The honest answer? I had planned to run away to Europe/New York as soon as possible after high school graduation (like so many others) but my plans were curtailed so I decided to go to Winthrop. It was close to where I lived, affordable, and the arts program was accredited. Before most people start school they have no idea of what they are getting themselves into. Luckily for me, Winthrop exceeded my expectations. I basically did what I had planned to do in the first place only backwards: Winthrop, New York, and now Europe.
I had always wanted to be an artist and I was influenced by a book my family owned about the history of art. Because of this book I thought artist=painter. Later, when studying at Winthrop I realized I didn't even like canvas (sorry canvas lovers)! Anyway, I was still able to explore painting on wood, objects, paper etc. and that freedom helped me a great deal. My degree in painting is combined with printmaking which was another bit of Winthrop flexibility that I enjoyed.
I am currently a full time artist after working in various art related fields. After school I worked at the High Museum in Atlanta as an arts coordinator for large exhibitions, and in New York as an public relations liaison for culture and then as a registrar at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. All the while I was making artwork in my studio. Now that I live in Berlin, I work on my solo exhibitions (they include painting, performance, and video), participate in various art shows and contribute artwork for books and magazines. Being at Winthrop I never felt limited. I was also helped a great deal by the people I went to school with as well as certain professors. When I was at Winthrop we created our own student shows, went to other cities to look at art, talked about art a lot, and oftentimes worked outside of the parameters of our "majors". We also created an arts club to pull all the strands together. Ultimately, this was not only extremely beneficial to my education but has also been key to my career as a professional.