Diligent dreamers: Gianna Damico, UB’s renaissance woman
Gianna Damico never plans on wasting time.
For her, life is about making the most of competition, physical exercise, academic pursuits, painting, graphic design and more. Between school, sports and her passion for photo-realistic portraits, Damico is one of UB’s budding renaissance women.
In fact, the junior fine arts and anthropology double major relies on her rigorous multi-tasking skills in order to balance her intense, eclectic schedule.
Damico is a member of UB’s track team and an up-and-coming commissions artist. She is also a member of UB’s honors college, the graphic designer for Blackstone LaunchPad and Patient Pattern, the student assistant graphic designer for UB admissions and an intern for the Jacobs Institute.
This many commitments may seem daunting to some, but this balancing gives Damico some added determination.
“I would like to be known for my work ethic and determination,” Damico said. “It can be both a good and bad thing. If I get my mind set on something, I will do anything I possibly can to make it happen.”
Such an intense schedule can take an emotional and physical toll. Damico said while her workload will be beneficial for her future career, it can also inhibit parts of her life right now.
“Obviously, [working hard] can be great for trying to get internships and other opportunities, but at the same time it can be kind of crippling,” Damico said. “I can get so set on something and block certain things out to where things suffer or people around me suffer.”
Aside from her rigorous course load and projects, Damico also trains throughout the semester with her track team. She only began training to join the varsity track team when she began college and discovered her interest in pole vaulting. She attributes her athletic inspiration to her younger sister, Olivia, and her passion for soccer.
Damico prioritizes her sleep schedule to help to prepare for early morning workouts, which can be difficult given her coursework and art interests. She would often have to choose between her own health and coursework.
“My body would be so exhausted that I would sit down and try to do work and it was just beyond me. That was definitely something I had to work on this past year,” Damico said. “ I got in a pretty good groove of it, but here and there some things did have to suffer a little bit to make sure I was doing everything to the best of my ability. It’s hard, you’ve just got to take an L sometimes.”
Despite the sacrifices Damico has made, she is currently one of the 20 recipients of the Honors College Presidential Scholarship with a cumulative GPA of 3.924.
Timothy Matthews, assistant director for the Honors College, said Damico is a great role model for other students.
“I always encourage students to get involved on campus while they are here and [Gianna] is one of the hardest working people on this campus,” said Matthews. “People should look at her for leadership. They should look at her as a shining example of a hard-working student. Someone they could certainly learn from.”
Damico said her art has helped her jump into other opportunities too, such as providing sketches for dissections and cadavers for some of her classes.
Although she began studying art in eighth grade, her skills have flourished throughout her time in college. Her skills have even allowed her to pursue commission work, using these opportunities to try a variety of styles and mediums.
Damico has created roughly 30 commissioned works –– from tattoo designs to murals to paintings that have been auctioned off overseas.
Through her struggle to find a balance between all of her pursuits, Damico inspires the people around her. Karyn St. George, administrative director for the Honors College, has witnessed Damico’s “impressive” work ethic first hand.
“As an incredibly gifted artist, top academic scholar and talented athlete, Gianna is remarkable,” St. George said. “Her diverse skills and talents, combined with her hard work and determination, allow Gianna to truly maximize her undergraduate experience. What is most amazing is that she does everything with a smile, and the bigger the challenge the brighter the smile.”
Damico prides herself on her ability to push herself and her willingness to try new things. She said these traits have helped in all of her life endeavors, whether artistic, athletic or educational.
“I’d like to be seen as open-minded and well-rounded. I want people to see that I am open to try new things and new ideas. Artistically, it would be new mediums and new projects, things that I haven’t really explored before,” Damico said. “Just being able to push myself in whatever I choose to focus on. Just being the best that I can really be.”
Samantha Vargas is the senior features editor and can be reached at Samantha.Vargas@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @SamMarieVargas