As a child, becoming an art therapist was not one of George Nkrumah Meizah’s career ambitions.
“During my childhood growing up, I really had three career aspirations,” he says, “when asked I’d say ‘I want to become a doctor, computer specialist, and then every child’s favorite career which is becoming a pilot.’”
Despite dreaming of multiple diverse occupations, George had an affinity for drawing and tracing at a young age, which certainly led him to where he is now: a student studying Art Therapy at St. Thomas Aquinas College. George even has a minor in Communication Arts.
A native of Accra, Ghana, George recalls days playing soccer with his friends before living in the United States. He even acted in plays and presented speeches at events held at his elementary school.
Now, a resident of Closter, NJ, George continues to pursue his goals at STAC. He is currently involved and has been involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including the Art Therapy Club, Communication Arts Club, and Ambassadors for Christ (AFC) club. George serves as a Spartan Ambassador on campus. He is a student-athlete representing STAC on the club volleyball and track and field teams. George is even a recipient of the Leadership Award in 2019 for his work in the Office of Admissions.
George says that he was attracted to STAC for multiple reasons, one of which is the attention that students receive from their professors. He also attributes his decision to being enrolled in STAC’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP).
“I qualified for the HEOP program which was beneficial for me as an independent student to take more of the burden off financially. This program also requires one to maintain a certain GPA to remain, and it is very competitive. I use the resources around me such as advisors, and mentors in order to keep me on the right track,” George says.
George adds that STAC being close to home helped his decision as well.
George’s favorite classes at STAC cover art, art therapy, and communications. He says that these classes are Art as Therapy, Digital Media Art, 2 and 3D Art, Introduction to Mass Media, Introduction to Journalism, Introduction to Painting, and Drawing Skills and Processes.
A turning point for George in pursuit of his career was attending a conference held by STAC’s Director of Art Therapy, Professor Carol Greiff Lagstein. Through the experiences of the guest speaker working in Rikers Island, George found out that art therapy is not restricted to one particular setting. In other words, he could connect to clients anywhere.
“This made me think that I can use this career path to literally go places, not just rehab centers, hospitals alone,” George says, “So I chose this path to enable me to interact with clients to at least know how they are feeling. I know that it won’t be easy, but that contributes to a successful career.”
George credits Professor Lagstein as one of his mentors. He loves how as an art therapist, Professor Lagstein has a lot of insight that she can share with him and can answer his questions.
“My advisor, Professor Lagstein; because I keep updating her on my steps so far in securing internships, applying for grad school, and she gives me wonderful feedback on what steps to take,” George says. “Also, she makes me connect and network with people she knows in the field.”
Another mentor of George’s is STAC’s Assistant Professor of Management, Pamela Derfus.
“She is more about advice and life lessons and suggests the best scenario and the best approach to me if it’s best then I apply [it] to my decision making. Very easy to talk to, and very patient as well,” George says.
George’s work ethic extends beyond his studies. He has experience working as a deli clerk at Orangeburg’s Stop & Shop and as an employee in STAC’s mailroom. Furthermore, he helped teachers and their students as a Special Education and Math Department Assistant, volunteered at Bronx Career & College Prep High School in the Bronx, NY, served as a camp counselor at Mosholu Day Camp in the Bronx, NY, and worked as an administrative assistant in the admissions office on campus.
Now, George works as an art therapy intern in the PROs Program at Jawonio in New City, NY where he is not only supervised by art therapists but assists patients with disabilities and various needs.
Professor Lagstein commends George for his passion to help others.
“George has tremendous compassion and empathy for people who are struggling. His connection to art helps him to express himself, and he truly wants to help others to do the same. He will be an outstanding art therapist,” Professor Lagstein says.
When he is not working, George enjoys reading, playing video games, sketching and painting, exercising, playing sports, and experiencing nature.
George sees himself as an art therapist helping others and achieving a fulfilled lifestyle in five years.
“Becoming a model, making the world know my name, traveling around, having my own private practice, making my own schedules, and giving help to people that need it through Art Therapy and Counseling,” George says, “Just enjoying the stress-free lifestyle because, if I will look back today I will say ‘I have come a long way and I deserve it.’”