Justin Li, '98
Darren Li, '06
Vassar College, Class of 2004 - BA Art History
Current City: San Diego
Occupation: Graphic and Web Designer, Owner - Akula Kreative
What do you value most from your time at Bishops?I value the teachers and coaches. I had no idea how well prepared I was for college until I got there. In all honesty, college was much easier than high school (in more ways than one). I actually came back and coached field hockey at Bishop's after college, so I was able to experience the school from "the other side." In that case, the KIDS were the best part. I couldn't help but laugh every time the girls asked if they could do homework when we arrived early at the field. Aww, Bishop's...
What would you like to forget?AP Chem, and the grade that came with it.
What are you favorite memories?
I loved that I had the opportunity to play a variety of sports. Seeing as I was about 4 feet tall until sophomore year, it's amazing I could even make a team. I have my coaches to thank for giving me the confidence to grow into an athlete.
My favorite moment as an alumna is seeing the look on Mrs. Breher's face as I drove a van full of JV field hockey players through the front parking lot. I believe she notified the athletic department that day, telling them "students are NOT allowed to drive the school vans!"
Were there any teacher/coaches who inspired you? Do you keep in touch with any of them?
Dr. Mower was the reason I majored in Art History in college. I will never forget H (Mr. Hendrickson), my English teacher and field hockey coach. I heard he came back to Bishop's, so I guess I should pay him a visit! I was happy to see that Mr. Hartman was still teaching (and continuing to scare away prospective students), but sad, of course, that the Bishop's community lost Dr. Sturgis.
I played field hockey, lacrosse, basketball*, and softball. Between school and sports, I didn't have much time for anything else. If I had any spare time, I probably spent it on the phone or in my bed.
*My high school basketball "career" ended my sophomore year when I realized I wasn't going to grow beyond 5 feet. (My mediocre dribbling skills were not about to make up for what I lacked in height, either.)
Do you still keep in touch with classmates?
Of course. I'm still in touch with many of my classmates. In fact, three of my bridesmaids are friends from Bishop's.
What led you to your college or graduate school?
I received a letter from Vassar after playing in a field hockey tournament, so I applied. I knew nothing about the school, but I figured one more app wouldn't hurt. When I was accepted, my parents made me go there. Thankfully, it turned out well, and I had an unforgettable college experience.
What led you to your particular field of study?
I've been interested in art (and architecture) for as long as I can remember. Dr. Mower, however, made me fall in love with the study of it. Vassar is known for its art department, so I was in the perfect place to continue my studies in that area.
Did you enjoy these experiences?
My parents always told me that college would be the best time of my life. They were right. I had an opportunity to study something I loved, live with my friends in a beautiful setting, play sports, determine my own schedule, and travel abroad. I can't think of anything more appealing.
The transition from Bishop's to college was easy. At Bishop's, I was out of the house from 6am to 6pm every day, only to go home to more work. At college, my schedule really opened up and I had plenty of time to get everything done (even when I was playing a sport). I distinctly remember being able to breeze through research papers because the infamous MLA Handbook had by that time been carved deeply into my brain. The transition from college to the "real world" has been a little different—namely due to the fact that I've had so much support from my family that I wouldn't consider my life reflective of most people's "real world" experiences. I WILL say that the biggest shock coming out of college was realizing how apathetic most people are about their jobs.
Bishop's has definitely prepared me for the physical, intellectual, and moral challenges of life. To this day, I ask myself how I survived my high school schedule. There is no way I could endure 6 hours of class, 2 hours of exercise, 2 hours of traffic, and 4 hours of homework 5 days a week. I don't know how I did it.
Tell us a bit about your work/company.
About two years ago, I started my own graphic and web design business called Akula Kreative. After several years of working in marketing and the arts, I realized that my career was missing something fundamental to my personality: creativity. So, I hit the re-start button and decided to become an entrepreneur. I now offer a wide range of graphic and web design services to small businesses in San Diego, and I love it. My newest project is an off-shoot of Akula Kreative called Pretty Peas Paperie; it focuses more on custom, hand-made goods rather than digital media.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I spend my time outside of work experimenting with various art projects, playing with my dog, eating, running (to offset the eating), and spending time with my fiance, Andrew.