Art Institutes

Game Art& Design

I want to put my ideas in play.

Welcome to one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. If you’re still reading, then you must be up to the challenge. And that’s good, because you’re also in line for a career where you can feed your passion for gaming—and turn the skills you've honed into a career where you do what you love. Your future starts in our Game Art & Design degree programs, where you can learn what you need to become a key player in the game creation process. Using the same kinds of technology professionals use, you’ll explore what it takes to get games into the production pipeline. And get yourself into a dynamic industry. You’ll be surrounded and inspired by other talented, creatively driven students. And you’ll be pushed, challenged, and, above all else, supported by experienced faculty*. It’ll put your talent and commitment to the test. But it could also put you in a position to succeed.

*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art & Design

Quarter Credit Hours:
180
Timeframe:
12 Quarters

Gainful Employment

Outcomes

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art & Design

Outcomes

See ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/3066 for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

View Academic Catalog

Classroom Experience


I'm ready to take intensity to a whole new level.

If you see yourself using your creativity to tell stories, you’re looking at a rigorous education. In Game Art & Design, you’ll start with the fundamentals like the principles of design, drawing, and color, in both traditional and digital art. You can build skills in game design, level design, 2D concept art, 3D modeling, texturing, and real-time lighting. The focus is on the principles of gaming, balance, and usability; creating the entire gaming experience; and developing games that’ll be used in industry-standard engines. You’ll explore the planning, scope, problem-solving abilities, and economics of creating a market-ready game. And through it all you’ll put in a lot of hours, work your way through a lot of trial and error, and find yourself challenged by other like-minded students. See our gainful employment pages for possible careers that match the program that interests you.

Meet our Alumni

  • The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston alumni Andrew Satterwhite

    Andrew Satterwhite

    Culinary Arts , 2013

    "The Art Institute of San Antonio [taught me] why recipes come out a certain way."

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    Andrew Satterwhite

    Line Cook at Luke San Antonio

    Andrew Satterwhite is working as a line cook at Luke San Antonio in Texas. He’s responsible for set up, prep, and running the grill station for dinner service. Andrew served in the United States Army for four years as a parachute rigger and has also worked in construction. “All [of these experiences] have taught me skills that I can use for myself, but also I have used them to help this country grow,” he says.

    Andrew looks to his surroundings for inspiration and says that the best part of his culinary career is that it’s always changing. “This is one of the most diverse and exciting careers to have. I can go anywhere and learn recipes, techniques, and cultures to help me make new and exciting dishes [to] introduce to my family and others.”

    Andrew, who in 2013 earned an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of San Antonio, says that his education taught him why recipes turn out a certain way. “Growing up in California, I was lucky enough to encounter many cultures and the cuisines that accompanied them. In the Army, I used an electric skillet and a barbeque to make all my meals.” He recommends that current students open their minds to learning. “Figure out how to make [learning] a driving force in everything you do.”

    See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/2550 for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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  • The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston alumni Angela Lawson

    Angela Lawson

    Digital Photography , 2015

    "My education at The Art Institute of San Antonio gave me the skills, knowledge, and business sense to be successful in [any] genre of photography that I choose."

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    Angela Lawson

    Real Estate Photographer for Curb Views, LLC

    Angela Lawson is a real estate photographer for Curb Views, LLC, in San Antonio, Texas. She photographs houses and collaborates with realtors to build virtual tours of real estate listings. To create her work, Angela visits homes for sale, photographing the inside and outside. “Sometimes, the home may not be photographically ready and I help the owners and realtors to straighten up,” she says. “I had a realtor specifically request me as her photographer because she liked my photographic style. The previous home I shot for her sold in the first 8 hours of being listed. She was so happy and that made me happy!”

    Angela’s creative inspirations include Annie Leibovitz, Martin Schoeller, Herb Ritts, Jerry Uelsman, Christian Coigny, and Helmut Newton. She’s excited to be learning new skills and meeting new people. “I have the chance with each passing day to make better work than the day before. This work is seen by many, many different people and is a reflection of my hard work and knowledge of my craft. I always enjoy learning more about photography.”

