Almost five years ago Alyssa, had her wish granted by Make-A-Wish Maine. Today, she explains how her wish experience changed the course of her life and made a lasting impact.
Growing up, Alyssa always had a passion for drawing and dreamed of becoming an animator. However, getting to that dream has taken some work. A typical high school student, Alyssa was looking at colleges, spending time with friends and family, and planning her future.
She was referred to Make-A-Wish Maine in 2012 while she was in the hospital awaiting her heart transplant. “Before my transplant I was constantly exhausted and unable to do much physical exertion,” Alyssa explained. In 2013 she received her new heart, but it wasn’t a quick recovery. Still, every day Alyssa made great progress and as her heart got stronger, so did her spirit.
Having paused her dreams of being an animator and attending Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, when Alyssa was ready to make her wish choice, it was no surprise that she wished to be an animator for one of her favorite childhood shows, “Adventure Time.”
“I chose to visit Cartoon Network because when I was younger being an animator was always a dream of mine, but it wasn’t really something I was able to explore. Northern Maine doesn’t have much in the way of funding for arts programs, so I wasn’t really given the opportunity to hone my skills as an artist. While I was accepted into the software engineering program at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, I used my wish kind of like a last chance to see what it would be like to be an animator.”
During her wish trip in Southern California, Alyssa, her family, and her best friend received a full tour of the Cartoon Network. They watched unreleased cartoons ahead of the network showing, met many of the voices of her favorite characters while observing the recording process, and even met the lead producer who walked them through each step of the animating process.
“My dad appreciated seeing how excited I got meeting people I was only able to read about and going somewhere I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” Alyssa said. The entire Cartoon Network staff wanted to make Alyssa’s visit as amazing and memorable as possible.
“It was really eye-opening for me. I view the experience much more as an adult would, than a child. I loved the work environment and how the employees interacted with me and each other, and I realized that it was something I really wanted to be a part of. It helped me realize that I absolutely did not want to be a software engineer and despite the fact that I was due to start the engineering program in the fall, I should drop out and apply to an animation program.”
Now at age 22, Alyssa is currently attending Savannah College of Art and Design for Animation with a minor in Character Technical Direction. “This wish honestly changed the course of my entire future.”