Student Stories: Sophia Ricciardi

Sophia Ricciardi

Major: Graphic Design

Sophia Ricciardi grew up in a household that encouraged her to create.

“My dad began his career as a contractor and taught me a lot about the art in building and construction,” she said. “My mom always provided me with materials to create whatever I chose. I would make paper dresses for my siblings, paint pictures, write stories in crayon, make elaborate sidewalk chalk drawings, create clay figurines and just doodle on whatever paper was at hand.

“I was also constantly surrounded by good food in my Italian household. Both my grandmas and my parents are amazing cooks, and almost everything I know came from watching them in the kitchen. I’m so fortunate to have been surrounded by people who always let me achieve my dreams to the best of my ability, and this still holds true today.”

Scholars Awards at COD

Ricciardi heard about College of DuPage’s Graphic Design program from her school counselor and realized it was a career that would allow her to continue creating. She was named a Presidential Scholar, a full-tuition scholarship that includes membership in the Honors program and Phi Theta Kappa. The award also meant she could save money for her transfer school.

In four semesters, Ricciardi learned more than she ever imagined about graphic design.

“Because physical art, like painting and pottery, was my passion in high school, I never attempted digital media,” she said. “Thanks to the amazing professors in the Graphic Design program, my knowledge drastically improved after I started.”

Thanks to the amazing professors in the Graphic Design program, I feel my knowledge drastically improved after I started.

Sophia Ricciardi

As she learned new skills, new opportunities began to appear. Ricciardi became co-president of AIGA, the student graphic design organization, and was selected for a graphic design internship through the InternPlus program with Innovation DuPage (ID), a nonprofit organization co-founded by COD that provides programming for startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

ID then connected Ricciardi to Joe Barron, founder of Gray Matters Games and one of ID’s member companies, to help him at a toy and game fair. 

“After pitching, playing and then selling numerous GMG games, Joe reached out a few weeks later asking me to be a part of his company as an intern,” she said. “I have been working with both ID and GMG to produce some pretty amazing things. Now I am interning for GMG during the upcoming summer and even during my time at Columbia College.”

In earning her Associate in Applied Science degree, Ricciardi was named one of COD’s outstanding graduate finalists. She is transferring to study graphic design at Columbia, and her dream job would allow her to work remotely so she can travel, another one of her passions.

Ricciardi is grateful for her COD experience and all the opportunities she received.

“COD is great for students who aren’t confident in what they want to do, students who could use help financially, and just overall a great start for anyone wanting to transfer to a four-year college, especially through COD’s 2+2 programs with many four-year institutions,” she said. “I feel myself getting one step closer to achieving my dreams every day. Graphic design wasn’t my passion until I began in the program, and now I dream in graphic design!”

Learn more about the Graphic Design program at College of DuPage