A Letter from Recent Ryman Arts Graduate

By Gabriela Aguirre (Ryman Arts ’15)

I've been drawing since the age of 6 trying to take my skills to the next level. I always dreamed about being a great and recognized artist and having an opportunity that would change my whole life. As I was getting older, I sometimes felt like giving up since I didn’t have a chance to develop my skills. I found out about Ryman Arts in 11th grade and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity that I had been waiting for since I was a kid. I was accepted into the program and attended Ryman Arts for two semesters. Traveling to California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) was a challenge for me since I live in Panorama City and did not have a car. I woke up every Saturday at 3:00 AM to prepare my breakfast, and most importantly my art supplies to start my trip to class. I traveled by public transportation, which included taking busses, trains, underground subways and taxis. It took me five hours to get to classes every weekend. I always arrived earlier than the teachers and staff members.  At the end of every Saturday class, I was exhausted but proud and satisfied of my work. On the way home I would travel a total of six hours, taking two more busses (to save on paying taxi fare), a train, an underground subway and two more busses to get home.

Yes, a lot of people thought that I was crazy to travel 10 to 11 hours a day just to go to class every Saturday from 9:00 to 12:30 in the morning. But I was never late and never missed a class. 

People have not always supported me. People have tried to bring me down, have tested my potential, and have thought I couldn’t achieve what seemed impossible. But I never let anything or anyone stop me from dreaming and achieving my goals.

Now, all of my hard work is reflected in my success. I graduated from Ryman Arts on June 17th and had the opportunity to exhibit one of my paintings at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles. I'm proud of myself for one of the biggest achievements in my life so far.

It was a pleasure and a blessing to be a Ryman Arts student.

Thank you for everything.


Gabriela Aguirre graduated on June 17 from the Ryman Arts program. She will be attending Otis College of Art and Design in the fall.  She is the winner of the Ryman Arts Idyllwild Arts Summer Youth Arts Program Scholarship.

Photo: Gabriela at this year's graduation held at the California African American Museum of Art with her Ryman Arts certificate and her self-portrait.