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What does it take to go from being a kid who loves art to being a leading innovator in a Fortune 100 Company with 7,000 employees on five continents? If you ask Andres De Paz (US’07, C’11), he will humbly tell you his story.

As a sophomore in high school, De Paz became the fourth of four siblings to travel from Guatemala City to study at Principia. Before long, De Paz’s love of art helped him feel at home in the Upper School art room. He had a strong interest in industrial design and, at that point, thought he might like to design cars. Nurturing that interest, Jack Schlueter (US’65, C’69), De Paz’s Upper School art teacher, taught him how to use an airbrush to bring more polish and professionalism to his designs. De Paz worked hard and, in his senior year, was accepted to Savannah College of Art and Design based on the strength of his Upper School portfolio. Before committing, however, De Paz realized he had many different interests, so he opted instead to go to Principia College for a broad-based education.

The horizons of De Paz’s interests continued to expand at the College. He studied graphic design with Professor Dan Kistler (C’79) and was introduced to the creative process of building a visual identity or “brand” for a business. He designed logos and other specialized graphic elements, learning how to bring them all together in compelling pro- motional products and materials. As he recalls, “It was a great opportunity to learn how to communicate through design. I fell in love with it.”

In addition to art and design, De Paz had a strong interest in film. An internship in 2009 with TMC Youth at the Mother Church in Boston gave him the opportunity to put that interest into action, making short videos to illustrate spiritual ideas. In the end, the transferable knowledge and skills gained through his graphic design course work and internship became the foundation of his professional career.

While in Miami during the spring break before graduation, De Paz had an informational interview with Discovery Communications. He made some excellent contacts, but there wasn’t an immediate job offer, which was just as well since he had his eye on Los Angeles and a career in film. Once in LA, however, gaining a foothold in the film industry posed all the challenges one might expect, including needing to earn a living while pursuing his passion. So De Paz turned to another practice he’d honed at Principia. “I really prayed,” he says. “When I was finally able to let go of all the worry, an e-mail arrived from Discovery asking me to come back for another interview.” That interview led to a job that allowed De Paz to extend his interest in film into television.

Today, De Paz is head creative producer of on-air promotions for Discovery en Español, a division of Discovery Communications specifically for Hispanics in the U.S. When De Paz was hired in 2011 as an associate producer, Discovery en Español was being “refreshed,” a term that makes De Paz chuckle. “It was a very small department,” he explains. “There were only two people: my boss and I. It required long hours to produce over 100 on-air elements each month.” His hard work was recognized with an internal Discovery Communications “Stellar Award” for “exceeding beyond responsibilities.” That was the first of several awards for De Paz, who continues to be recognized for the high caliber of his creativity and accountability.

Most recently, De Paz was a finalist for the John Hendricks Innovation Award. Hendricks is the founder of Discovery, and the award that bears his name is among the highest honors at Discovery Communications. Five finalists are chosen from 300 entries. De Paz’s submission of a cinema-quality camera fastened on top of a stable but lightweight skydiving helmet in order to achieve high-quality, point-of-view footage was one of the five.

“Because of Principia,” De Paz says, “I was able to open my mind to broader ideas, cultures, and ways of looking at life. Traveling always builds awareness, understanding, and compassion.” He adds, “Another great thing that Principia gave me was financial aid. I see a lot of my friends struggling with college debts. It makes my life so much easier and more productive to be able to focus on my career rather than having to pay off school loans. My family isn’t here in the U.S. to offer that kind of [financial] support, so it’s really wonderful that Principia provided it.” 

This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of Principia Purpose.

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