How Did We End Up Here?- My SMU Story

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Hope. Heartbreak. Drama. Plot twists. Australia. You can find it all below, in the story of how I came to attend Southern Methodist University.

Today was the first day of school for the semester.

I am attending Southern Methodist University.

If you knew my story, you’d chuckle. When life gets ironic or takes unexpected turns, especially for the good, we tend to chuckle. I am chuckling.

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Halloween. October 31, 2014 was the first time I set foot on the SMU campus. Anyone who visits can tell that it is easily one of the most beautiful college campuses in the US. But I also fell in love with the Arts school. Long story short, after my very first college tour, I was hooked on SMU. As a high school sophomore.

When it came time to enroll, I got in. The acceptance rate is 49%, so I pretty much had a half and half chance.

The problem?

The price.

That’s fine, right? I can just get a scholarship!

Totally! I received a scholarship of $30,000!!! Super exciting, right? The problem:

SMU’s undergrad tuition fees are around $50,000 a year. Plus, they require students under 20 to live on-campus, so add another solid $14,000.

I did not have that money. My parents did not have that money. So off to community college I went, kicking and screaming.

The thing is, Collin County Community College actually turned out to be an amazing experience. I had a bunch of friends by my side in the same boat, and made some new friends along the way. I got to help start a Bible study group on campus and soon became its President. Attending community college was one of the smartest decisions I ever made because of how much money it saved me, and it was a crucial stepping stone into adulthood. I was also so grateful for that extra year I lived at home. It really prepared me for moving out.

But what now? What’s the plan? What happens after Collin?

That’s the question, isn’t it. That’s the thing with community college. You feel like you have multiple senior years because in the end, you still have to figure out where to go to school.

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With some dual credit courses under my belt, I could transfer from Collin after a year. So I had one year to decide where to go. Sounds like enough time, right? It should be, but not for me! No sir, it was approaching the summer and I still had no idea where I was going. I applied to 7 schools- UTD (University of Texas at Dallas), UNT (University of North Texas), TCU (Texas Christian University), Rice University, UT (University of Texas), Tufts University (a school in Boston), and SMU. I was basically waiting to see what the cheapest option would be, because money.

Slowly, financially things got narrowed down. But they got narrowed down too much. Everything was too expensive. Pretty much every school gave me a decent amount of money, but not enough for me to afford going for three years. Even UTD, the cheapest school I applied for, barely gave me money so it was still pricey.

And then I got the call.

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I was in Austin for a Leadership Training week, having a deep convo with one of my girls, when the phone rang. Out of the 100+ students that applied for a transfer scholarship, 25 were being chosen to come in for an interview. One of them, being lil’ ol’ me.

I got pretty much everyone I knew to pray. I had elders in the church on their hands and knees praying for this interview. So you can imagine the stress, huh?

No sleep for Isabel.

Only 10 would be chosen to receive a full-tuition scholarship to SMU for 5 semesters. That’s basically like winning $150,000.

My sister had her driver’s test that morning (talk about STRESSSSSS in the Arcellana family household), so my friend Lacy drove me up for my interview.

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(Photo taken right after the interview, when I was feeling pretty good about myself.)

I got the email soon after.

I didn’t get the scholarship.

I read it over and over and over until my tears blurred my sight. “We regret to inform you…”

Why was I crying? I’m not a very emotional person. But I am a very driven person with very high expectations of myself. I’m also a dreamer. SMU was my dream school. I had worked my butt off at Collin so I could just have a shot at this exact scholarship. I worked so hard. And what was it about my interview? Am I just not likable? What did I do wrong, what did they want?

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I also didn’t know where else to go. It was June by this time, and I had no idea where I was going to live in 2 months. My mom and I crunched numbers over and over. I would have to go into a lot of debt (which we were trying to avoid like the plague) to even go to UTD, which was not even a school I really wanted to go to.

At one point, I started planning on moving to Australia. People thought I wasn’t serious.

I was serious.

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I was already emailing friends out there and figuring out where I’d live. But my mom wanted to try for SMU again. She said we might be able to afford it if I commute the 45 minute drive, since I have some scholarships. So we started negotiating for me to live at home. And that’s when my SMU advisor asked me to come in.

Two weeks after I had received that heartbreaking email and the day before my birthday, I was back at SMU. At the same intimidation building that was fancier than the White House.

I was led into the office of Jennifer Lasagna, and when I sat down she put a letter in front of me.

“I’ll let you read that.” She said.

I did read it. Again. And again. And again. (Actual footage of me that day)>>>

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I finally decided that I probably forgot how to read and did not understand the letter. “Wait, what?”

She laughed. “You got the scholarship!”

