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Charlotte Grad Designs App To Empower Latina Moms

In a recurring December ritual for the Varela family, Valentina Varela is set to follow in her brother’s academic footsteps as a UNC Charlotte graduate. This familial academic tradition began last year when her brother, Juan, earned degrees in Finance and Spanish. This December, the spotlight turns to Valentina.

Valentina’s journey spans continents, with her family’s relocation from Colombia to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when she was just 15. While her artistic talent had always been evident, it was at R.J. Reynolds High School where a transformative moment occurred. Winning an art contest, Valentina caught the attention of a teacher who encouraged her to turn her passion into a career. After a stint at Forsyth Tech Community College, she made the transition to UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2020. Her academic pursuits culminate in a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, complemented by a Minor in Art History and a Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing Science.

Speaking of her graphic design experience, Valentina notes the program’s unique ability to foster multidisciplinary creativity. She emphasizes the acquisition of skills in photography and 3D modeling and underscores the cohesive nature of her cohort, functioning as a collaborative team.

The pinnacle of the Graphic Design program is the senior thesis and exhibition, guided by Associate Professor Bobby Campbell. Students, including Valentina and her 12 peers this semester, undertake the challenge of addressing a community organization or social issue close to their hearts. The collective output is showcased in a public exhibition at the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture’s Lambla Gallery.

Valentina’s senior thesis, titled “Más Buena,” is a project designed to empower Latina moms. She sheds light on the challenges faced by Latina mothers who often find themselves confined to the singular role of “mom,” struggling to assert their identity as women. Valentina’s project involves interviews and photographs of eight Latina mothers, ultimately manifesting as an app named “Más Buena.” The app aims to connect users with other Latina mothers in their area and valuable resources like wellness and fitness programs.

Embarking on an internship at UCS Spirit in Lincolnton, North Carolina, in January 2023, Valentina has parlayed this opportunity into a full-time position offered by the athletic equipment manufacturer upon her graduation. Additionally, she has carved a niche as a wholesale Amazon seller of supplements and wellness products.

Peering into the future, Valentina envisions herself not merely as a designer but as the driving force behind a unique line of supplements and wellness products tailored for women. Aligning with her senior thesis, she plans to incorporate her design expertise into crafting a brand, managing social media, and offering products such as visualization boards and notepads. This venture marks her trajectory toward establishing a personal brand in the wellness industry, encapsulating the lessons learned throughout her academic journey.

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