share this

Share This Search

News . Feature Stories . Animation major follows passion 800 miles to Cleveland


February 20, 2020

Animation major follows passion 800 miles to Cleveland

Kailen Dean, who started college in Alabama, took a few minutes with us to explain why she hit the re-set button and transferred to CIA.

Kailen Dean working at Cintiq

Sometimes you have to walk the wrong path a few steps before you see the one you should be on after all. That experience landed transfer student Kailen Dean—finally—at CIA pursuing a career in animation. Kailen, who traveled a lot as the daughter of a military man, spent much of her childhood in Leakesville, Mississippi.

Where did you attend school before CIA?

I attended the University of West Alabama majoring in Marketing and Communications (graphic design track). I really enjoyed the University of West Alabama, but the major I was in was not a digital art program. It was geared toward marketing, and was a great program for that, but it couldn’t push me in the direction that my true passions were hungry for.

What drew you to Animation?

I’ve always wanted to do animation. Animation, to me, was the way to become the strongest version of myself because it requires me to become great at a lot of things.

What do you hope to do with your art education after college?

I’d love to continue learning frame-by-frame character animation and use that to work for TV shows. Along with that, I would also like to become a jack of all trades to better prepare myself for possible freelance work.

How has your CIA experience been so far?

I’ll admit that the first year at CIA was difficult, because there were very few classes for freshmen that had digital art involved, and I am not someone who enjoyed hands-on sculptural work.

Things turned for the better after I got into my major. The faculty completely fulfilled my desire in wanting to be pushed. I got pushed in all the directions I didn’t know I needed, and after a year and a half in the major, it’s been a humbling experience. They provide an environment that can immerse their students into the lifestyle of a professional digital artist.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your college journey?

When I chose UWA, I was thinking about what was best for friends, family and finances, which can all be valid to some people when choosing where to go, but I should’ve gone in with my best interests in mind to begin with.

Something I know now that I wish I knew earlier is that becoming an animator requires strengthening your creative arsenal first. It is not a skill you can approach without understanding how to draw, good acting, and many other creative skills.

I would tell younger me that the results in any art field will not be immediate but will come with accepting the process.

Interested in transferring to CIA? Learn more at

Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube

Social Feed


For more information about this or other CIA news, contact us here.