The line from young child to old human is not a straight one. It’s a path that weaves and zags. It intersects with others and sometimes switches back on itself. Ricardo Cortez ’07 thought he knew his way. As a kid, he’d been on the Mission campus for math and engineering camps. When he arrived as a first-year undergrad, that’s what Cortez thought he wanted to study—math and engineering.
But for all that we think we know, there’s often something extraordinary we don’t. Cortez struggled that first year at SCU. “It was the first time in my life I was getting D’s and F’s,” Cortez says. He was trying, “but I was completely lost. You feel bad telling your parents. They wonder what’s going on. They ask, ‘What are you doing?’”
It was an academic advisor who saw the thing Cortez didn’t. They asked a few questions and realized that Cortez had a different passion. “They told me, ‘Why don’t you take this design class and just see how you feel about it.’” Cortez found his thing: art.
In one class, student artists made paper statutes using materials from Spain. It sparked in Cortez the ability to see art in more places, made out of more things, imagining what could be. Out of class, he took his work home, where his friends dug into the pieces and saw their own Chicano culture reflected in art. It became a thriving feedback loop.