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Students & Alumni

From Army to Animation

August 22, 2018

When it comes to hard work, Brenda Raza certainly knows how to push through. From working in a cave in South Korea to photo editing catalogs of major retailers, she has done it all. Now Brenda is ready to get back to her true passion, animation. This 1997 UCF graphic design graduate talks about being in the military, being a mom and starting her master’s degree at FIEA.
Female student standing outside of FIEA building
Brenda Raza a Cohort 15 artist

“Working as a team and counting on each other to get a specific job done was crucial for me.”
— Brenda Raza

What was it like being in the Army?

BR: I did my basic training in Fort Jackson, SC and so it was pretty much a lot of the drill sergeants shouting in your face and 4 a.m. wake-up calls and constant PT [physical training], rappelling from towers, M16 training, grenade training and all of that. It was so exciting to me.

What is 71 Lima?

BR: They call the jobs the MOS [Military Occupational Specialties] that you select, so I selected something safer—71 Lima. So that would be admin and personnel. And then I went on to also do some Fox 5 training, which was postal. So a lot of data entry, and memorandums and payments, things like that. Invoicing. I did go to Korea and did a lot of basically working out of a cave, computers everywhere, data entry going on, 15-hour shifts–in that kind of environment. I lived in tents. Choosing a Lima position and something safer allowed me the flexibility I needed to continue college at the time.

What was it like working for Bloomingdale’s?

BR: I worked with Bloomingdale’s for several years as an image editor for their catalogues. I did a lot of photo retouching and consulting with photographers to see which photograph might be the one to use. Just production work and putting everything as a whole together and sending it off.

How do you think your background in the military and the work force has prepared you for FIEA?

BR: I would say those high-stress environments and having to perform despite obstacles has been definitely helpful and an eye-opener for me. And also just working as a team and counting on each other to get a specific job done was crucial for me.

What are you most looking forward to in coming back to UCF?

BR: Checking out and getting into the whole different spectrum of animation is what I’m looking forward to. Seeing how much design has evolved over the years in so many different spectrums and just really kind of seeing what goes on behind the scenes for what comes together to make a game or a simulation.

Female student standing outside of FIEA building
Brenda Raza
As a mother, how do you handle work-life balance?

BR: I have two little ones, seven and four, and my husband, my support team, will be great. So we will be rotating. Now that my son is going to school as a kindergartener, all of us will be going to school and then kind of rotating for pickup and drop-off times.

What is your favorite smell?

BR: It’s funny I was thinking about this. The baby scent, you know what I mean? But in addition, chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven.

At FIEA, you get to decorate your desk. What is going to be the first item you place on your desk?

BR: Oh yeah my family. My kids. My two little ones for sure.

What are you most worried about when starting the program?

BR: Probably the coding. Also, I am a part of a volunteer organization called Soldiers to Scholars at UCF, where I participate in the Walking School Bus after school program. I am worried about balancing my time between volunteer hours, school and my family.

Why did you choose FIEA?

BR: You have these great professors with all these great backgrounds along with these wonderful creative minds of students and being able to learn from them, too. Also the innovative technology on site. Everything’s kind of a real-world set-up from what I understand. I think that will be crucial in giving me that insider view for the next step in my career.