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Juanillo seeks change through art, psychology

StephanieJuanillo will attend Linfield to study psychology and minor in art. She plans to combine the two in a career in art therapy.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
StephanieJuanillo will attend Linfield to study psychology and minor in art. She plans to combine the two in a career in art therapy.

PERRYDALE — For Perrydale High School senior Stephanie Juanillo, art is therapy.

After she graduated on Friday, Juanillo will continue her education to help others discover the therapeutic nature of creating.

“For some people it’s hard to be themselves around other people or maybe use words to try to get their thoughts out there,” Juanillo said. “If they are able to do that through art, I think that’s really cool.”

Juanillo will attend Linfield, where she was awarded an art scholarship among others, to study psychology and minor in art. She plans to combine the two in a career in art therapy.

“I’ve always been huge on helping other people, and I’m really interested in psychology,” she said. “Incorporating that into art therapy is really helpful because I’ve used it personally. When I’m under a lot of stress, I like to de-stress that way. I know writing helps a lot too, which is a form of art, if you can put that into a poem or write in a journal.”

Art has been a part of her life since a young age, when her mom would set up a table for her to paint. She draws, paints, makes ceramics and writes. Juanillo said art became her voice when she found it difficult to relate to others at a younger age.

“I used to be really shy. I’ve become less shy,” she said. “That’s a way that’s helped me to interpret my ideas and communicate with other people.”

In a way, Juanillo still uses her art in that manner.

“I also like to use it as activism because I know that it can be hard to use words, and so I think that it’s cool to interpret something in your artwork so other people can see it and reflect on it or interpret it in their own way,” she said.

She earned her art scholarship through a multi-leveled competition, in which students submitted examples of their work, participated in an interview and wrote an essay. She said the essay and interview were about how the students saw art shaping their future.

“It was just about how we see ourselves with art being a career and how we want to use it to make a difference in the world,” she said.

Dan Dugan, Perrydale’s vice principal, said Juanillo has already made a difference at the school by quietly putting in the extra effort with everything she does.

“Her classwork, her artwork is phenomenal,” he said “She just does things the right way. You have a student that continually impresses all staff members. Everybody thinks she’s extremely kind and generous and very nice. That just speaks volumes about their character.”

Juanillo said leaving that community and school she’s attended since preschool is daunting, and she will miss her parents, friends and teachers.

“It’s been nice to get to know everyone and be in a small community and get a lot of attention from our teachers. I know at bigger schools, it’s a little bit harder,” she said. “I’m for sure ready to go out in the world and meet new people and go to a little bigger place.”

As the curtain closes on her high school career, Juanillo offers parting advice to her classmates and others at her alma mater.

“No matter how big and crazy your dreams seem, I think it’s always good to reach out for them, even if they are hard,” she said.

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