What a turn of events, am I right? I’ll take that as a birthday present.

As it turns out, I was chosen as one of the 10 all along. This whole time, there were 4 or 5 SMU staff members emailing back and forth because some of my credits weren’t transferring and they weren’t sure if they could accept them yet. (Because of me, SMU is having to change some of their policies on AP transferring credits.) They had to tell me no just in case things couldn’t be worked out.

So there you have it! I was absolutely blessed with one of the 10 North Texas Community College Full Tuition scholarships!

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The way I see it, God was like “I’m going to humble you first and make you rethink your whole life and really depend on me. Then I’ll show you my plan. It’s great, I promise. We’ll all laugh at this someday.”

Here’s to hard work paying off, God waiting until the last minute to reveal his plans because it helps my heart, and random life plot twists. Here’s to doors opening and closing right when they need to.

Pony up! I’m a Mustang!

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÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album: Thoughts and Fun Facts Part 1

Ed Sheeran took a year off. He got rid of social media, communicating solely through email, and traveled the world with his girlfriend. He came back, finished up ÷, and has recently released it. The following is a breakdown of each song, pulled from an interview (which will be in a link in Part 2), in which Ed addresses Divide track-to-track.

As Ed says, he “couldn’t have made a better album.”

Eraser

Track 1, and Ed hits us with verses upon verses of what he calls “verbal vomit.” The words strike with such rawness and realness. Almost the first whole minute is simply Ed spitting bars about fame, money, and the “trappings of the industry.”

Ed wrote this song in his treehouse the same night he wrote “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” He says “there’s so much that has happened to me in the last 5 years that I haven’t been able to talk about.” A great kick start to ÷, “Eraser” packs a punch for sure.

Castle on a Hill

Here we have a single that was released in January. A classic roll-your-windows-down-a-country-road Sheeran song. Most of his friends cried when they first heard it, and it’s his dad’s favorite song on the album (probably because he actually lives near the castle on the hill). Ed remarked that he was influenced by Snow Patrol, and that he had the idea of doing a reflective song for a while. He said he thought, “No one’s done this reflective thing! And then that Lukas Graham song came on- and I was like, aaaah!”

Dive

Ahh, now we’re chilling it out a bit after a couple hard-hitting tracks. A great ballad filled with Ed’s underrated belting skills. A classic beat with some very unique melodies and lines like:

So don’t call me baby
Unless you mean it
Don’t tell me you need me
If you don’t believe it
So let me know the truth
Before I dive right into you

When asked about this song, Ed said “that’s hard to sing.” Understandable. But he did it great, didn’t he? “It was meant to be sung falsetto. I was in the kitchen belting it out and Benny (Benny Blanco, producer) was like- ‘that’s how you’re meant to sing it!’.”

Another surprise in this song was the background female vocal. Out of nowhere, a woman named Jessie Ware (who did vocals for 3 songs and co-wrote “New Man”), comes in. Ed confessed that none of his managers and no one at the label agreed with adding her in (it had never happened before on a song of his), but he insisted.

Perfect

Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home
I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own
We are still kids, but we’re so in love, fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling just hold my hand, be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes

Before writing this soft, classic love song, Ed said that his mindset was “I need to write the best love song of my career, and I need to do it %100 me.” Ed’s mission was to beat his hit “Thinking Out Loud,” and ended up writing, singing and producing what he sees as his best song yet.

Talking about his current girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, he admits that he is “really happy, really comfortable,” and has “never been more inspired.”

Galway Girl

A personal favorite of mine, and apparently Ed’s as well. About this ode to Ireland, he said “That’s like my favorite one. My whole album is my favorite one, but that one I was so excited to come out!”

For those who don’t know, Galway is a harbor city in Ireland. Ed had an Irish folk band called Beoga over at his house to record for some of his songs, and decided to write a song in their style. Some people are speculating that the “Galway Girl” is Niamh Dunne, the fiddler in Beoga, but some facts in her life don’t really match up with the song. Also, Ed has said that this was one of two fictional songs in the album (the other, we have no idea).

“I know there’s like 400 million people in the world that claim Irish, and they’re going to love it, and I can’t wait to put it out there. And also Ireland is my biggest market.” There you go, Ireland. A perfect song all wrapped in a bow.

Happier

Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain’t nobody need you like I do
I know that there’s others that deserve you
But my darling I am still in love with you

“When you’ve had your first relationship or second relationship when you’re young and it ends, you’re so bitter about it and I get to sort of… look at exes in their relationships and think ‘she actually looks happier than she’d be if she were with me’,” Ed said, when asked to explain the feeling that this song stemmed from.

