Whether she’s counseling first-year students, making animated films about the pandemic, or interning at a local museum, May Wang is not afraid of stepping outside her comfort zone.
As a senior majoring in communication design in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, May plans to continue stretching and growing post-graduation. She sees herself leading a multi-faceted, creative career: “I’d love to have a career in illustration, where maybe I’m illustrating my own stories and designing the book for it,” she says. “Or maybe I’m working with people and designing movie posters, and then I’ll apply my film background. I’m really trying to find a way to combine all of my interests. Recently I completed two projects where everything I am learning in both majors finally started to click. I drew these huge lifestyle portraits in charcoal—I was standing on chairs and tables! And I made a short animated film based on short stories I wrote during the pandemic about feelings of disconnection and estrangement.”
A Chicago native, May first connected with Washington University during National Portfolio Day at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an event where students of all ages receive reviews of their artwork. Her positive encounters that day led her to participate in the Sam Fox School Portfolio Plus Program, whose talented and accomplished faculty leaders cinched her decision to apply and enroll at WashU.
But without the support of the Nancy Field Wilson Scholarship, she would not have been able to fulfill her dream of attending the university. While May’s parents help with the cost of her education, her scholarship makes all the difference in alleviating financial pressures and enabling her to enjoy and make the most of her college experience.
[My scholarship] changes everything. … It means I am also able to have a social life, to do things with friends, and to get involved in clubs like the Chinese Student Association and WashU’s chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.May Wang
“It changes everything,” she says. “It suddenly means I’m not saving up to meet a tight food budget and study in class; it means I am also able to have a social life, to do things with friends, and to get involved in clubs like the Chinese Student Association and WashU’s chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
In fact, some of May’s most valued experiences at WashU have taken place outside the classroom. Simply sharing living space with a diverse group of people who are all intensely passionate about their education has been transformational, she says.
“Aside from my classes, the community of WashU has definitely been the best aspect of my experience here,” she says. “It’s the benefit of being in a community where everyone is inclusive and educationally minded. People really care about bettering themselves. I’ve met people who read science textbooks for fun and people who are chess champions. I don’t have a single friend who isn’t excited about what they’re studying.”
May has channeled her appreciation for WashU’s tight-knit community into service, doing her part to ensure that other students feel similarly included and supported. In her role as a student associate, she has provided guidance to a group of 17 first-year students, functioning as a kind of informal resident adviser. May has counseled these students on social issues, academics, and course registration, even serving as a point person for some of their parents.
She also has found ways to get involved with the broader St. Louis community. As an intern with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, she is helping to advance the museum’s mission of fostering dynamic experiences with art by designing her own 50-minute gallery tour for the museum’s latest retrospective exhibition.
These experiences, coupled with all that she is learning in the classroom, have taught May to embrace challenges and intentionally step outside of her comfort zone. She explains, “As I’ve thrown myself into all these new things, I’ve become more comfortable with being uncomfortable—not just in an academic sense, but in a professional sense.”
You can help creative and curious students like May pursue their passions and discover new talents with a gift of any amount in support of WashU undergraduate scholarships.