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From undecided to promising path: Graphic design student on her way to creative career

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Ally Thao - Design and Graphic Technology Student

Ally Thao

Design and Graphic Technology Student

Thinking about her career goals, NWTC student Ally Thao knows one thing for sure.

“I only wish to love what I do,” she said. “I don't want to reach a point in my life where I have no passion for my profession.”

Also mindful of her personal growth, Thao is taking steps toward self-acceptance. “I believe that the greatest act of love is learning to love and forgive others,” she said. “Without trying to accept and love myself first, how can I ever hope to love those around me?”

Thao’s professional and personal clarity didn’t come easily. In fact, during high school, she struggled to picture her college and career path.

“When I entered high school, it was a bit disheartening to see all my friends choosing colleges and careers that matched their personality and skills so well: a pilot, a nurse, a chemist, and so many other wonderful careers that I could never even imagine going to school for,” she said.

“And so, I became the ‘undecided’ student who joined a local university simply to please my mother and to join in on the race of adulthood,” she continued.

Now on her way to a creative career, Thao is in her first year of the Design and Graphic Technology associate degree and is working as the social media assistant in the NWTC Marketing Department. Her primary responsibilities are planning and posting content for the College’s Instagram account.

She is often seen around the Green Bay campus with a camera in hand, ready to capture the moment and talk to her fellow students. Now, it’s time to turn the spotlight on Thao herself.

My academic journey

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a hard time picking my “grown-up” job.

I always had many interests and hobbies, but I don’t have a definite skill I am confident in. And although I don’t believe you need certain accomplishments or skills when it comes to choosing a field of work, it helps.

When I was at the university, I was confused on why everyone around me knew what they were doing and how I was still struggling to decide – even after a year and a half of going to school. After failing a few classes, losing any motivation I had to keep going to school, and constantly feeling overworked as a full-time student and worker, I knew my body would eventually fail me if I kept going on this path.

So, I took a break.

I took the fall semester of 2022 off, and it was the best choice I had made in my entire academic journey. It gave me time to clear my head and really think about what I wanted for my future.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2023. I was happy to be going back to school. I chose to attend NWTC not only because my close friend recommended it to me, but because I saw how NWTC truly cares for each student.

At the university, it was a very jarring and lonely experience not having an adult there I could depend on when I was fresh out of high school and knew little to nothing about college. So, when I reached out to an NWTC counselor who was immediately kind and helpful, it was like a breath of fresh air. I was so grateful that I was being treated like an individual.

Professional and personal goals

I know I want my future profession to be in an environment where I can be openly creative and surrounded by caring people who truly love their work. A place where there is flexibility and room for me to grow my own skills.

What really drew me into this field of work is that there is no definite job you’re confined to. Once you become a graphic designer, you can choose to learn skills needed to become a videographer, photographer, social media manager, and so much more. This career comes with so many freedoms that I believe will really allow my true potential to shine.

When it comes to goals in my professional life, I only wish to love what I do. I don't want to reach a point in my life where I have no passion for my profession, because I know that unhappiness and misery will eventually spread to other parts of my life.

If what I love to do leads me down a different career later in life, then that path is a new journey I’ll gladly embark on!

As for goals in my personal life, my biggest goal, that I work on each day, is to treat myself with compassion and kindness. There are so many complexities that one human being holds – past experiences, feelings, how their choices led them to where they currently are, and so much more. Although I may never truly understand myself, I believe the greatest act of love is learning to love and forgive others.

Without trying to accept and love myself first, how can I ever hope to love those around me? 

My NWTC experience

The main thing that surprised me when I first came to NWTC was the amount of care and investment NWTC puts into their students. There are so many free services for students! I had never even seen a thing like Campus Care or a whole separate department for Disability and Counseling Services. I love that NWTC offers all of this to their students because to me, it really shows that they’re willing to invest in you and your future.

Enroll in a technical college to really get a feel for college life and if it’s for you. Then after a few years, transfer over to a university if that’s your goal. During those adjustment years at a technical college, you have so much more freedom that you wouldn’t get at a university.

NWTC cares and invests in their students, so have confidence in yourself and know that should you ever need a helping hand, NWTC has got your back!



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