Black #PROFspective: Senior Art Major Ugonna Ugorji

Ugonna poses on the sidewalk in front of Westby Hall.

Today we speak to Ugonna Ugorji, a senior Art major and commuter from Willingboro, NJ (Burlington County). Ugonna is a transfer student from Mercer County Community College.

Thank you to Tatianna Addison, senior communications studies major from Browns Mills, NJ (Burlington County), for this series idea to honor Black students during Black History Month. 

Ugonna poses in front of a brick wall.

What is your student experience here at Rowan like, as a Black student at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution)?

My experience at this school has been pretty exciting. You may say that Rowan is a “PWI,” but in my opinion, it has just the right amount of diversity in an institution. Being a Black art major and having a series of professors left and right, they have all pushed me to be the best that I can and to hone my “still developing” artistic talents.

How did you find your friend group here at Rowan?

Well, I’ve interacted with people who have the same or even similar interests I have.

Ugonna holds up two of his drawings.

Are you involved with Black Rowan?

I’m not that involved with Black Rowan unfortunately, but I would love to do more!

How would you describe inclusion? Could you highlight a Rowan classroom or campus experience that was inclusive and made an impact on you?

I would say being a part of the Expressive Drawing class that is run by Dr. Appelson. That man wants all his students to be the best at what they can do, and he will not hesitate to harshly critique your work. Instead of [letting] that make me feel insecure about my art, it made me realize that everyone has their own way of expressing themselves. Some may not like what you do or understand it, but that shouldn’t stop you from being you.

Ugonna holds up a piece of his art work.

What advice would you give to a Black high school student considering your major here at Rowan?

If you’re an aspiring artist like myself and if you take Expressive Drawing with Dr. Appelson, don’t take it personally if he roasts certain assignments of yours. He knows you can do better, [you] just gotta push yourself.

What are your professional goals?

My professional goals are to become a full-fledged graphic designer/game designer. At my last institution, my major was Game Design, so I learned a few things here and there. I was disappointed when Rowan didn’t have a Game Design major so I initially went into Computer Science, thinking it was the same thing. I quickly changed my major to Art for the second semester. I feel I have a knack for character designs, in my own style, of course, so I can combine my graphic arts skills and create video game characters. That’ll be pretty cool.

Like what you see?

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

Photos by:
Joe Gentempo, senior art major

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