Senior Spotlight: Alanna Tran


Christine Nguyen, Co-Editor-in-Chief

  Alanna Tran (12) is a senior who is regularly active in the art community at West. I interviewed Alanna about her high school experience and what she is planning for her future.

Q: Are there any specific accomplishments or experiences that really stood out to you during high school so far?

A: At West, I did AP Studio Art my junior year which was really challenging because the class moves really quickly and it was junior year so I was really busy academically with SAT tests and tough academics classes. It was a lot of work and I had to dedicate practically my entire weekend to just painting nonstop so that I wouldn’t fall behind. Balancing all that work with my other classes and outside activities was hard but I still managed to do well in my classes and get 5’s on my AP tests!

Q: Was there any significant art project or event that was really hard to balance with your academics, but you managed to pull through?

A: My AP Studio Art concentration! That was so difficult. It was a series of fifteen paintings I had to do, all due one week after the other. All fifteen paintings had to follow the same theme, idea, or storyline and I had to make something new for it each week. Basically for fifteen weeks I was just painting away the entire weekend. It was so much work. (laughs)

Q: Did you ever feel discouraged or hopeless juggling all that you do?

A: Yeah I felt like it was never going to end, haha. My AP concentration took 15 weeks, but I also had to do the AP breadth, which took 10 weeks. The AP Studio Art schedule is non-stop project after project, each due one week after the other. I was painting every weekend and it got really exhausting, but in the end seeing everything come together was so satisfying. And I got a 5 on the test and a pretty good body of work out of it, so it felt worth it after all that.

Q: Did you learn any type of lesson or picker upper, if you will, from your experience of taking AP Studio Art with all your AP classes?

A: I guess like, to have confidence in yourself? For both my AP tests last year, I didn’t think that I did well on them. I thought my art portfolio was weak and I thought the AP lang test was really difficult. So I was really surprised that I got 5’s on both. And even though I was taking challenging classes while balancing all my art stuff, I really wasn’t sure if I would do well in either of them since I was so busy. But in the end I surprised myself. Now, I kind of know that I have the ability to do all that, and it taught me to trust in myself and my abilities a little more.

Q: What would you do differently if you could go back in time and relive those weeks?

A: Maybe pick a different concentration theme, or work harder at my breadth and make them stronger by spending more time on it and make it more interesting.

Q: Can you expand on what a ‘breadth’ is?

A: The AP Studio Art test isn’t a physical test that you sit down and take. Instead, you turn a huge portfolio of 23 pieces. So the portfolio is broken up into two parts: breadth and concentration. 10 breadth pieces demonstrating your technical skill and 13 concentration pieces. so at west, to put together our portfolio for the test, we spend about 3 months doing breadth pieces and about 5 months doing concentration pieces. So everything I talked about earlier in this interview was the concentration portion of the class for the portfolio, where I spent 15 weeks putting together a series of pieces for the AP portfolio.

Q: Did you look up or look to anyone or anything for inspiration during that time?

A: Some of the seniors in my class last year who were doing AP art with me were really supportive of me and they also had really good work so i looked forward to seeing their new pieces every week. And at the end of the year we all became good friends.

Q: How did your situation with the AP Studio Art concentration & classes contribute to your future?

A: It made me realize that I like art and everything, but art in an academic setting is really different. Like getting graded on your artwork is a lot different from making your own things just for fun. And I’ve taken a lot of extracurricular art classes and stuff too so that all kind of prepared me for majoring in art for college.

Q: What are your plans for college?

A: I’m planning on majoring in art. I applied to UCs and Cal States, and one art school called School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I got accepted into SAIC for early non-binding decision and I received merit scholarship, and I really like the school and the curriculum so I’m heavily considering going there. I’m tied between UCLA and SAIC, I don’t know which one is my TOP school yet, so I’m waiting to hear back on UCLA to see what happens. If I get into UCLA, I’ll have to pick between SAIC and UCLA, but if I don’t get into UCLA, I’ll most likely go to SAIC.

Q: Are there any other recent experiences that you would like to share?

A: Hmm, recently? Senior year has been pretty busy for me so far haha I was doing college apps in October and November so that took up a LOT of time. 2 days ago though I found out I received some awards from the Scholastic Art and Writing competition. So a month ago I entered the contest and turned in some work and then the results came out 2 days ago and I received an honorable mention for the portfolio I turned in, an honorable mention for a comic I made, and a Silver Key for another comic I made (Silver key is basically like a silver prize. It goes honorable mention, Silver Key, then Gold Key as highest). So that was pretty cool!

Q: How has your perspective of art changed over the years?

A: I definitely became a lot more serious about it, especially when i started high school. It went from hobby I wanted to pursue to academic and career path.

Alanna serves as the perfect portrait of what it means to pursue what you love. By choosing a less conventional route in life, she will not follow the path laid out for her. Instead, she is painting her own.