Creating Her Own Worlds: Sophia’s Story

Apr 22, 2024

Sophia had always been an academic high achiever, but her true passion was for art and design—specifically, in the virtual worlds that artists create for video games. “Growing up, I was always focused on getting perfect grades and taking Honors classes, but I had really internalized the message that video game design was someone else’s job. Even though I loved games and was fascinated with environmental design, I thought success meant I had to become a lawyer or have a more traditional career.”

After moving to Washington from California to start college, Sophia felt adrift and disconnected from her studies—and she felt the absence of a supportive community where she could truly belong. She stepped away from school and took a series of jobs to pay the bills as she tried to find her path. “During this time, I was constantly on edge,” she remembers. “I was never able to settle in and feel safe. Art became my refuge; I would cope by sketching and drawing as much as possible.”

Sophia discovered DigiPen Institute of Technology and the WWIN Star Scholarship in quick succession. At DigiPen, she found what she had been missing: the opportunity to pursue a college degree in video game design and become a professional artist. She also felt like she had come home in a community of other designers. “At DigiPen, I found my people. We just get along well, we think similarly and I understand them. The sense of community is huge for me—it’s something I didn’t have for a long time.”

WWIN brought financial relief and deepened Sophia’s sense of belonging among other women who were pursuing nontraditional paths or entering male-dominated industries like game design.

“Meeting other Star Scholars has been incredible. This scholarship is why I’m able to go to DigiPen—because I’m unable to take out loans, without WWIN I wouldn’t be able to pay tuition or my living expenses. It’s amazing that there is an organization that sees those of us who have been through hard times and wants to help us. It’s huge—I wouldn’t be able to keep improving my life without it.”

Sophia is thriving in her new career, quickly advancing to become one of the best 3D modeling designers in her class. She is poised to take on increasing responsibility and ultimately a leadership role in environmental design for video games —and she envisions opening her own studio one day.

Reflecting on her experience as a Star Scholar, Sophia encourages other women to dream big and to reach out when they need help. “I feel like sometimes people don’t try things because they don’t think they deserve it. I just want other people to know that they do deserve help and it’s okay to ask for it. There is a community that wants to help you succeed.”

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