Profiles of Parkland: Michelle Wright

Scott Wells

Staff Writer

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Photo of Michelle Wright by Scott Wells

Photography major Michelle Wright found herself at an interesting crossroad in life a few years back. One day, the mother of three realized that her children weren’t too far away from completing their high school years, and for her that posed somewhat of a problem.

“I could not have my kids graduate before I did,” she said.

Wright grew up in a small town near Peoria before moving with her family to Normal just prior to her freshman year in high school. By the time she was a junior, Wright dropped out for personal reasons. While it isn’t a decision she regrets, throughout her adult years she often felt as though she was missing something, so at 35 Wright decided it was time to get her GED.

“Getting my GED at the age of 35 was out of exhaustion,” Wright said. “I was tired of lying to employers, tired of feeling like I was not good enough to even graduate from high school.”

Soon after earning her GED, Wright realized that she hadn’t just completed something, but rather she had just started something new. Before long, she had enrolled at Parkland and began her pursuit of a degree in fine arts.

“My major at Parkland is photography,” she said. “I think it chose me. Everywhere I look, I see a picture.”

Wright’s studies have become a new passion for her. When she isn’t busy being a wife and mother, or putting in the hours at her job, Wright finds her peace in her art.

“I really enjoy still-life photography,” she said. “My passion is in the darkroom though. The art does not stop at the click of a button; it takes a lot of skill, practice and trial and error to get a good print in the darkroom.”

Wright has found that her patience towards her work has paid off. Last semester, Wright received a Merit Award for work that had been accepted into the juried student art show at Giertz Gallery, and she had several pieces selected for inclusion in Parkland’s Images magazine.

“It felt amazing,” she said.

Wright has some advice for others who may be starting their college studies later in life.

“Always take time for yourself,” she said. “Even if it is going for a 10-minute country drive, a walk in the park, or hiding out in the bathroom. Learn to accept the chaos. Remind yourself that it will be over in [a few] semesters.”

As far as her outlook on life, Wright offers some insight: “Work hard. Work smart. Love and be loved. Be kind to one another, and be kind to this earth. It is our home.”