“It was a kind of epiphany moment,” he commented, comparing it a little to Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He described meeting the new boyfriend of the girl who his first and second albums were mostly about, and thinking, “he’s so much more suited to her than I ever was.”

New Man

Now, this song is just plain funnyIt’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and proof that Ed can put things like Instagram stalking, kale, Kardashians, and eyebrow plucking into a song and still make you dance.

But still, I’m just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I’ll be creeping a little
I’ll be trying not to double tap, from way back, cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at
Let me remind of the days when you used to hold my hand
And when we sipped champagne out of cider cans
I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn’t superman, just a young boy trying to be loved
So let me give it to you

About this song, Ed said “I was basically like, let’s write a list of like- you know when your ex leaves you and the first guy she gets with- what that guy is like.”

Apparently this was going to be a bonus track (Ed wanted “Save Myself” to be in its place), but the management insisted on putting it in the top 12, and I’m glad he did.

Hearts Don’t Break Round Here

Ed did say that this was his favorite song of the album, but by this time he’s said that about maybe 3 or 4 tracks, sooooo we’re just going to accept the fact that he can’t show favoritism with his babies. That’s okay.

This track came a bit later, and was an “Ed production” as well, meaning that it was %100 Ed-produced, written and recorded. He wrote it on his kitchen table, remarking that he often “finds the best songs- like happier- where it’s not structured.”

What Do I Know?

This song was Ed’s way of having a say in politics.

We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one man show
No university no degree but lord knows
Everybody’s talking about exponential growth
And the stock market crashing and their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Saying love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?

Many a British artist can get confused about the craziness of American politics. I mean, even American politicians can get confused about it sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I love how Ed has put his two cents in. He describes this song as a “knee-jerk reaction” to what happened last year. “It’s me looking at the world and being like, we’re not doing too well here, are we?” I appreciate Ed giving us some perspective, and as always, backed up by a catchy beat.

How Would You Feel

I was a little iffy about the new album when I heard “Shape Of You”- I thought, this could go either way. I hoped Ed hadn’t gotten sucked into the swirling vortex of pop music. But after hearing this song, I was confident that Ed would never do that to us.

Another classic love song to add to Ed’s collection of perfect wedding songs. He was asking Cherry what her favorite song of the album was, and she replied with, “my favorite song, you don’t even know it exists.” So, she found it in her email and played it to him. As it turns out, he had written it a while back, recorded it on his iPhone, sent it to her, and forgotten about it. Thanks to his girlfriend, we get to enjoy this gorgeous ballad.

Another fun fact! Ed said that while he was trying to get the guitar solo down, he wasn’t satisfied and kept thinking about how only John Mayer could do it well. And since he’s lucky enough to have John’s number, he called him up. The brilliant guitar solos that you are graced with in this track is the John Mayer.

The last song and the four bonus tracks will be covered in Part 2.

 

÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album, Part 2

Supermarket Flowers

In a previous album, Ed had released “Afire Love,” one of my favorite songs of his, as a tribute to his late grandfather on his father’s side. Here is another song about a grandparent, this time about his late grandmother on his mother’s side.

His grandmother was very ill and passed away when he was making the record. At first, he wasn’t going to release this song, but was encouraged to do so by his father and grandfather after he had played it at the funeral. A beautiful song, written from the perspective of his mom.

So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

Save Myself

Another one of those songs that make you sort of rethink your life. Thanks, Ed.

I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain
Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain
What line do we stand upon cause from here it looks the same?
And only scars remain

Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels
I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills
And all the ones that love me, they just left me on the shelf, no farewell
So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself

Nancy Mulligan

If you’re listening to this after “Save Myself,” it’s a bit random and out of place. Yet, it fits. Perhaps it’s a cousin to “Galway Girl”?

This was basically Ed telling the love story of his grandparents. The whole thing was a true story, which makes it a thousand times better.

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

Let me just say, wouldn’t we all want to have a grandson like Ed?

Bibia Be Ye Ye

After the opening lines about losing his shoes and not knowing where he put his keys, I was hooked by how relatable this song sounds, you know?

Someone told me, always say what’s on your mind
And I am only, being honest with you, I I get lonely
And make mistakes from time to time
Se enioma enko ye 
Bibia Be Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye

Okay, let’s translate. “Se enioma enko ye” means “if things aren’t working out,” and “bibia be ye ye” means “everything will be alright.” It’s not just a bunch of random cool sounds.

This is another ode to Ed’s year of travels, because it was recorded in Africa.

