Student Spotlight: Lisa Sheffield, In Her Own Words
At the start of my journey, I worked on campus at the School of Law and the Institute for Research in Social Science (now called The Odum Institute). I was an editorial assistant, and I created their first department website in the mid 1990s, which was great fun. I got to learn about HTML tags and Photoshop.
Once I married, I put my college education on hold to raise my son and focus on family. When I returned to work on UNC’s campus, it was at the School of Government as a program manager. I also returned to the classroom. There were times when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wasn’t sure what to major in. Melissa Solomon, one of my advisors at the Friday Center, asked me what I would like to study, and without hesitation, I told her art. Art and photography have always been my passions. Melissa told me she would dance across the stage when I graduated. More than likely, she thought she would be retired by the time that happened!
When I finally became a senior, I transferred to the College of Art and Sciences. Melissa referred me to a senior advisor, Ken Shugart, who was a tremendous assistance in pushing me through to the finish line. After reviewing my transcript, he recommended that I pursue a degree in Communications. This worked out well since many of my jobs over the years have been in Communications. I took his advice and decided to pursue art outside of college and work.
Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, UNC sent employees and students home to work, and classes transitioned completely online. While I was working from home, I enrolled in two online classes each semester for 14 months. Time management and supportive professors were both key to balancing my job and studies. I made a goal to do something positive during the pandemic. I kept thinking of the mantra, “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Today, I am thanking myself and celebrating my achievement! One of my favorite quotes from Vincent Van Gogh gave me inspiration to keep going: “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” This was true for me as I took classes part-time, one by one, and built them into the culmination of my degree.
During my last year at Carolina, I made straight A’s, which was not always the case in the early days when I wasn’t sure which degree path to take. I took a lot of art history and psychology classes, as well as a few journalism classes in photography, marketing, and graphic design. Because the classes transitioned online in 2020 and became more accessible to me, I was able to graduate in August 2021 with a B.A. in Communication with a concentration in Media and Technology Studies and Production and a minor in Art History.
Post-graduation, I plan to take a break before applying to a master’s program. Meanwhile, I’ll continue immersing myself in art, photography, and painting, and I want to study Adobe Illustrator. My goal is to transform my art into fabric and wallpaper. Much like art, Carolina has been a perpetual learning experience, a cerulean blue thread throughout my life as an artist and now an alumna. I plan to continue weaving the threads using storytelling in my paintings and incorporating my interests from my previous associate degree in fashion merchandising and marketing to design fabric and wallpaper.
My hope is to be a positive influence and encourage someone who is reading this to return to college, persevere along life’s journey, and graduate. Recently, I heard of a grandmother who left a letter to her great granddaughters. The letter said, “Do not worry about failing. You either win or you learn. You never lose.” What great advice!