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Meet the animation student dedicated to acting in service

Tam Ta
Tam Ta is a third-year student and graphic designer for DePaul's Division of Mission and Ministry. (Image courtesy of Tam Ta)
​​​The first priority in “Grounded in Mission: The Plan for DePaul 2024," is to deepen our commitment to DePaul's Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission. Tam Ta, a third-year student pursuing a BFA in animation with a concentration in storyboarding and character design, embraces this mission each day by acting in service of others.

​Ta addresses the Vincentian question, “What must be done?" in her roles as the graphic designer for the Division of Mission and Ministry, a senior leader for Vincentian Service Day and a volunteer for the DePaul Community Service Association. After she graduates, she hopes to give people of color a platform through her animation career.

​Though now actively involved at DePaul, it was not long ago she was only a curious student looking for ways to participate on campus.

“I did some service work outside of college here and there, but I didn't start to really get into it until my sophomore year at DePaul," she says.

Ta found her place in the DePaul community when she began volunteering for St. Angela's Mentoring Inspiring and Leading Education, or SMILE, as a part of DCSA. Before the pandemic, Ta worked directly with young students in after school programs and assisted teachers with various tasks.

“It was amazing to bring joy to kids who do not always have the opportunities to enjoy after school programs due to understaffing," Ta says. “I remember the first time I went; the entire bus ride home I couldn't stop smiling."  

After her experience with SMILE, Ta knew she had​ found something special.

“This is an incredibly welcoming and diverse group of people who are passionate about community building," she explains. “They genuinely care about others."

Looking to expand her network of service at DePaul, Ta applied for a job with the Vincentian Service Day team in 2020 and was hired into a senior leader position.

Acts of Loving Kindness

“That role changed a lot of things for me," she says. “It all started when I designed a VSD 2020 poster. Now I am involved in a lot of projects across DMM."

Following VSD 2020, DMM hired Ta as a graphic designer. The division used her graphics when VSD 2020 shifted to a virtual event due to the pandemic.

“Rarely do I come across students with such strong design intuition this early in their careers," says Liliane Calfee, the marketing communications specialist for DMM and an adjunct faculty member in the College of Computing and Digital Media.

Earlier this year, Ta put her talents to work when she designed the graphics for DMM's Acts of Loving Kindness campaign. Her artwork can be seen in Newsline and across DMM's social media channels.

Ta notes her dedication to service will not end at DePaul. When she graduates, she hopes to amplify the voices of people of color in animation through storytelling.

“It is important to me to increase the representation of people of color in my field by ensuring their stories are heard and told correctly," she says. “It is crucial for kids to see people who look like them, so they have someone to look up to."

In the future, Ta says she would like to tell her parents' immigration story.

“My parents' story is something very special to me, my mom's experience especially," she says. “Through poverty and arriving in America, she struggled as a working-class woman with four children."

While Ta has always been interested in giving back to others, DePaul's Vincentian community and mission gave her the resources to devote herself to service work. To learn more about service opportunities at the university or to register for the upcoming 2021 Vincentian Service Day, set for May 1, visit the Division of Mission and Ministry website.

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Learn about and register for Vincentian Service Day 2021