Barcelona

This song was going to be the first single, but ended up as a bonus track, and I’m not really sure why, because it’s awesome. I mean, not only is it one of Ed’s catchiest songs, but he even speaks spanish in it! He said that he was in Barcelona about to make the video when he got a call that his album wasn’t good enough yet. He said that his managers “know that if you put pressure on me, the songs will come.” At that point, he kept writing, and was happy he did, because he came up with an album he is really proud of.

For the full interview (it’s an hour long; I watched it so you don’t have to, but you do you), see below:

Zane Lowe Divide Interview

 

Whistle Magazine

 

My photography professor gave a final assignment. The theme? Anything I wanted. So, I made a fake magazine.

My made-up “Whistle Magazine” was basically me cutting up photos I had taken of my sister and cousin, adding little watercolor embellishments and writing song lyrics for the text. I wish I could post photos of the actual magazine layout, but they didn’t photograph too well, so I decided to just showcase the actual photo shoot.

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New Products! Lightbulb Design on Society6

 

A new product design is now available in my Society 6 store! So excited, this is the first of a series of designs I am launching to revamp my Society 6 account. Please check out the store for the above products in various sizes and colors, as well as other designs and products to chose from! Also, stay tuned for more stuff being posted!

Artsyrosebud on Society 6

*Disclaimer: Though I do earn a couple bucks every time something is purchased from me on Society6 (the more expensive the product, the more I get), it’s only a fraction of the cost. These products are super high quality so you will get your money’s worth (make sure to watch the product videos!), but I will only get about 1/5th of the earnings. Hopefully someday I will be able to print my own products and sell them directly, but until then Society6 is a great place to start and to see what products people like and what they don’t. Just an fyi!

Finding Dory | Movie Review

(The following review is absolutely spoiler-free!!!)

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My grandma, mom and I went to see “Finding Dory” to finish off the celebration of my 18th birthday. We almost didn’t go, because we hadn’t heard much about it besides the fact that it was existing. But I wanted to see it no matter how good it may turn out to be. I mean, we’ve waited 13 years for this!

“Finding Dory” did not disappoint. I loved it! It was everything I needed it to be, having grown up with the last movie. It gave us everything we loved about “Finding Nemo,” with new surprises. Made us feel happy, sad, stressed, excited, and happy again. As can be expected from a movie about Dory, there were plenty of laughs. I was also impressed with the love-able new characters, the animation that seemed advanced yet consistent with the previous installment, and the story line that always kept you guessing.

Pixar did it again!

Below is an entry into my little notebook of movie reviews. I wrote it late at night so hopefully you can read my handwriting!

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Hillside Farmacy

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My family and I recently made an overnight trip to Austin. While we were there, we visited the cutest little restaurant called Hillside Farmacy. Obviously, it’s a play on “pharmacy”, and that is because the building used to be a drugstore. But the place still sells specialty food items like sauces on the original 1950’s shelving. The place is easy to miss, but totally photographable. Plus, the food’s great!

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The Hillside Farmacy Website

Iron Man | Speed Drawing

Here’s the process of how I did my Iron Man digital painting via Photoshop. I included all the Photoshop tools and menus in the video so you can see the technical side, or you could just sit back and watch Tony Stark take shape!

Let me know if you have any requests for more characters or people you would like to see my draw!

I started with a pencil sketch of Tony, then I went over it with a pen, and scanned it onto my computer. What you see in the video is the coloring process!

Feel free to check out the rest of my channel, there’s more speed paintings (that are kinda old but oh well) and travel diaries from my Europe trip!

Enjoy!

 

My Vienna, Austria Travel Diary

 

Here it is! The third installment of my Europe Travel Diary 2015! (I know, it took me that long to upload this haha!)

This footage was taken when my family and I visited my aunt and uncle in Vienna, Austria in November. My mom helped me film this, so you’ll see me a lot more in the footage. Hope you enjoy!

Filmed with the iPhone 5c and iPhone 6.

The links to the other two Europe travel diaries are at the end of the video.

Deep Quotes from Surprising Sources

Pinterest and Tumblr are full of all kinds of inspiring quotes. But here are some quotes from some very unlikely sources.

(These were all designed by yours truly… just to let you know.)

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“If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be better than who you are.”-Shifu, Kung Fu Panda 3. Kung Fu Panda has a surprising abundance of deepness within its kung-fu-fighting, dumpling-eatingness.

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Okay, so this quote is not from Wall-E himself. It’s from the Captain in Wall-E. You remember him? ExactlyGaga copy.jpg

Don’t be fooled, ya’ll.

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Courtesy of the Hannah Montanah movie. Full of deep.

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Kanye is the deepest. #votekanye2016 (just kidding, please don’t.)

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And here we find some wisdom from a rap on Justin Bieber’s song “As Long as You Love Me.”