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Navy Veteran and Merchandise Product Development Student Works as a Design Specialist at LeadersUp

Navy Veteran and Merchandise Product Development Student Works as a Design Specialist at LeadersUp

Born in Riverside, California and raised around the Inland Empire and parts of Long Beach, Merchandise Product Development Student Kendal Bruce served in the U.S. Navy for five years prior to coming to FIDM. Currently residing in Downtown LA, the proud veteran is a Design Specialist at the non-profit organization LeadersUp.

Tell us a bit about your Naval service. The Navy was the best thing that happened to me. I was at a turning point in my life and the Navy was the one thing that saved me from my living situation as well as my mindset. I served five years and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

What is it like being a veteran at FIDM? Are you part of the FIDM Student Veterans of America Chapter? It's cool being a military student and yes I'm part of the SVA. My favorite part about being a SVA student is the companionship and understanding we all share for each other. It feels like a small family in a sense. We have our own room to chill in; I feel like FIDM VIP.

What are your responsibilities at LeadersUp? LeadersUp is an organization that aims to make sure the urban youth demographic is job interview ready and employed. We travel as far as Chicago to host job fairs where we do hair and makeup for men and women, perform mock interviews, and even provide clothing for our young adults for them to interview in.

We have on the spot hiring at the summit and its amazing; I've never seen anything like it. I'm the Design Specialist there so the Creative Director, Zhen, and I work together on anything and everything creative. Sometimes my sole focus is creating engaging and eye catching Instgram ads, while his sole focus will be creating really cool website layouts.

What do you most enjoy about working there and why? The thing I enjoy the most is my team. Erica and Emmanuel are the brains, while Martha is like a mother and a great overseer, and Zhen is like my big brother. We all have each other's back and it feels good to work in an environment like that. I also get to do what I love. Who wouldn't want to be paid to make videos and cool advertisements? We get to work from home a lot of the time so that's definitely a plus as well.

How did you get into photography, design, and video? I've always had an eye for the unseen since I was young. I'd see dinosaurs in the clouds, cars in the trees, faces in my bowl of cereal, you name it. Eventually, I started exploring creative realms like coloring, then drawing, then photography, to music, videography, and even clothing. You name the art, I've touched it.

I don't know where it came form to be honest it just all kind of happened. I can't do it all at once so I teach my gifts to close friends and family. I have three students now who I love and teach them all my music tricks. Look out for DJ DarJar, Calvin Dunn (Cally Wallly), and my brother TMills. 

What made you choose FIDM? I've been wanting to come to FIDM since high school and this was the only school I actually wanted to go to. I wasn't interested in college at the time, but FIDM was a different story. I remember taking a tour and being blown away at the by the campus, the curriculum, and the history the school had within the industry.

When I left high school, I moved to Las Vegas for a few months, then I came back to California to enlist in the Navy. When I got out, I ended up at the Art Institute but that campus got shut down. I ended up right back where I started, right at FIDM. I think it was meant to be.

What advice would you give a fellow veteran who is considering attending FIDM? I'd tell them to follow their heart. Follow whatever you're passionate about and you'll end up right where you need to be plain and simple.

Categories:  Merchandise Product Development Military Veteran Student