By Joseph Iemma
Don’t let her petite stature fool you. Stephanie Athanasopolous, a senior digital art and design major, boasts a persona that is larger than life, and she has the résumé to prove it. Before she turned 21 last October, Athanasopolous had already interned for a blog site known as The Dishh. It was where a young Athanasopolous designed material for one of Kim Kardashian’s closest friends, Jonathan Cheban, the founder and CEO of the website since 2014. With her sights aimed high, Athanasopolous now works as a member of the graphic design team at JCDecaux [DEC], an advertisement company whose stock is publicly traded on the European Stock Exchange.
As a full time employee with JCDecaux, Athanasopolous is poised to graduate in May. Despite her packed schedule, the Pioneer interviewed Athanasopolous over the winter break.
Q) “How’d you get into Graphic Design?”
A) “Well, as a young girl in a Greek Orthodox elementary school, the emphasis is always on looks and appearance whether that be at the church, proms, schools functions, you name it. So long story short, Facebook infiltrated my group of friends in the 7th grade, and who took the pictures? Me. So before uploading all of the group pictures, I would edit them, and use Photoshop. So with that said, I became the ‘editor and chief,’ and just like that, playing with Photoshop became a hobby of mine.”
Q) “Ah, well thank you Facebook! Looking at your college transcript, it says you came in undecided, want to explain that to us?”
A) “Well, I’m the daughter of two Greek immigrants who own a diner in Ozone Park, Queens. I watched them work hard, and I wanted to make them proud. So, I figured ‘Why not take up law?’ Well, I almost did just that. That was until I took a digital design class here at Post, and the rest was history. I was hooked; my professor at the time told me I had a great skill set for design. The next semester I was a declared Digital Arts & Design major.”
Q) “Were there any doubts or reservations? Push-back from your parents?”
A) “Eh, I guess there was some. I mean, when you make a life decision at the age of 18, it’s tough to trust your judgment on things, but I did it. As for my parents…I wondered how they’d take it. However, my father basically said to me; ‘The biggest decision I ever made was leaving Greece, the key to making a decision is sticking with it, but only if it’s your passion. Is this your passion, Stephanie?’ I responded ‘yes,’ and he said, ‘Well then I’m proud of you, and you have my utmost support, just be home by midnight please.’ I was going out that night, that’s why he said that to me.”
Q) “What’s it like practically having a career with a publically traded company? Do you do anything else on the side to refine your skills, keep you busy?”
A) “It doesn’t faze me; I wouldn’t say it’s easy because it’s not. Meeting deadlines for a company is no easy feat, but I get my work done. In terms of what I do on the side…I am also a freelance graphic designer, and if you want you can see some of my work here on my website: http://www.stephathana.com/ .”
Q) “Where are you five years from now?”
A) “Love these questions, because I have no answer for them. Of course I have goals, and I’m constantly creating systems in my head to reach those goals. Ideally I’d like to run my own graphic design company, but let’s graduate first, and then we can really talk future.”
Q) “Last Question: Any advice you want to give to the reader who may be struggling to take that next step in their career and/or major?”
A) “If we had a camera for this interview, I would look straight into it and say, ‘What are you waiting for?’ and that, ‘You can do it.’ Seriously, so the world is so full with talent and opportunity. Go out there and do it, get it done. Believe in yourself, set the bar high, and just do what you have to do. The worst thing you can do is sit on the sideline and tell yourself every reason why you can’t do it. Just do it, my friend, do it, see what you can do, and the rest will be history. I promise.”