By Christina Waters
"I was always the girl who asked too many questions," confesses Regents Scholar Leigh Douglas, currently wrapping up her first year at UCSC. Awarded to students for outstanding academic records and personal achievement, the Regents Scholarship is considered to be the most prestigious such award in the UC system. Regents Scholar support for four years allows Douglas to design her ideal study path and focus on areas of her special interest. It also allows her priority registration for classes, which she admits is a big plus. Since her lifelong passion has been art, Douglas wasted no time requesting to be affiliated with the Arts and has been working under the mentorship of Art Department professor Frank Galuszka since her arrival last fall.
Private School, Public Launch
The Oakland native freely admits that her education at a private high school helped prepare her for an intensive university experience. "To win this scholarship I wrote an essay about people who had inspired me. I wrote about Freud, Salvador Dali and André Breton." Even she has to grin about that unusual trio of influences. While her private school background groomed Douglas for an Ivy League college, she was always attracted to the UC system. "I'm in love with Santa Cruz."
One of the biggest attractions for her to the UC Regents Scholarship process was "priority registration—that was really important to me. But it wasn't until I got here that I found out how important it was," she laughs. Admitting that her intensive training gave her an advantage, Douglas contends that she also worked tirelessly in high school. "I've been called a perfectionist. But what really inspired me is that I have had the most amazing teachers. They nurture me. In fact my new dream is to become a professor. "
"In high school my teachers had the luxury to dare—so I expected the same thing in college. A lot of my friends are very smart and motivated. I've been fortunate— always knowing that art was my special strength. My faculty mentor, Frank Galuszka, is my hero. And so is my Core Course instructor, Susan Watrous at College Eight." Douglass confesses that she thrives on "these amazing teachers—those who have such a passion for teaching."
I've always wanted to make art - always thought of myself as an artist-illustrator " she reveals. "I do like telling stories with my art. So it has been so much fun to work as an illustrator at City on a Hill, and to use art in a way that's light-hearted and not too "deep" or conceptual. But I am learning to be more expressionistic in my work."
Ahead of the Curve
In addition to art classes Douglas is taking a Philosophy course in Ethics, and introduction to Psychology. "I need inspiration. And I'm looking at courses that will get me where I want to be. I'm so inspired by the ideas behind the human experience." The bureaucracy, Douglas admits, has required her to take occasional courses "aimed below" her already high level of education. "But in general I've had my love for teachers validated here in the arts during my first year. I have professors that absolutely care, like Frank. They inspire me."
Douglas is already ahead of the curve in terms of satisfying the basic academic requirements - and she has her summer plans all mapped out. "I'm going to be working all summer at a pack station at Mammoth Lake. I'll be working hard," she grins - backpacking and painting!"
Proud of her stature, Douglas jokes philosophically that at nearly six feet tall, "it's hard getting dates."