Maj Jenkins Testimonial
August 22, 2022 | Posted in: Scholarships | Testimonials | PGSF Blogs
Dear Ms. Bernie Eckert,
I wanted to thank you and share with you the celebratory news that I
graduated from the University of San Francisco Summa Cum Laude last
week with a Bachelor of Arts in Design and a completed minor in Classical
Studies. Without your support, I could not have made it here.
It has meant so much to me to be part of a critically-thinking, intellectual,
and forward environment for the past four years. The people I have met and
the experiences I have had while at USF have shaped me into a designer
and artist ready to meet the world.
During my education here, I have discovered interests both within and
outside of the design world that I previously could not have fathomed. In my
major field, I have found passions in new media art, design for social
change, exhibition and installation design, and project management, and
my minor field has opened me up to the worlds of literature, history, and
My life has not only been enriched with learning, but being around others
who share my passions. My professors have become mentors and
supporters as they have inspired and guided me. My peers have become
friends and allies as we dealt with the demands of college. Furthermore, I
feel like I have truly become part of the USF community and a valued
member of my department. The environment has rewarded me with a
positive and encouraging workspace.
The class of Spring 2022 is the first to return to in-person graduation at
USF. Additionally, my cohort in the design program is the first to return to
having an in-person senior exhibition for our thesis projects. These are
projects on specific, individually-chosen topics that design and fine arts
students spend the semester researching, investigating, and creating
We opened the show on Thursday, May 19th, and had a wonderful
reception led by our professor Carrie Hott. Over 30 graduating seniors
featured their work in the show, including myself.
I have always considered the senior show a coming-of-age tradition of
design majors at USF; as a freshman and sophomore I saw the seniors
work tirelessly on their thesis projects, as a junior I saw the senior shows
organized over online learning. It was an honor to be part of the tradition
and participate in the exhibition with my cohort.
The title we decided on for the show was “RECONNECTING…” as a
common thread our projects embodied was the personal reconnection with
oneself, one another, and one’s community in the time of returning to
in-person learning and living.
My thesis project, titled Nobody, is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey that
explores how patriarchal structures shape familial relationships and
examines how storytelling can be used as a tool to close emotional
distance between parents and children.
For my project, I worked in multiple mediums — I created an illustrated
book which I printed and handbound, I coded and illustrated an augmented
reality component, and I designed and cut tables using the laser cutter from
the engineering department at my university.
It was a challenging and rewarding experience as my project required me to
link multiple worlds of my own with one another; my personal interests from
my life and familial experiences with my academic interests from the literary
canon, my simplicity-focused design major with my complexity-focused
classical studies minor, and my commitment to visual work as well as deep
storytelling. It was a very detailed and thorough project with many
components, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.
In the next few weeks, I will have updated my portfolio website with photos
and videos from the final exhibition. More information about my thesis can
be found at https://majs.space/nobody.html.
Some highlights from the semester include awards which I received. I was
honored to be the recipient of not one, but two awards from my major
department, the Department of Art + Architecture.
The first award is for leadership and academic prowess within the program
of Art + Architecture, working alongside my peers to do our best and
consistently rise to meet challenges in design coursework. During my time
at USF, I have explored many new mediums to develop a diverse body of
work, leaning into new skill sets and technologies whenever possible.
The second award is for my works embodying matters of social justice,
which are currently on display in the Thacher Gallery in Gleeson Library on
campus — “Tigerskin,” which is a piece of empowerment in response to
anti-Asian hate crimes in San Francisco, and “Passport of the United
Choirs of Angels,” which illustrates the challenges faced by migrants at the
Southern United States border.
I was also honored to be selected as a finalist for Valedictorian of the
College of Arts and Sciences. After a rigorous interview process, there
remained five finalists, of which one was selected Valedictorian.
Although I was not selected as Valedictorian, the application and interview
process gave me space to reflect on my time at the University and
leadership within my graduating class.
There was a breakfast and reception for the Dean’s Medal and Valedictorian
finalists which I attended with those who sent in letters of recommendation
on my behalf.
I have been accepted to an internship at the Exploratorium, a science and
educational museum known for its interactive and participatory exhibits.
I am thrilled to begin work at the Exploratorium because within the last two
years as I have considered my professional career on a deeper level, I have
developed a strong interest in the museum industry, particularly interactive
museums and learning spaces. I will be working in exhibition development
and documentation — prototyping new installations and documenting past
ones, which is the kind of design I have a strong interest in.
I am also excited to be part of this institution because it was influential to my
development when I was a child as a San Francisco local, and I would visit
their old location at the Palace of Fine Arts with my parents and schools. A
cultural landmark founded in 1969, the Exploratorium is a large part of San
Francisco identity and I am proud to soon be a part of it.
My internship begins on June 13th and I will be working part-time until
August 19th. The part-time nature of the internship will allow me to seek
other job opportunities and work on personal projects which have since
been put on hold to prioritize my academics.
Thank you for your support through the four years of my education at the
University of San Francisco. My education and experiences here have truly
allowed me to develop and discover new worlds and connections. I am
looking forward to keeping in touch in the future.
Maj Jenkins (Malia Jenkins)