Her Spark asks Abbey Janson, former Her Spark intern and owner of AJ Creations, Five Questions. Here's what she had to say!
Q1: Who is your favorite female role model and why?
A great female role model that I look up to professionally is Deanna Marsigliese. She is a Character Art Director for Disney, and she has made work for the recent movie Soul and an upcoming movie Luca. She does some amazing work - both on the screen and with more traditional mediums of art. While her art is amazing, I mostly look up to her because she is not afraid to be herself and believes beauty can be found anywhere. That is a perspective I try to keep and adopt when making my art and in living.
Another female role model I look up to is my mom. She always thinks of others and what she can do for them in times of need. Also, she allows me to make my own decisions and encourages me to take my own path, even when I sometimes make those paths more complicated than they really need to be.
Q2: What are you reading right now? Or what's next on your reading list?
Ever since I was young, I have been an avid reader. I believe that reading has fueled my imagination and that both fiction and non-fiction books contribute to the storytelling in my art and my animations. Often my “tbr” seems never-ending, but the books I am planning to reading this summer are:
The Institute By Stephen King
2. The Midnight Library By Matt Haig
3. Beyond Order by Jordan B. Peterson
4. The Art of Woo by G. Richard Shell, Mario Moussa
Q3: What's the best career or academic advice you ever received?
The best career advice I have ever received is to “live my own life and not somebody else's.” For a long time, I was adamant that I was going to be an engineer. I always enjoyed many aspects of engineering, but I always felt like something was missing. I realized that the parts of engineering I enjoyed was the creative and design elements involved and I had always loved drawing and making art, so I started looking at some other possibilities. When I chose animation, I was worried what people would think because I had been so certain of my original choice. The phrase of "starving artist" was being thrown around as half-joke by some, and engineering was also seen as a prestigious career to those around me. When I talked to my school counselor about this dilemma, she told me that at the end of the day I should do what I think is best for me, and that sticks with me even today.
Q4: Her Spark's mission is to equip girls with the STEM skills and opportunities to succeed in the careers of tomorrow - dedicated to solving gender disparity in computer science, engineering, and technology careers. What does the Her Spark mission mean to you?
The HerSpark Mission is something that is very close to me. In high school I was a part of my schools STEM program, and my experiences there have had a great impact on me. I remember when I first went to the STEM orientation my school had where we could explore the different pathway options we could take. A couple of friends and I chose the engineering classes to take. I remember that in the beginning there were only 4 girls out of about 30 people in the class, and everyone (teachers included) immediately noticed that difference.
As time went on it was nice to see more girls choose the engineering course, and even become leaders for the TSA Club (the class technology club). That is the kind of change that HerSpark is helping to bring and it's important. Girls need to know that a scientific or technological pathway is out there for them, and that they can succeed in them.
Q5: What is your favorite part of Summer Summit? If you haven’t attended before, what are looking forward to the most?
My favorite part of the Summer Summit, having experienced it as a volunteer and intern, is seeing all the girls that are excited about STEM, especially when I think about that first engineering class experience. For me, HerSpark and the Summer Summit is a chance to give back and pass on the encouragement teachers and instructors in my STEM program gave to me.
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About Her Spark
Founded in 2017 by professional women and business leaders, Her Spark is dedicated to solving gender disparity in computer science, engineering and technology careers. Her Spark’s mission is to equip girls with the skills and opportunities to succeed in the careers of tomorrow. For more information, to learn ways to get involved or to make a donation, please visit HerSpark.org.