How I Got to CCA: Robert Morrison (Animation 2015)

Robert MorrisonRobert Morrison

I’m a local, born and raised in Oakland. Pretty much everyone I grew up with was interested in one of two things: sports or being a rapper. But my interests went in a different direction: art.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Disney films. Seeing The Lion King for the first time, I was infatuated with how realistic and relatable the characters were. I began mimicking my favorite ones on paper, from Simba to SpongeBob, and creating new ones of my own.

Drawing consumed me. I spent all of my time filling pages with character designs and ideas.

Luckily, my parents realized just how passionate I was and put me in all kinds of art and animation programs. Every summer, I had something to do.

Athena Project Called My Name

Of all the youth programs they put me in, the one that resonated the most was the Athena Project, which was held on the CCA campus. The year was 2005. I was one of several students from Oakland schools, and CCA students were our mentors.

For several summers after that, I took classes at CCA; I distinctly remember Animation 101, Drawing, and Printmaking. I learned what actually goes into making an animated piece (a lot of work), and to make pieces of my own.

I had a harder time in Drawing. The teacher was totally focused on drawing from life. Boring! I wanted to draw superheroes and dinosaurs, not trees and naked women.

Fortunately, as I progressed, I began to connect the dots and realize how important drawing from life is to animation. I saw my art get better and better. I also formed a bond with Virginia Jardim, coordinator of the Athena Project.

Oakland Campus: Home Away from Home

While I was working on becoming a better artist, I was also getting acquainted with CCA’s Oakland campus. I felt at home there, surrounded by beautiful nature and loving people.

I applied to a few colleges. Several weeks went by, and then a letter arrived from CCA. It was an acceptance letter, and upon reading it, I immediately thought of Virginia, the Athena Project, the warm CCA vibe, and the excitement of being around great people who loved art as much as I did.

Also, it wasn’t just an acceptance letter. It was an offer for a full-ride scholarship! Words cannot describe my joy and excitement.

Scholarship Paved the Way

To get an education and have my tuition paid has truly been a blessing. I’m now a senior, and my time here has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’ve been honored to take part in the Athena Project again . . . this time as a mentor. It has been amazing and invigorating to share my knowledge and see growth in the students.

When I first arrived at CCA, all I wanted to do was work for Disney or Pixar, but that mindset has changed drastically. There is so much more in the world of animation; from movies to television and video games, the field is vast.

And I plan on venturing through it all.

Editor's note: How I Got Here is a feature of Glance, the college magazine, in which students share in their own words what it took to get to CCA. The following originally appeared in the fall 2014 issue.