    Angela, who in 2015 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from The Art Institute of San Antonio, says that her education provided the skills, knowledge, and business sense she needed to be successful in photography. “I learned about lighting, photographic design, portraiture, photojournalism, corporate and architecture, business practices, and so much more. All of this knowledge sets me apart from many photographers out there in the world.” She adds that current students should take their time and stay focused on their goals. “While you may pick up certain skills quickly, others may be more challenging. Life events, finances, and learning curves may seem to overwhelm at times—it happened to me—but don't let them discourage you from your goals and passion for what you want to do.”

    See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/4262 for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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  • The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston alumni Ayme Troas

    Ayme Troas

    Interior Design , 2015

    "My education [taught me] how to communicate with other designers. When they ask for particular items by name, I know exactly what they are talking about."

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    Ayme Troas

    Design and Sales for KBK to Trade

    Ayme Troas is working in design and sales for KBK to Trade in San Antonio, Texas. She assists designers in finding the right fabrics, furniture, accessories, and lighting for interior design projects. Ayme also works with vendors to get information for clients and to place orders. “The design industry is always evolving, as are the people. Every once in a while someone comes along and takes the industry by storm. I enjoy learning about the new trends and introducing them to our clients,” she says.

    Ayme finds creative inspiration in the world around her. “Whether it’s people, food, my surroundings, or a movement, there is always something that will spark a start to my next project.” Her creative heroes are people in the design industry who go above and beyond to reach the best possible design outcome. Looking to the future, Ayme believes that computer renderings will continue to improve—and will soon look like actual photographs. “The industry is headed toward more digital advances [including] creating applications for tablets or phones [that will allow designers to make] on-the-spot renderings. These [applications] would be extremely beneficial to designers who are always on the go.”

    Ayme, who in 2015 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from The Art Institute of San Antonio, says that her education taught her the industry language as well as how to be a strong communicator. “When [other designers] ask for particular items by name, I know exactly what they are talking about and therefore I can help them more proficiently. I’m also able to quickly draft plans or create sketches to show custom pieces or room layouts.” She adds that current students should push their creativity and don’t hold back. “Find your signature style but don’t be afraid to explore others.”

    See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/2546 for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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  • The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston alumni Sommer Bostick

    Sommer Bostick

    Media Arts & Animation , 2014

    "Working on game based training for the military has exposed me to things I never would be doing when I started at [The Art Institute of San Antonio]."

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    Sommer Bostick

    3D Modeler and Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton

    Sommer Bostick is working as a 3D modeler and consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton on the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas. She works on game based training for the military, and is responsible for creating and texturing 3D models, video editing, and demonstrating products and capabilities at marketing events. Sommer says that she learns something new each day. “I think that's one of the coolest things about being in the animation industry because when you have to model and animate something you know nothing about, you have to learn everything about it so you can accurately represent it.”

    Sommer is especially proud to have created a welcome video for Booz Allen Hamilton’s incoming CEO—it was played for hundreds of employees. “That video gained me recognition from leadership and other teams in the firm. I met and talked with the CEO one-on-one during the event [where the video] was played, and it was an amazing experience for me.” Since her video was viewed, Sommer says that the company’s leadership has relied on her more and more. “I realized how much I proved myself to my team, and the whole firm.”

    Sommer, who in 2014 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation from The Art Institute of San Antonio, says that her education provided her with the knowledge, tools, and skills she needed to transition into her current career. She recommends that current students give it everything they’ve got—even if it means taking a job that isn’t a “dream job.” “It’s experience and you need that.” She adds that the future of her industry lies in staying on top of new technology and developing applications and training. “Currently we are diving into virtual reality with technology like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. We are exploring how these technologies can benefit training in the military. I believe that virtual reality can go beyond that into health care and other professions, and be incredibly useful in training capabilities.”

    See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/2547 for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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What Will I Study?

Study Section

I have the imagination. I need the tools.

In this competitive industry, companies are looking for creative people who are passionate about the craft of taking a game from concept to market-ready. The curriculum for Game Art & Design will help you prepare to do just that, as you study:

  • Digital Imaging
  • Life Drawing
  • Drawing & Anatomy
  • 2D Animation
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Character and Object Design
  • 3D Modeling
  • Game Art & Design
  • Texture Mapping
  • 3D Animation
  • Material & Lighting
  • Game Modeling
  • Game Production Pipeline
  • Designing Interior Spaces and Worlds


I'm looking for my proving ground

At The Art Institutes system of schools, creativity is our core, our calling, our culture. Game Art & Design is built on that creative foundation. It’s also built on our knowledge that a creative career is not for the faint of heart. Because it’s tough out there, it’s tough in here. But we temper the tough with the support you need to make your creativity marketable. We provide the mentoring and real-world experience you need to prevail, with faculty* who’ve worked in the field and internship possibilities at successful businesses. Here, you’ll be encouraged and expected to be bold. To take risks. To push yourself and the people around you. So if your heart is telling you that you belong in a creative field, you belong here. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever love.

