Caitlin Espiritu is a first-year graphic design major and Leadership Scholar with an interest in combining arts with business and innovation. She grew up on Long Island, where her frequent trips to New York City and her Filipino background inspired a passion to experience different cities and lifestyles. During her senior year in high school, Caitlin was the first vice president of the Student Government Association, as well as the vice president of marketing for the Distributive Education Clubs of America. She is a dancer and a former cheerleader and track and field runner. At the Newhouse School, she has found opportunities to explore her passions through clubs, classes and study abroad programs.
Why did you choose to come to Newhouse?
I knew that it was very highly ranked and of high prestige. My mom is an alumna, so she told me very good things about the school. I also know that there are many connections to Los Angeles, which is somewhere I would like to work when I am older. The wide variety of majors [at] Newhouse allow me to broaden and expand my initial interests.
What surprised you the most when you got here?
What surprised me the most when I got here was COM 117 [the multimedia storytelling course]. Coming into Newhouse, I did not think I was interested in the production and film portion of media, but after taking this class I am looking into changing my major from graphic design to television, radio and film. I did not think that I would be directing films, screenwriting, going places for a non-fiction documentary, working on logos for a public service announcement and working with real camera equipment, all of which I found very cool.
What extracurricular activities have you gotten involved in as a first-year student?
I auditioned for the Creations Dance Company and made the team at the end of September. I have been dancing since I was two years old, and have taken dance classes at Broadway Dance Center and Brickhouse NYC. It is my biggest passion, and I love the diversity of styles and performances we do. I am also a makeup artist and hair stylist for the Fashion and Design Society, and I find it very rewarding to work with such a diverse group of models and see my work come to life. I am also a member of the Filipino Student Association, which has allowed me to immerse myself into my Filipino culture, as I am half Filipino. As a member of this association, I get to build relationships with other members and bond over our Filipino roots and lifestyles. These clubs have enriched my experience in terms of meeting a diverse group of people with the same interests as me and have taught me things that I can use in my future and my career.
What is the most rewarding part of being a Leadership Scholar?
Having unique opportunities to connect with students, staff and others. Being a part of a smaller group of fellow Leadership Scholars helps us to relate to each other and connect with each other. We also get more exclusive chances to personally connect with people, such as CNN political analyst Natasha Alford [who visited campus in Fall 2021].
What was the most helpful piece of advice you received as a first-year student?
The most helpful piece of advice I received was from my COM 117 professor—my favorite professor so far—associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism [Corey]Takahashi. I was talking to him about switching my major, and he told me to think about what type of portfolio I want to create, which I feel is something that is very important to think about and something that I haven’t thought much about yet. This helped me put into perspective what I like to create—such as writing, on-camera work, video work, web design—instead of worrying about the title of the major.
Jessica Zabbia is a first-year magazine, news and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School.