by Catalina Rojas
Mercy Salinas is a junior at JPCatholic studying 3D animation. Her decision to come study at JPCatholic was not an easy one, but the close proximity to her family and the university’s familial community is what influenced her to stay.
When Mercy was in the process of applying to colleges, her heart had been set on a university in Utah. She was offered a full ride, so she felt that the decision had been made for her, there was nothing left for her to do. But that changed when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She sacrificed the full ride offer and decided to stay and study in California. Mercy said she doesn’t regret her decision at all. “I’ve had a lot more opportunities here than I would have at another university,” she explained.
What originally brought Mercy to JPCatholic was the scholarship offer. Being a part of a family of five, having financial aid was a must. However, once she began attending classes, it was the community at JPCatholic that secured her decision. “I realized it’s a more of a community, we’re trying to learn and grow together,” she commented. “It’s what made me stay around. We’re like a family.”
Coming from a public school that had a much bigger student population, the community here provided a much more comfortable and welcoming educational environment for Mercy. The less dense population has given Mercy the opportunity to have more meaningful connections with not just her peers, but instructors as well. She really felt there was a lack of one-on-one connection at her old school. “Once I was here, that played a big role in me staying, also the Catholic identity the school has drew me in. It was the money at first, but then it was my faith, because I really wanted to grow and since being here I have grown.”
Mercy confesses animation was not her first or second choice to major in. “My original plan had nothing to do with because I actually hated it. My original plan was between math, political science, or psychology, but I really loved math,” she added. Mercy picked 3D animation because she thought she’d like the mechanical side of it. She struggled to learn the unfamiliar software at first. Much to her surprise, she fell in love with it.
Mercy faced a major hurdle in the Winter of 2018 and took a quarter off to have knee surgery. Recovery was difficult and taxing on her mental and physical health. “I couldn’t walk for six weeks. When I was awake I was pain,” she said. Regardless, during her recovery she continued to study and completed an independent study for organic modeling. She kept at it and over the last year has made great strides in her knowledge with 3D modeling.
When thinking about her career in the future, Mercy is planning on staying away from big name companies. Mercy, not being one to conform to set molds, believes working for a big company name would be too restrictive. She enjoys her artistic freedom and hopes to intern and hopefully become a part of smaller scale team. Much like the community here at JPCatholic where connections are genuine, she wants to find a work environment that allows for the same connections to be created. Working at a smaller studio or company would allow for more creative flexibility and would offer more opportunities to be innovative.
Featured Image by Rebecca Knebelsberger