The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Stellar Artist To Study Architecture at Cal Poly
Gabriela Herrero '21

Standout artist Gabriela Herrero ’21 (Brazil) has decided to major in Architecture at California Polytechnic State University after also considering offers from UC Davis, University of Michigan, University of Oregon, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“My dream is to be an architect for vulnerable communities that need help the most,” she explained. “I also don't just want to use normal building materials such as cement, aggregates, metals, and bricks. I want to use sustainable ones. My goal is to construct without destroying the beautiful natural environment that surrounds us.”

Gabriela is a bridge builder who made a major impact on the TASIS community in her two years on campus. Her impressive language skills— she speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish, and a bit of Italian; knows Brazilian Sign Language; and is currently taking American Sign Language classes—huge heart, and strong leadership skills made her a revered role model as a dorm proctor and earned her the respect of both her teachers and peers. “There is never not a time that she’s not helping out, and as a result she was awarded the “Angel of the Slopes” at the end of Ski Week last year,” noted Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff as he conferred the coveted Headmaster’s Award at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony.

An outstanding artist who scored a 4 on the AP Drawing exam and earned the 2021 Excellence in Art Award, Gabriela was described by Visual Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes as “an accomplished young artist prepared to learn the craft of painting, whose work is distinguished by a curiosity for the natural world around her.” 

Shortly after her graduation in May 2021, Gabriela answered the following questions about her two years at TASIS The American School in Switzerland

Graduation ceremony

Receiving the Excellence in Art Award from Mr. Dukes

As you look back at your two years at TASIS, what are you most proud of?
The prizes and awards are not the main reason I am proud of my time at TASIS; rather, it is the challenges I overcame. Being in a boarding school is not always easy, as one might expect. You must be courageous, mature, responsible, and resilient. TASIS put me to the test and showed me that I possessed all of those characteristics. My biggest achievement was not giving up when times were rough and transforming challenges into life lessons.

Do you feel that your time at TASIS has prepared you well for college?
My time at TASIS helped me become more mature and more independent, essential skills to have in order to become a college student. It taught me how to be content in my own company and how to be myself regardless of what others think. It also allowed me to form long-lasting friendships and create wonderful memories. 

What experiences have you found most inspiring at TASIS?
Being a proctor was by far the most inspiring experience I had at TASIS. I was able to inspire and help others in a way I hadn't been able to before. Proctoring taught me that helping others makes you a better and happier person.

Two of Gabriela’s recent paintings

What courses or teachers will you remember most fondly? 
What a difficult question! During my two years at TASIS, I was a part of a variety of classes. The class environments that I felt most welcome in and most connected to my classmates were Italian with the amazing Ms. Roth, AP Drawing with the unique Mr. Dukes, and US History with the enthusiastic Mr. Clardy.

What do you think you will miss most about your time at TASIS? 
I will strongly miss my friends, this amazing city, the teachers, the dorm parents, and my life in the dorm. 

Having to contend with a pandemic for your final three semesters clearly isn't how you and your classmates wanted to end your time at TASIS. But is there anything positive you've been able to take away from all of this?
Covid-19 appeared out of nowhere and completely altered our lives. It taught me how to be happy in isolation and to appreciate every moment because we never know what might happen tomorrow. It also helped me be more present in my relationships and more connected with my family. Finally, the pandemic demonstrated how fortunate I am to have lived in Lugano, a lovely small town in Switzerland, and to be able to spend time with the people I care about while responsibly enjoying the small things and moments.

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