A Conversation with Emily Thomas BFA'24

As a Portlander, Emily Thomas BFA’24 grew up with PNCA as an integral part of her cultural life, and it was always her dream to attend art school. In high school, she even had a few exhibitions at the college.

After starting school at Portland State, she still dreamed of transferring to PNCA. Thanks to you, and support from the PNCA Bridgetown Scholarship and the Transfer Scholarship, her wish came true.

Emily’s main passion is creating surface designs for textiles. While at PNCA, she’s taken several classes that have helped her strengthen those skills. One of her favorites was Assistant Professor Zach Rau’s course on Digital Media Strategies. “He gives great feedback,” Emily says. “He’s honest without being mean. He really wants to push students forward.”

In Assistant Professor Zach Meyer’s Advanced Illustration Studio, Emily began to find her fit in a creative career. His class deepened her interest in color and material design, helping her integrate both with her illustration abilities. “Illustration is inspiring me to move into other fields,” she says. “There are so many avenues.”

Emily has also been nourished by the larger PNCA community and has had her artistic eye sharpened by critiques from her peers. “Artists are nothing without their community,” she says. “I think it’s really cool to be able to bounce ideas of of other students.” Another formative experience included a semester abroad in Belgium at the LUCA School of Arts in Ghent, followed by visits to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and art in Prague and Vienna after her semester was over.

Though she’d love to live abroad someday, at the moment Emily is applying for internships in Portland and would love to work in the footwear industry.

She’s thankful for your support. “PNCA has been a great ft for me, so I really appreciate the help that scholarships have given me,” she says.


Thank you for giving Emily this life-changing gift.

Read more stories about how Willamette's exceptional MBA students, faculty and alumni are turning knowledge into action on our news page.

Emily Thomas BFA'24

“PNCA has been a great fit for me, so I really appreciate the help that scholarships have given me."

Willamette University

Alumni and Parent Engagement

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