Ana Pérez always had a knack for art and creative pursuits. It’s one of the many reasons she chose digital design and media art as her major at Wilkes. Now, thanks to a new holiday tradition, friends of Wilkes near and far can enjoy her talents, too.
Pérez’s design was the winning entry to the first-ever holiday card contest. The contest encouraged illustrations, photography, art and design from Wilkes students as a new holiday tradition. Submissions were then voted on by the campus community to determine a winner.
Pérez’s design was one of six submissions and won 40 percent of the vote. A senior from Hazle Township, Pa., she was inspired by her own multicultural heritage.
“I felt that I had a different perspective of what a holiday is since I was born and raised in another country. I wanted to offer that perspective in my illustration,” explains Perez. “My main purpose was to create a multicultural holiday card that showed people of different colors, cultures and ages to represent a bit of the diversity within the University.”
A graduate from the Instituto Agronómico y Técnico Salesiano in the Dominican Republic (where she delivered her commencement address), Pérez cites a conversation with her grandmother as the inspiration for the design.
“My main purpose was to create a multicultural holiday card that showed people of different colors, cultures and ages to represent a bit of the diversity within the University.”
“We were discussing how she was planning to celebrate Christmas in the Dominican Republic since the government has prohibitions in place due to the pandemic. She told me that they were not allowed to do anything after 7 p.m. and that they needed to celebrate during lunch time. I was a little sad because ‘Noche Buena’ or Christmas Eve is very important to us and we celebrate at night, but she was not sad at all.
She told me that, when she was little, they were so poor that families used to prepare just one food. Then, everybody would gather in one place, bring the food they prepared and share it with all the neighbors as a family. I immediately took this idea of a big party with people all over the place, bringing food, gathering and celebrating.”
Her remarkable design delivered with each illustration telling a different story of holiday celebrations on campus and among Wilkes students.
“When people look at my design, I want them to find something different every time they see it. There are a lot of hidden details that people will only be able to see if they look closer,” she said.
Among those details is a dessert table with a Wilkes cake topper, the Wilkes Colonel greeting party-goers on the Gateway, a t-shirt from the University’s “Year of the Vote” campaign and the John Wilkes statue decorated in Christmas lights. Kirby Hall, the clock outside of Weckesser Hall and even the Wilkes shuttle bus make an appearance.
Pérez, a transfer student from Luzerne County Community College, is also a Digital Design and Media Art Scholar for the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. She will graduate in May and eagerly anticipates writing and illustrating a children’s book and exploring job opportunities.
But if this year has taught her anything, it’s to go for it. “Follow your dreams and make things happen,” she said, citing Eric Ruggiero, chair of digital design and media art, and Lisa Reynolds, assistant professor, as Wilkes mentors who continue to push her toward new opportunities.
In addition to the greeting card that will reach more than 1,200, Pérez’s design will be displayed in Weckesser Hall. Holiday card designs depicting the campus and seasonal celebrations were also submitted by Ryan Dunsmuir, Cienna Tohme, Mikayla Ronczka, Paige Edwards and Danielle Morris. Pérez and each of these students will receive gift cards and Wilkes swag.