*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

 

Meet our Faculty

  • Billy Vanderburg HS

    Billy Vanderburg

    Game Art & Design

    "Be Awesome!"

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    Billy Vanderburg

    Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    Actually, while I was in college an inspirational individual said that you need to do what you want in life. I examined what I really had a passion in and decided that I wanted to make video games. So I did some research and found The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg, where I was one of the first to graduate with the new degree in Game Art & Design. Afterward, joining THQ and EA was a game changer for me in my skills, leadership development, and involvement with AAA game production.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

    Other than giving my anecdotal horror/glory stories, I also integrate industry standards, expectations, and terminology into the curriculum. The game industry is a very exciting and sometimes intense business with fluctuating schedules, deadlines, and task management that is often reliant upon the individuals to creatively find solutions and accomplish goals within a team environment. So for my classes at The Art Institute of San Antonio, I have the students not only work in teams, but also estimate tasks and develop expectations of content that are reported on and presented in “stand up” progress meetings and milestone goal reviews. This holds the individuals accountable for his or her work within the team environment while allowing for creative flexibility like that in the industry.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    I consider my “lecture” classes to be more like small training sessions similar to “art lunches” that I experienced in the industry. Critiques in my classes are approached as interactive milestone meetings that include not only feedback from the art director, but also peer review. Specifically, in the industry, tasks are never “incomplete” and iteration is a necessary process in development. So in the classroom, homework (art tests) is similarly never “incomplete” and requires iteration so that competencies are met and surpassed.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

    Collaboration is crucial during the team classes in Game Art & Design. They are made up of literally 9 months for a “vertical slice” development cycle that include various disciplines such as character art, environment art, design, leading roles, and even sound, interface, and vfx. The students set up their group goals for the game by establishing a game overview document and set up individualized schedules that feed into a greater overarching goal, which has quality standards set by myself.
     

    What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

    Students should not expect to jump into the gaming program just to play games. Well, playing is important, but students need to understand the competitive nature of the industry and that hard work, dedication, and organization leads to success. I specifically don’t give “homework,” rather, actual “art tests.” Art tests are established by developers to determine whether an individual is capable of joining a team (before getting the interview). So the art tests I give to my students are much structured in a similar way. And the feedback that I give is not a “grade” exactly, but a degree of meeting expectations—like many industries, employees are not given As and Bs during their annual reviews, but told whether they met expectations, exceeded them, or have room for improvement with specific details and feedback to improve. And that is how I run my classroom.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I am very pleased to be a part of an industry that allows me to share my expertise with future game developers and create games. I feel honored that I am shaping the next generation of games that I, as a lover of games, will consume!

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  • Josh Stutts

    Joshua Stutts

    Game Art & Design

    "I get to see students grow and realize their potential... and know that I helped them to get there."

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    Joshua Stutts

    Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the arts and creating, whether it was stories or drawings or sculpture. Growing up in a small town in Alabama, I never thought of turning that into a career until an Art Institutes representative came and talked to my high school. From then on I knew I wanted to turn my creativity into my career.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

    I always try to tie any class project back to the day-to-day industry. Assignments are designed as art tests or freelance jobs. In the Team Production class it’s based on the normal routine of working in a game studio. We have stand-up meetings that follow the SCRUM management style that a lot of game studios use now.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring...and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    I’ve set up my Team Production class like a regular development team, because it’s important that students get a sense of what their typical work day might be like. They have complete control over the project; once they realize they’re in charge, they push themselves harder than normal. I’m there to offer advice, but I want them to listen to their own instincts so they can use all the skills they’ve learned to make their decisions. It empowers students and helps them see where they need to improve.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

    When students hit the workplace after graduation, they won’t be working individually, but as part of a team. Collaboration in the classroom helps them see the impact they have on a project and how they help meet the needs of the team.

