As someone who has long loved the arts, including painting and drawing, Sian Billings knew upon graduating from high school that she wanted to pursue an artistic field in college.
“I’m a very creative person,” she says. “But I didn’t know what creative field to start with or go into, so I kind of felt confused and not sure which path to take. Then I found out about the Silas Craft Collegians Program and how it could help me.”
Billings learned that a core part of the program included creating a community for students to receive support, discover their potential, and map out their education and career goals. For Billings, the program sounded like a good fit to help determine her next steps while receiving extra support and resources. It was a unique opportunity that she had not seen offered in other regional colleges. So she enrolled at Howard Community College specifically to become a Silas Craft Collegian, commuting from the Pikesville area to attend classes.
Now in her third year at HCC and in the program, Billings speaks highly of her experience.
“Silas Craft has helped me grow myself, my knowledge of what I’d like to do, and help support my creative career and academic career,” she says.
Through the program, Billings undertook career-building and exploratory exercises that helped her fine-tune her future goals. She also took advantage of mentoring and tutoring and found friendship in a community of collegians going through similar experiences of figuring out their future paths.
“In the Silas Craft program, the collaboration and connection among students is amazing,” she says. “Your cohort becomes your support line, and they are there for you.”
When she struggled with math courses, and felt discouraged by the difficulty, fellow participants in the program who excelled at math stepped up to help her and tutoring sessions provided additional assistance.
From instilling strong organizational skills and study habits to providing guidance and encouragement to work toward her goals, Billings attributes the program for helping her create a “pathway to success.”
“If you don’t really know what you want to do or if you’re unsure or a little iffy of what your next steps are, the Silas Craft program provides support, guidance, and community, as well as opportunities for self-reflection, self-knowledge and self-growth,” she says. “I know I have grown a lot.”
At HCC, Billings took courses that provided her first hands-on experiences with digital design and animation. She now plans to transition to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and hopes to work in animation, immersive design, or digital media, creating animations for movies or virtual reality designs.
“Sometimes people have a perspective that community college and programs like Silas Craft Collegians fall behind four-year universities, but these opportunities are really underestimated,” Billings says. “You don’t have to jump into a four-year college. You can take the time to grow yourself and find out what you really love before furthering your academic and professional career.”
Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.