Brayan Zavala is very aware of the value of the education he’s received since immigrating with his parents from Mexico when he was just one year old.
Making the move at such an early age gave Zavala the opportunity to learn the English language. But by the time he began school, his parents were still learning and often were frustrated navigating an unfamiliar educational system.
Now, as a first-generation college student, he is using his graphic design and photography skills to help other families that are in a similar situation.
Through a class research project, Zavala is designing methods for immigrant Latino parents to help their children with English reading proficiency so they become more successful in American schools.
“I have a brother in the ninth grade,” he says. “And I want to make sure he gets all the help he needs.”
Some of Zavala’s ideas include designing a guide in Spanish for parents to help their children learn and a book-writing workshop to put reading and writing skills into action.
During his sophomore year, Zavala lost his father to cancer, giving him yet another mission for his work—to communicate about cancer awareness and research.
“I really want to help others going through this,” he says.
He hopes to dedicate his senior thesis to the cause of raising awareness and researching ways to motivate people. It is important to him that people get checked for cancer before it’s too late.
In the future, Zavala hopes to continue using his design and communication skills to aid social causes. Designers often talk about how design is more than just aesthetics; great design, they say, makes a difference and can change lives. It’s a lesson Zavala has taken to heart.
Photo by Dustin Brown