    What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

    You have to constantly practice your craft. If you want to succeed, you can’t just do your homework, because your competition is continually perfecting their craft. They work 50 to 60 hours a week at the job you want. And when they get home at night they’re practicing and perfecting and learning new techniques. You have to put in 150% if you want to compete. It sounds daunting and difficult. But if you love what you do, it’s not work—it’s fun and rewarding. And worth every minute you put into it.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    This has been one of my most rewarding jobs, because I get to see students grow and realize their potential. And I know I helped them to get there.

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  • Marilyn Ibey HS

    Dr. Marilyn Ibey

    General Education

    "Attitude is the aroma of the soul."

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    Dr. Marilyn Ibey
    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    The defining moment of my life was the two successful heart surgeries of my third daughter at age 6 in 1984.  It was then that I devoted my life to the health, education and welfare of my four children and to my future grandchildren, and to my future students in teaching science.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?


    I received my Bachelor in science from McGill University in 1972.  I married and raised my four children while getting my Secondary Science Teacher Certification, working part-time in retail, and doing volunteer work.  After I started teaching science at Northside ISD , I earned my Masters of Arts in Molecular Biology from University of The Incarnate Word in 1997.  Then in 2013, I earned my Doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership from University of Texas at San Antonio. I published an article in the European Journal of Math and Science in January 2016.  I guess you could say that I am a life-long learner and science educator, as well as the matriarch of my family.

    I have taught secondary science for 20 years and  college science for the last five years. I know how to impart the interdisciplinary science knowledge and skills needed for science literacy to sustain life on this planet in this day and age.  I also impress upon my students that success any professional capacity requires self-discipline. critical thinking, and teamwork beyond having  the necessary knowledge and skills.

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    I interview each student about their art and aspirations.  Then I assign them a Power Point and oral presentation about one career in Biology.  The students come to see that Biology is a huge and diverse area of scientific endeavor and that biologists, as artists, are very  passionate and devoted to their fields.

    What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

    All future professional jobs require some degree of collaboration or teamwork to produce a top quality product.  Considering others’ contributions and  perspectives from inside and outside the field, and receiving support from team members are the keys to success.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

    I tell students to follow their professional passion and their careers will always be a source of joy and inspiration.

    Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

    Science teaching at The Art Institute of San Antonio has broadened my art of teaching diverse students. I am inspired by the contagious creative passion!


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  • Rick

    Rick "Coach" Green

    General Education

    "Setting goals is critical, in and out of the classroom."

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    Rick "Coach" Green

    Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    My junior year in high school, I was in the food service program. The drama teacher encouraged me to try out for the school play, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. After the director of the food service program saw me act in the play, she encouraged me to go back into regular studies and join the speech team. The next year, I was state champion in Duet Acting and fifth in the nation for Prose/Poetry…and I knew performing was my destiny.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    Adults learn by doing. So when I teach the communication process model, my students act out the different components of the model. It’s an approach that’s based on collaboration and student-centered learning.

    What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

    I always have students set goals for their learning experience. Setting goals is critical, in and out of the classroom, to help you get and stay motivated.

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  • Meghan Pearson HS

    Meghan Pearson

    General Education

    "You only get one body. Take care of it!"

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    Meghan Pearson
    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    As a dietitian, I’m more of a math and science person, however interacting with aspiring creative professionals in the classroom offers new perspectives on my field and adds a nice balance to my work.  I like to think my background in the sciences helps to balance the creative careers of my students as well.  

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

    Nutrition is a unique course in that it applies to everyone on an individual level.  Everybody eats, so everybody can benefit from this class if they choose to.  I like to utilize my professional experience to create opportunities for students to learn hands-on by applying what they’re learning to their own lives, in addition to sharing real-life examples to demonstrate key concepts.

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    I try to balance educating my students on the facts about my field while also encouraging them to form their own opinions about nutrition.  Our class discussions probably best exemplify this approach.  Opening the floor for students to share their opinions on potentially polarizing topics provides an opportunity for individuals’ beliefs, biases, and opinions to be challenged.  Sometimes opinions are changed and sometimes they’re strengthened; but what’s just as important as becoming better informed on these topics is learning how to disagree with peers in a way that is respectful, mature, and constructive.  This is a skill that will take them far in any field.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

    I believe the single most important thing I impart to my students is teaching them to be informed consumers.  My class addresses how to interpret nutrition research, making wise choices in the grocery store, restaurants, and safety in over-the-counter supplements.  I won’t always be there to answer their questions, so my most important job is teaching them how to find the answers themselves.    

