College is known to come with challenges that often force character development within a student. Whether it is personal, professional, or academic strife, the conflict is bound to leave one a bit more resilient than they were before.
Graduating senior Arielle Pritchett, a fine arts major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts considers those moments of difficulty to be bittersweet as the stress that she has encountered has grown her into the woman that she is today.
“I took the time to pay attention to how I felt,” Pritchett said. “When life throws something at you, you take it, face it, and keep pushing because everything does not last for a lifetime. It is only a season.”
Pritchett hails from Atlanta, Georgia, where she is the middle child of Andrea and Robert Pritchett II. She remembers her childhood to be very lively, considering that her family was fairly successful and exposed her to various arts and hobbies at a young age.
She attended Martin Luther King High School where she occupied herself with the cheerleading and dance teams, to which she served as captain for her junior year. Though these involvements instilled time management and leadership skills, Pritchett believes that her high school experience only successfully prepared her for the social challenges of college.
“Coming from a primarily Black high school, I was comfortable making the transition because I was used to being around my own people,” she said.
Pritchett graduated from Martin Luther King High School in 2017 with her eyes set on Alabama State University. Considering that her older brother, Richard Pritchett III, was a Hornet at that time, she was well aware of the opportunities held at the Hornet’s Nest.
Her decision to attend ASU was driven by her love for dance, as she held the goal to join the well-recognized team of the sensational Stingettes. Though this plan did not come to fruition, Pritchett assures that her college experience has been fulfilling regardless.
“God had other plans for me, and that is okay,” she said.
Initially enrolled as a business management major, she found herself trapped in a study that left her feeling uninterested and empty.
Pritchett’s true passions lay in both the visual and performing arts, as she grew up in an environment heavily influenced by such.
Considering that many of her relatives are accredited artists themselves, her curiosity was sparked at an early age. Her passion for the trade began with a beginner pottery painting class and has since grown into her formal course of study.
“I have always been around [art] ever since I was eight,” she said. “After seeing so many people do it I would ask, ‘Okay, what is this? Or, this is so interesting. How did you know how to draw this? What did you do to learn this?”
As a Hornet, Pritchett has been most involved within the university’s chapter of House Arrest 2 Championship Dance Team, as a secretary of the student art organization, and most recently within the National Society of Leadership and Success.
This involvement has worked to shape her Hornet experience over the years, she cannot credit a specific one for her favorite and most memorable moments. Instead, she considers her favorite times as a student to be taking part in the social life on campus during its pre-pandemic glory.
Pritchett shares that this time period was filled with lighthearted fun and fellowship among peers through games such as manhunt and water balloon fights. Unfortunately, the Hornet’s Nest has taken and will continue to take, a considerable amount of time before returning to this level of energy.
“I can not even explain it,” she said. “It was just a lot of fun stuff we used to do. The social aspect is the most memorable of all.”
Her widespread appreciation is also exhibited through her most loved professors. As she holds the advice granted by a professor who had quickly become a confidant and advisor. Though Pritchett never took part in any classes that were taught by him, the tough love provided and willingness to help has never waivered.
Pritchett joined COVPA very shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. As society was eventually forced into solitude and remote learning, she grew very frustrated with the lack of hands-on work available to art students. Considering that she holds sculpture and ceramics as minor studies, it was extremely difficult to learn that type of curriculum from the computer screen rather than in the hands-on lab.
“We had an entire year of not being able to physically have your professors help,” she said. “When working on an assignment, having to communicate over email was hard to do, so when were able to come back, it made life so much easier.”
As she reflects on her time, Pritchett has most notably learned the importance of putting oneself out there and networking. The need for a strong reference circle became apparent during her attempt to join the Sensational Stingette team during her freshman year. Though she did not initially make the team, she observed that many of the dancers who were successful had previously established connections and relationships. As she was a novice on the campus at this time, this setback was needed to encourage the personal growth and development that would come.
“I was straight out of high school and did not really know anybody,” Pritchett said. “I was new down here and by myself. I knew that eventually, it would be time for me to open my mouth and start networking.”
She also learned the importance of being adaptable as life throws curve balls. As she turned her frustrations of that situation for the better, she shifted her focus to the visual arts rather than performing.
“You have to stay persistent and steer the course because my journey has been, excuse my language, a hell of a ride,” she said. “But it was definitely worth it because I was able to start to learn who I am as a woman.”
A great amount of maturation has come along with these realizations. Pritchett admits that she has grown increasingly independent and self-aware as she has faced the challenges of her college experience. These conflicts were merely opportunities to practice the stress management exercises that she has grown to find comfort in.
“A lot of the things that I have been through in college, I have had to do myself,” she said. “But going through that by myself made me understand who I was instead of what I am based off of other people.”
To do this, she has become more intuitive when reading her peers’ energy and behavior. If she does not feel comfortable with a person or situation, she respects her own peace by removing herself. Her faith in God has led her through this process, as she trusts that what is meant to be for her will be without force. She knows that He is with her in every moment.
To improve her Hornet experience, Pritchett wishes for stronger communication between the university’s administration, faculty, and students. She believes that this transparent exchange would resolve many of the common issues that plague students daily. She especially calls for explanations for the molding issues of the residence halls and the allocation of refunds.
“I understand that they have a certain amount of money to stay open, but a lot of the things that we get charged for are miscellaneous things that we should not be getting charged for,” she said.
As she calls for dialogue, she praises the university’s efforts to control and maintain the pandemic on campus. Considering that Montgomery, Alabama recorded proportionately high rates, it is truly impressive that it did not deter ASU operations. Pritchett appreciates the sternness of the matter as she understands the drastic effects of COVID-19 on a community.
“A lot of time we think it will be alright,” she said. “It is not going to stay this way for long, it is going to go back to normal, but that is not the case and that is not a great thing.”
She also values the inter-department relationships created throughout the Hornet’s Nest. Pritchett shares that the faculty of COVPA are genuine hearted individuals who who wishes the best for their students. Considering she joined COVPA with a changed major, she was often shy and sunk to the back of the crowd but these professors have worked to pull her out of the shadows.
“They care about your wellbeing,” she said. “They want us to be successful in life. They have helped me in ways that I did not think I could be helped.”
After graduation Pritchett will began an entrepreneurial career in the beauty and self care industries. She is currently completing a beauty essential course so that she may provide the best services to her clients. She also plans to create and sell aromatherapueitc candles, massage candles and oil, lotions, and more spa items. As she is motivated by her personal spouts with eczema, Pritchett advocates for the use of organic and natural products for hair and skin.
“I have been trying things out as far as natural wise and organic because there is a lot of stuff in chemicals and I break out really rally really easily,” she said. “I found that products that are organic and from the earth are better than chemicals when for the skin. I feel a lot better. I move a lot better.”
In regard to her artistic future, Pritchett plans to continue creating commissioned work for clients. With the influence of contemporary art, her work primarily focuses on women empowerment and femininity. As the opportunity to showcase her art grows, she will along with it.
To incoming Hornets, Pritchett advises that undecided students follow their true passions rather than money. She reiterates the idea that a professional who is personally fulfilled can never be left destitute.
“You want to be able to enjoy what you are doing for a living because if you enjoy the money will come regardless,” she said.
She also stresses to younger individuals that “closed mouths do not get fed, so go out and network.” As simple conversations can lead to promising opportunities, Pritchett knows that personal connections, or the lack thereof, can make or break a career.