Please introduce yourself, the year you graduated, and what was your major when you graduated?
My name is Jesse Ovalles. I am of Dominican descent and live in Sleepy Hollow, New York in Westchester County. I graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts in 2012 with a major in Computer Art.
What was your Syracuse University experience like when you attended?
I would say that my experience at SU was very unique. I grew up in a very diverse environment and I am glad to say that that made the transition to Syracuse a little smoother. I found myself making more connections with those pursuing careers in fields such as engineering, business, information technology, medicine, and more as opposed to those in my own field. This only added to the level of diversity that I experienced during my undergraduate years, giving me an insight to other perspectives and ways of thinking. Because of this, I have a pretty solid network established outside of my own industry. In an effort to be active on campus beyond academics, I joined the Kappa Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in the Spring of 2009. Through this I learned time management, leadership skills, teamwork, and how my computer art skills could be applied to help an organization grow. I went on to apply the same skills to other groups on campus such as the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, Maxwell School Information and Computing Technology, and La Casita Cultural Center. Overall I would say that my time at SU taught me how to be multifaceted, which in retrospect has allowed me to find opportunities that would have been otherwise unapproachable.
What did you do post-SU?
After graduating from SU, I spent some time exploring my career options. I did this in the form of freelancing and interning for digital marketing agencies, film production companies, and tv post-production studios in the New York City area. After one year, I decided to start pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at Mercy College’s Manhattan campus, concentrating in Marketing. Taking what I learned from my experiences at SU and recent employers, I felt that it was best for me to create a career path that merged my passion for digital art with business knowledge. Being part of the generation that grew up along with social media, it was only natural that this mindset and skillset would find me working in the field of social media marketing. As I started my MBA, I also started working at Cogent Entertainment Marketing in NYC, creating visual content and assisting in account management for a variety of client’s social media channels. Throughout these experiences I’ve also been developing my skills and portfolio in the mediums of photography, video, and animation. I will be showcasing some of my latest work at the launch party/exhibition Part Of Me NYC on May 16th. My work can be found on my website, JesseOvalles.com
What’s the best advice you would give to current students?
Don’t play it safe, you have plenty of time to do that after your undergraduate years. Seek experiences that will take you out of your comfort zone, and connect with people who come from different backgrounds than yourself. If you have a passion for something, figure out how to incorporate it into everything that you do and every organization that you join. I believe that as important as it is to grow and succeed academically, actively exercising your passions can help take anything you do to the next level. Learning how to balance these things is a growing experience in itself. Finding a mentor in your field is also important as well, and is something that I unfortunately did not seek out until after my time at SU. A mentor can help steer you in the right direction when looking for internships, and inform you on key aspects of your desired industry that are not taught in the classroom. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone, and knowing when to ask for help can be the difference between success and failure. Last but not least, there is no such thing as too little too late. Don’t feel that just because you’re already a junior or even a senior that you can’t start making moves to improve yourself and your Syracuse University experience. The real journey begins after graduation, might as well get any sort of head start that you can.
What do you think about LANSU Scholarship?
I think that the LANSU Scholarship is a great step towards providing Alumni with a platform to give back to those who are in the position that they were once in. Alleviating any amount of the financial burden that comes with pursuing an education can help the right minded student focus time and energy in making the most of their Syracuse University experience. Looking forward to seeing the impact that this program has on our community!