Student nurses his passion for art

By Dylan You - Staff Reporter

Even as a busy nursing student, Duc Tram would stay up late to draw.

He'd be glued to his medical books just like his peers; nursing was to be his career. But each night the urge to draw would return, propelling him past drowsiness.

Tram began to realize that his interest for nursing would never match that of his fellow nursing students. The siren call of his sketch pad and pens kept getting stronger, until it dawned on him: he was headed down a wrong path.

He was able to follow his dream, and now wants to help others follow theirs.

"I was probably still a little kid in fourth grade when I wanted to be an artist," Tram said. "I've always wanted to become an artist because when I was younger I watched a lot of anime and wanted to draw just like them."

Despite developing an interest in art at such a young age, Tram didn't pursue his life's calling until he was in college.

"I never really gave myself the chance to develop as an artist when I was younger because I was surrounded by other people who could draw 10 times better than I would," he said.

Tram never wanted to go to college. He came to Highline because his parents told him that attending college would be good for his future. In fact, his initial plan didn't even have anything to do with nursing or art. Instead, he aimed for a degree in math.

"My original plan was to come here and transfer to UW to get a math degree," Tram said.

"But in my statistics class I met my friend Jason who introduced me to the world of nursing and I went pretty deep down the rabbit hole," he said.

Although Tram was able to handle the hectic lifestyle of being a nursing student, he constantly found himself questioning his decision.

"There [were] a lot of different combinations of things that led to my decision to switch majors. But if I had to pick two, I would say Spring Quarter and my time talking to other nurses," Tram said.

Curious as to how the nurses were so good at what they did, Tram asked them for their keys to success. The answers were always the same: they love nursing.

"My mind didn't process it at the time. But eventually I realized that there are people who loved nursing as much as I love art," Tram said. "So I could never compete with them because I couldn't love art as much as they love nursing."

But he loved art enough that after studying until midnight, he would bring out the pad and pencils.

Spring quarter came along with a need for an art credit. Tram came up with one last plan to battle his inner artist. He signed up for a ceramics class instead of a drawing class.

"I picked ceramics because it was an art class that was outside of my discipline," Tram said.

But it didn't work. He discovered several ways of using clay to sculpt ideas or create stuff.

"I just loved it even though it was outside of my comfort zone," he said.

He decided that there was no point in trying to deny himself the freedom to live as an artist. In other words, it was time to switch majors.

"What helped me summon the courage to switch majors was to talk to as many people as I could about it," Tram said. "He also did a lot of research.

"I did a lot of research by reading artist biographies, art books, business books and one book called How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels," Tram said.

Tram initially thought switching majors would be a pretty hefty task, but it turned out that the classes he was taking for nursing also applied credits towards a regular transfer AA.

"I felt great once I switched away from nursing," Tram said. "It felt like a weight has been lifted from me."

Now, with less than two quarters away from graduating, Tram has started the Drawing Club in the hope his enthusiasm for drawing can empower both novices and artists in their perpetual journeys to become better artists.

"For now, I'm here at Highline to finish my AA because I have one quarter left and I want to have it as a backup plan," Tram said.

"I'm mostly self-taught, but I have learned a couple of things from the lovely instructors at Gage Academy of Art and here at Highline."

He said he's grateful for those who helped him switch paths.

"I wanted to give back to the community by having a Drawing Club because in my life I've always had others supporting me whether it was in nursing or drawing so I wanted to answers questions for those that want to follow a similar path," Tram said.

That's where the Drawing Club comes in.

Tram said that although the Drawing Club follows a schedule, he won't force others to conform to his schedule. If other members want to learn how to draw trees instead of human body parts, Tram will by all means teach them how to draw trees.

"I think another obstacle is that people aren't interested in drawing because they think they're bad at drawing," Tram said.

He said those students, too, are welcome at Drawing Club and those who are interested in drawing but can't afford the $500 it takes to sign up for a drawing class may opt to attend Drawing Club for free instead.

Unlike many other clubs at the moment, the Drawing Club has a time and place to meet every week. They meet every Wednesday at Building 21, room 203 and every Friday at Building 8, room 302 from 1-3 p.m.

Tram said his confidence will help Drawing Club propel past it's current issues.

And he isn't leaving things to chance. He's teamed up with Advertising Club to post flyer's all around campus and also plans on certifying the club in order to arrange a field trip to an artist's studio or museum in Seattle.

"Anyone who's interested in art as a profession, or if you're just curious about how to get started with drawing, this club is for you," Tram said. "Just come in and have fun. Even if you're curious. You don't have to stay all two hours. You can just come and go as you please."

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