Lydia Polarine, senior art and psychology major, knew she wanted to help others in her career path, and that with an education in art and psychology, she would be able to do just that.
“My goal is to do art therapy,” Polarine said. “I want to help other people express, through art, the good and the bad, the way I express the good and the bad in my life.”
In her search for a college, Polarine wanted a school further from home, so she could become more independent. She felt like Waynesburg University offered her the opportunities to do that and more.
“I wanted to go somewhere where the teachers really cared about the students, and that was definitely a thing that struck me when I was visiting Waynesburg that didn’t necessarily strike me when I was visiting other colleges,” Polarine said.
Two professors that inspired Polarine throughout her years at Waynesburg were Jenny Jellison, professor of psychology, and Andrew Heisey, chairperson for the Fine Arts Department and associate professor of art.
“I first met Lydia when she toured campus,” Jellison said. “She was immediately sure of what she wanted to major in and the career she wanted to work towards, and she wasn’t afraid of the challenges that would entail.”
Jellison said that during class, Polarine would take a complicated idea and take a different angle on it that she never saw coming.
Like many college students, Polarine did experience doubts about her major but also had backlash from others about the stereotypes around being an art major.
Despite these doubts and the backlash, she kept moving forward because of her passion for her majors.
“I do have a plan, and I know I’m going to enjoy what I’m doing.” Polarine said.
Throughout her years at Waynesburg, Polarine found herself growing as a person just like she had hoped, but it wasn’t just her independence that grew.
“I definitely started making art for me. In high school and even at the beginning of college, you make art for the projects. I started making art where I came up with the idea and I executed it the way I wanted to,” Polarine said.
After graduation, Polarine will be attending Drexel University in Philadelphia for art therapy.
“She stayed focused on her goals and was unafraid of what she needed to do to reach them. She wanted it, she worked for it and she got it. That’s Lydia.” Jellison said.
Heisey said he knew Polarine had nothing to worry about when it came to art school.
“She is a perfect fit for their program,” Heisey said. “Lydia is a gifted artist and is always looking for interesting ways to complete her art projects.”
Polarine said that the Fine Arts Department was supportive through everything, especially in the independent study class that all art majors must take.
“You pitch the idea to the professor, and Professor Heisey helps you through the process of making something that’s completely your own idea,” she said. “I really liked that support.”
In her student art show, Polarine did something no student has done in the past.
“Every semester I tell students that if they want to, they may paint on the gallery walls to add to the drama of their artwork. Lydia was the first student to do it,” Heisey said. “It made her gallery show amazing and stand out from previous students.”
Polarine had made clay clouds that were suspended from the ceiling. She painted a sky of clouds behind them to add to the exhibit.
“I am so glad that I got to see her art exhibit, because it gave me even more insight into what an amazing person she is,” Jellison said. “I was emotional at points, saying ‘Wow!’ out loud under my breath, because I had the opportunity to be a part of the life and growth of someone who is truly going to change lives.”
Polarine was the vice president of the art club at Waynesburg University for three years, has been a part of the Muse & Stone for four years and was the art genre editor for the publication her senior year.
“If I had one thing I could say, I would just encourage people to try art stuff. Even to just doodle. It’s such a good stress relief. I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me and supported me through my journey in art,” Polarine said.