A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Meet the Graduating Class


Constanza Mendoza (MA 2019)

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela

Three words that describe you: My friends say that I'm a "fake Virgo," curious, and a coffee-lover.

Most memorable moment at SAIC: Listening to an artist and educator I have admired for a very long time speak in a room usually used to eat and talk with friends.

Something you learned at SAIC: I have expanded my ways of learning by working as a graduate curatorial assistant in the Sullivan Galleries and as a teaching assistant for the Continuing Studies office.

Favorite class or teacher: Gibran Villalobos' Arts Organizations in Society, Kate Dumbleton's Management Studio I-II, and Magdalena Moskalewicz's Post-Critical Museology have been meaningful classes to me.

What inspires you: A summer night’s breeze, the smell of (good) coffee, “Quinta Anauco” by Aldemaro Romero, full moons, and the smell of tea leaf candles.

One sentence that describes your work: Juggling multiple roles to make exhibitions happen.

Advice for incoming students: Casual conversations are never casual.


Leana Leon Yonan (BFA 2019)

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Three words that describe you: Funny, caring, and analytical.

Most memorable moment at SAIC: One of my favorite moments at SAIC was helping Freshmen Fellows develop a first-generation peer mentorship program here at SAIC.

Favorite class or teacher: One of my favorite teachers here at SAIC has to be Beth Hetland (Writing). Beth truly cares for each of her students, and I'm just so happy I was able to take classes with her. I struggled to figure out what to do with my practice after SAIC and she has prepared me for that.

What inspires you: My Assyrian identity and how I can create representation through my art. Exploring my identity as a Middle Eastern American and the struggles and confusion that comes with that.

Dream job: Working in animation as a character designer, 3D modeler, or making comics and publishing my own graphic novel.

Advice for incoming students: Please just take your time and enjoy every single second here at SAIC.


Nicole Grace Doran (MFA 2019)

Hometown: Miami

Three words that describe you: Brazen, honest, and loyal

Most memorable moment at SAIC: Hanging out with friends on the 15th floor of MacLean, overlooking the city skyline.

Something you learned at SAIC: That I am a good art teacher.

Favorite class or teacher: The materials lab in the Painting and Drawing department. It has proven to be one of the most interesting spaces to learn about the history and physical attributes of paint.

One sentence that describes your work: Cyber-craft.

Dream job: To run my own painting studio.

Advice for incoming students: Be as kind as possible to each other; support each other at all costs.


Juan Arango Palacios (BFA 2019)

Hometown: Pereira, Colombia

Three words that describe you: Charismatic, driven, and dynamic.

Most memorable moment at SAIC: Planning and hosting the 2018 Decolonization Dinner. It was an extremely memorable and rewarding night full of great discourse and tasty food.

Something you learned at SAIC: I know myself better: I know how to love and accept myself. I gained the confidence and assurance to carry myself as a queer person, artist, immigrant, and as everything I am.

Favorite class or teacher: Daniel R. Quiles (Art History, Theory, and Criticism) is an amazing professor who shows a great amount of care and appreciation for students that engage with his course work.

What inspires you: I am inspired by my past, my culture, my people, my languages, and my lived experiences. My family is extremely important to me, and much of my practice is informed by family history.

Advice for incoming students: You want to get shown? You want to get published? You want an internship? You better work!