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Leilani Luu BFA’26 bridges the arts and business across two campuses

by Jackson Garrett BA’26,

Since merging with Willamette University in 2021, students at the Pacific Northwest College of Art have enjoyed access to an expanded catalog of experiences. The merger has made it possible for students, like talented artist Leilani Luu BFA’26, to not only pursue her passion for graphic design but also business and athletics. By attending PNCA and having access to business classes at the College of Arts & Sciences, Luu learned that she didn’t have to choose and instead was able to carve out her perfect college experience.

Luu at her exhibit "Be Normal"While these fields may seem like an unusual combination, Luu values the business savvy she is learning and plans to apply it after graduation to market her artwork.

Being a student at both the Portland and Salem campuses has also had benefits on Luu’s social life. “I have friend groups at both campuses that are different but both fulfilling.” It has also opened up opportunities for her to connect with professors on a personal level. “One professor that I’ve had is Assistant Professor & Co-Chair of Foundation Phoenix McNamara at PNCA. I had a class with them last semester that was 6 hours long but I really got to find my style and make artwork that I truly enjoyed in that class with their help.” Luu is currently in Monterrey, Mexico studying abroad with a group that includes McNamara.

The opportunity for interdisciplinary study at Willamette means that Luu is able to enjoy a wide range of experiences during this transformative time. In the fall of 2023, Luu held her first solo art exhibition at PNCA, “Be Normal,” which highlighted the stigmas associated with taking medication for mental illness.

Luu running cross-countryLuu is also a member of Willamette’s women’s cross country team and an active member of the university’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She was a finalist for the 2023 Women's Individual Service Award, which honors athletes who embody Willamette’s motto: Not unto ourselves alone are we born. Her efforts inside and outside of the classroom continue to show her success as a student on both campuses.

Luu says, “Having access to Willamette and everything it has to offer, the business classes as well as the art classes, I will be able to choose where I want my future to go and I have more control and freedom.”

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