Catalina Olvera '19

Name: Catalina Zavala Olvera '19
Residence: Columbia, South Carolina
Major: Graphic design
Occupation: Junior designer, Yellow Duck Marketing

Catalina Zavala Olvera '19 proudly incorporates her Mexican culture into her designs: the textures, the concepts, the traditions. She explored the arts in high school and knew it was a career path she wanted to pursue. 

“The Winthrop environment is very welcoming and supporting,” said the graphic design major. “From my experience, students are always ready to help another when struggling or coming across a difficult time. I had looked at other campuses for graphic design programs that taught more than just the ability to design something conventional. 

“Winthrop's design program teaches us how to think about real-world problems in an innovative and challenging way. The design professors not only help us with our work, but with our future careers and lives.” 

One of those faculty members is Jason Tselentis, an associate professor of design, who praised Olvera's confidence and her “concept-first” approach. Under his tutelage, Olvera won the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Charlotte chapter's inaugural Design Continuum Fund. 

“Design education is really important,” she said. “It's not only to better your style, it's to better how you think about facing a challenge.” 

Olvera's parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico before she was born, the extent of their education a sole high school diploma between the two of them. She and her nine siblings first lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania, before moving to Gilbert, South Carolina. Her parents worked various jobs, including mushroom farming, cleaning and construction, which were very physically demanding, to pay the bills and put food on the table. 

“Nothing inspires me more during a difficult time to keep persevering than knowing my parents had to go through much more than I will ever have to,” she said. “I'm very proud of my parents and all they have accomplished.” 

The feeling is mutual – her parents were at Olvera's May 4 graduation, cheering her on as she crossed the Winthrop Coliseum stage. 

She's now a junior designer at Yellow Duck Marketing.

“I like to greet life with open arms, so we shall see wherever life takes me,” she said. “It was the help from family and strangers in this country that allowed us to succeed, besides how hard my parents worked. That is something I want to keep alive, the community to help build and support each other when in need.”