    The most critical advice I can offer a student embarking on a creative career is to take care of yourself.  Care for your body and your health.  Your body enables you to pursue your dreams, and your health will directly impact your daily life.  You only get one body.  Take care of it.

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  • Pachecano HS

    Robert Pachecano, M.A.

    General Education

    "The most critical advice I give to students is to never accept things at face value."

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    Robert Pachecano, M.A.
    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    I have come to find a home at The Art Institute of San Antonio.  I thought it was going to be a challenge to teach the discipline of Sociology in a creative environment but I come to find that it blends very well in the creative environment of Ai San Antonio.  If I can point to a defining moment, it would be when my first term teaching, on the last day of class, some of my students’ final words to me were, “This is the BEST class I have ever taken.”  “I learned A LOT.”  “You are the BEST instructor I’ve EVER had.”  “I didn’t think I was going to make a connection with sociology and ________” (insert graphic design, game art design, interior design, fashion management, culinary, etc.).  The impact that I have had on students has been far reaching and rewarding at the same time.  


    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?


    I often tell my students on the first day of class that teaching sociology is only one of the many jobs I have had in the community.  Along with a career in academia, I have been a social worker and a case manager.  I have worked with diverse populations in this area:  from single mothers, to survivors of domestic violence, from homeless veterans and veterans undergoing drug treatment, to people coming in and going out of the federal prison system, witness protection, and federal probationers.  I very much draw from the experiences and the interactions I have had with different people and this has given me the unique perspectives I take in class.  It has also given me ability to be patient and really listen to what people are saying, or trying to communicate to you.  Making a connection is often the simplest thing someone can do, to make the biggest impact on anyone you meet and interact with.  

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    If I can point to one particular assignment in my course, it would be the paper and presentation.  The paper involves them choosing a current social problem in our society today and they have to incorporate a chapter from the textbook, along with other sources online and research.  This allows them to synthesize everything we’ve discussed in class and apply it in some way in the analysis that goes into their paper.  THEN, they also have to present their paper to the class as well.  Those who are writing challenged are challenged to really focus their thoughts unto paper.  Those who are presentation shy are challenged to come out of their shells.  These are two skills that students must master before they get out there in real world.  They have to be able to effectively present their thoughts in writing AND they have to be able to express those thoughts to other people.  I simply use the perspective sociology gives students to help them accomplish this. 

    I often say, no matter your major:  graphic design, game art design, interior design, fashion management, culinary, etc.; you will be dealing with people, as customers, as clients and the like.  Sociology as a discipline helps you do this.  Understanding the groups people inhabit and the effect groups have on people as individuals  gives students, who are future creative professionals an edge no one else has.  The most critical advice I give to students is to never accept things at face value.  That, the real challenge lies in seeking the real reasons why things happen, why people act the way they do.  This is critical because we live in a world now where things are just accepted as truth, because it’s on a website, or someone important said it. 

    Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

    I do what I do because of education.  Education is many things.  Education is empowerment.  Education is liberty and liberation.  It is a driving force that fuels the future; that enables people to carry on even when the odds, the challenges the barriers seem insurmountable. I am living proof of this.  I am proud to say, I am from the westside of San Antonio, born and raised.  I come from humble beginnings where sacrifice for education was the mantra; was the mission statement; was the vision.  Education above all else was something my migrant worker grandparents and parents instilled in me from the beginning, for two simple reasons.  That is the only way you can be truly free, and it is, “the only thing that they can’t take away from you”, as my mother would say.  


    Education is my mission. Sociology is my passion.  Service to others and empowerment fuel my values.  This is all I know.  It is all I have grown up with, it is what was given to me and what I give to students in class.  Because I am still a student (in a doctoral program), being able to relate to students and all they go through is just as important as course material and concepts. I know I have faced the same, exact odds, barriers and challenges. Every day I step into a classroom, I carry all of this with me.  I pride myself on being flexible and understanding; but still expect everyone to give all they have to their educational endeavors.  This is because this is what was expected of me, not just from teachers and professors, or researchers; but from my family, alive and in heaven now.  No matter what you have going on, how bad it seems, how impossible things seem to get; education is the solution to it all.  It is what will ensure a brighter future.

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