most. By picking these opportunities based on my interests, with the end goal of having an artistic job in mind, I will eventually build up enough skills to do something really cool and unique. In short, I have no dream job because it is probably a job that I don’t even know exists yet. As for career goals, I want to be happy and free to have a creative voice. I can’t predict the next five years, but I can guarantee whatever I am doing will be preparing me for my next greatest experience.

Are there any hobbies, activities, or fun facts you would like to share?

I cook all the time. I am super passionate about preparing a meal from scratch and hosting the people I love to enjoy it with me. I also sing, not professionally, but I come from a musical family and when no one is around I freestyle on piano and with my voice.

What advice would you give first-year students?

I would tell them to trust their gut, and do their best to be flexible. Life will not always go as planned, honestly it’s rare when it does. When something gets in the way of your goal it doesn’t mean that your plan is ruined, it just means you need to use some creative problem-solving to get to the finish line. The obstacles you face will only diversify you and strengthen your resilience.

“Annmarie” oil painting by Jessica Corujo (2013-2014)

Instagram: its_just_jessica



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