Meet Alysa Joerger, Graphic Design and Art History Major


Meet Alysa Joerger, graphic design and art history major. She plans on blending her passion for the arts and English as she works on transferring to UC Davis. She loves the Sierra community and all the support she received from her teachers. Find out how she found her way at Sierra, and also why she thinks a unicorn would be the ideal pet.

What’s your major?
At Sierra right now, I’m studying art history as well as applied art and design: graphic design. I took a break from Sierra for two years, and the first time around, I was an English major. I’m planning on applying for the TAG and transferring to Davis next fall as a double major in English as well as cinema and digital media.
Are you involved in any clubs?
I’m involved in the Feminist Action Club, Rainbow Alliance, Secular Student Alliance and Phi Theta Kappa.
I was the president of Phi Theta Kappa back when I went to Sierra the first time, and so I was super involved. We had a huge group.
The Secular Student Alliance is an organization focused on secularism. We focus on the role of church and state and how those are separated. We also talk about equality activism, and we love doing women’s marches and things like that. We like to try to be a voice of reason on campus.
Who were your most influential instructors?
The first time I went to Sierra, I had a lot of help from many different professors: Barbara Nelson-Burns, Barry Abrams and Rebecca Quinn, specifically.
They got me involved with clubs, which was a first in my introverted life. I even started a creative writing club here on campus! Unfortunately, the creative writing club isn’t around anymore. I was also in the Literature Club and various other clubs too. I’m still working with Rebecca Quinn in the Secular Student Alliance here on campus.
All these teachers encouraged me to get involved in the community, as well as helping me with school and making sure everything was going well in my life.
Since I returned to Sierra and started the graphic design program, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Clare Rickman, who has been a great help. She is just an amazing person! I had her as my professor for Digital Art Studio: Concepts and Practices (AAD 73) class last semester. She is so dedicated to all the students, and she is such a sweetheart.
Clare Rickman has been a mentor not only as a support figure in the classroom, but I’ve been talking to her about my future goals. As I said, I took a break from school for two years. So when I came back, I was feeling lost and uncertain about what I wanted to do.
So Clare was helping me figure out my goals. Ultimately, I think I want to work for a contemporary art magazine. She recommended getting a degree in a related field. She had actually gone for her master’s in art when her bachelor’s degree was in something completely different. So she told me, “Whatever you do, it’s going to work out.” She helped me to stop stressing about it so much, and to figure out what exactly it is I want to do.
What’s the amazing thing you found at Sierra?
I’d have to say that the community here is so big and wonderful. I love the student organizations that I’ve been involved in, where I’ve met like-minded people and promoted good things in the world.
The community of teachers is wonderful too, as I was saying about Clare Rickman and my other instructors. Everyone here is like that! The people here get to know each other, and they sincerely care about each other. It’s not like a big university where you are just a face in a classroom, and the lecturer may never even look at you all semester. I love that our teachers care so much. It’s wonderful to be able to have that support.
What’s your favorite place to hang out on campus?
I spend the most amount of time, aside from in class, over at the Pride Center. It’s really nice there. It can be quiet sometimes, but sometimes it’s not! But even when it’s not quiet and you’re trying to work, it’s a really friendly place. There might be laughing while you are studying, and people are having a great time overall.
It’s great that Sierra has gotten so much bigger over the past couple of years. I was gone from Fall 2014, and then I came back Fall 2016. I wasn’t gone that long, but it is very different now. I really like it! It’s bigger, and there are a lot more things going on.
What is your biggest Sierra College achievement?
Overall, probably being president of Phi Theta Kappa. Also, back in the day, I got the outstanding student award in English. So those are some pretty big achievements.
But currently, finding my direction and knowing what I want to do is the greatest thing I accomplished at Sierra.
Before, I was studying art history and everything like that, and up until this summer, I thought I would double major in English and art history. But it didn’t feel perfect—it felt like I was just settling.
So once I was informed about the cinema and digital media major, and I started exploring that, I have been and am just falling more and more in love with it. And I’m so happy I’m going to be doing cinema and digital media, that I finally found something to complement my passion for English. Now, everything feels right.
I love this path, and it will help me out when I go to find a job as well. Because if you have just an art history or literature background, it can be hard to find a job. That was one of the things I had talked about with Clare. The cinema and digital media major‚ especially because it is interdisciplinary already, will blend really well with all the literature I hope to be reading for the English major (and for fun). I definitely would say finding myself and finding my path while I was here at Sierra is my greatest achievement.
The last question is a fun one: if you could have any kind of pet, imaginary included, what would it be?
I think I’m going to go with unicorn here. I have always been fond of horses. I used to ride them when I was younger, and I have a great respect for them. They are wonderful companions.
So I love horses in general, but then when you add the whole unicorn bit, you get the magic and gentle healing powers—which for someone clumsy like me, that’s totally awesome. Not to mention the fact that I often play a healer in role-playing games, so they’re similar to me! I also like that they are a symbol of goodness and peace.
Anything else you want to share?
I want to let people know that if they have an unconventional path like I do, everything is going to work out. You just need to focus on yourself and figure out what you want and to go for it.
Even if the world is saying, “Hey, you took two years off from school; you’re never going to make it…” Or even more so—if those critical voices are saying, “You took 20 years off from school; you’re never going to make it.” They’re wrong. Just do what you feel like you need to do, and you’ll get it done. You’ll make it.