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    Nova Alumni Story: Alex Williams
    Posted on 07/08/2015
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    Nova Alumni Stories: Alex Williams

    Graduated 2004

    Coordinator: Mark Perry

    *What brought you to NOVA?

    I started out at Roosevelt High School. My grades were good but I didn’t feel that their art programs were satisfactory and wasn’t interested in other activities there. I had a friend who went to NOVA and when he told me how much autonomy students were given there, I was pretty much sold.

    *How did Nova prepare you for the next part of your journey? 

    It seemed like such a sweet deal at NOVA, I couldn’t believe people weren’t all rushing to transfer there. It’s not typical that teenagers are given so much control over their education. I got to decide when and where and how I would I would learn. I could be as lazy as I wanted to be or I could push myself to achieve more. Either way, I was responsible for my personal outcome, no one else. That’s the way the real world is. You’re responsible for you.

    *What did you do you did after graduation?

    I got in to three different art colleges. One was too expensive. The other two we could afford, so my choice came down to moving to Oakland, CA or London, UK. I guess you could say it was pretty impulsive, but I moved to London and never regretted it for a second.

    I did my degree in Design for Communication (fancy word for Graphic Design). In the end however, I decided I didn’t really have a passion for it. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would have gone with what I was actually good at (Illustration) and not what I thought would make me more money.

    After college I worked in a bar for a while and eventually came across a job as a teaching assistant at a local high school. I worked in the art department assisting students with special educational needs. Over there special education is what they call ‘inclusive,’ so there are no special separate rooms for people with disabilities. Everyone attends the same classes as everyone else; some students just get extra attention from someone like me. That experience is what got me on the path to where I am now.

    *What are you currently involved with?

    Now I live in San Francisco and run an art studio for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We’re part of a larger nonprofit lifelong learning center called The Arc San Francisco. It’s very rewarding work but of course some days are a challenge. I guess that’s what keeps me interested. I’m happy because I get to do what comes natural to me with the art but I also get to go home and feel like I’ve done something good for the world.

    *What are your plans for the future?

    I might like to move to a new city (or maybe back to Seattle) and open my own art studio doing the same thing I do here. Really I just try to always keep doing what makes me happy and I’m good with that.

    *If any, what advice do you have for Nova students, or prospective students?

    Enjoy your freedom but don’t pretend to know everything. Be open and kind and always listen. It’s easy to dismiss someone for being young and naïve or old and out of touch, but wisdom doesn’t know age or experience. You can learn something from everyone.

    Career wise, find out what you’re good at and do that with everything you’ve got. 

    See more of Alex Williams' work & studio here:


    Set Design

    Sewing Class

    Interview by Benjamin Verdoes Nova High School 2014