Former Campus Life Editor Haley Vallejo is an artist in many forms; whether it be whipping up an article or working on a graphic design piece, she can do it all. She is someone who can brighten up a room the second she walks in, and always makes sure to lead with kindness. The best way to describe Vallejo would be a leader who is not afraid to take chances and for what she believes in.
The journey of this first-generation student started four years ago, when she toured Whittier College and felt right at home. She had never seen Southern California private schools as an option for herself until she found out about Whittier College through a family friend. Since then, Vallejo has made herself a prominent presence on campus by taking on a variety of roles that serve different aspects of the community. In her second year, she took on a POET Internship at the Office of Equity and Inclusion, where she created and managed the marketing materials for the OEI and learned how to make the marketing accessible and inclusive. Vallejo joined the Metaphonian Society — a female society dedicated to empowering women and helping the community — the same year. She would later become President of the society and be named the 2021 Met of the Year. Vallejo was also inducted into Sigma Tau Delta — the International English Society — at Whittier in her last semester at the College.
Being a big planner, Vallejo set specific goals for herself in her first year at Whittier, and proudly disclosed that she accomplished everything on the list. “I wanted to graduate early, get an internship, and be president of the Metaphonian Society. I wanted to give back to my community, and I did that by working at the OEI and internships they provided me with. I feel very accomplished leaving Whittier College.”
Vallejo originally declared Computer Science as her major, but soon discovered the Whittier Scholars Program, which would let her design her own major. She created a graphic design major for herself — something she had no idea could be a career path — and the rest is history. When talking to Vallejo about animation and her art career, the energy shifted. The amount of passion that she has for this path is something that can only be described as moving and inspirational.
In her third year at WC, Vallejo was a summer intern for Nickelodeon, where she helped with development and outreach to ensure that diverse voices were being heard in animation. Being an animator has always been a dream for her, and she found this form of art as her calling at Whittier. Vallejo started off with traditional art — drawing and painting — but she would eventually switch over to digital art, and this is where her passion resides. “I’ve always said that I wanted to be an animator, but I didn’t think it was achievable,” said Vallejo. “It wasn’t until recently that I figured out there are people like me who are in animation and finding their voices and speaking up in mainstream media.”
Vallejo’s long-term goal is to become a producer and join the few Mexican women who have accomplished this. She wants to make sure that there is accurate representation in the animation industry and that children are growing up with characters who look and sound like them. When asked why she wanted to do this, she reflected back on her experiences and what it was like to grow up without characters who looked like her. She feels that it is her duty to make sure that children do not feel like they do not belong because of their identity, and to let them know that their experiences are valid and seen. “My passion comes from my experiences. If it wasn’t for learning to love myself in the home that I grew up in, I wouldn’t have any inspiration. The love and sense of community that I have in my life is what inspires me.” Vallejo currently works as a Producer’s Assistant with Illumination Animation, and is incredibly excited for the opportunity to work in the field she greatly admires.
When asked what her journey at Whittier provided her with, Vallejo stated that she learned that, no matter how much someone plans for something, nothing is set in stone, and there are always other paths that will make one just as happy. College and adult life is full of change, and Vallejo has welcomed it with a positive attitude and open arms. She thanked her family, partner, and friends for encouraging and supporting her throughout this chapter of her life, and she expressed incredible excitement for the future.