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My W&L: Amira Hegazy ’15

“Over my years at Washington and Lee I have constantly been drawing and redrawing myself, trying to find the most sincere, visceral and true parts.”

When I first came to Washington and Lee I thought I had my life figured out: I was going to law school, then running for political office when I came of age. And, like most students, I began my first semester by taking the required courses, trolling through one subject at a time. That fall I took Drawing I with Leigh Ann Beavers. One day in class as I was painstakingly trying to draw a wilting fern, Leigh Ann came up to me and suggested I stop looking at my paper so that I could see the plant. At first I didn’t understand how that would help. How could I know what I was drawing if I wasn’t looking at the marks I made? How did she think I could look at two things at once? Then as I looked at her, obviously confused by her suggestion, she told me something I’ll never forget. She said, “Draw the truth in what you see. Find the truth in the object.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but as a first-year student I didn’t quite understand what she meant. Though I think after three years and countless drawings, I’ve finally figured it out. If I ever want to succeed, I need see what I am aiming to achieve–and even more, I need to see it in its most bare, most ‘true’ state. I think Leigh Ann’s direction is as true in drawing as it is in life.

Since that first fall semester I have changed a lot. I’ve accomplished things I never dreamed of doing, and I think it all started from that phrase “draw the truth.” I feel that over my years at Washington and Lee I have constantly been drawing and redrawing myself, trying to find the most sincere, visceral and true parts. I know I am not yet done finding those parts of myself, but with each experience I have, I learn a little more and compile it in with the parts of who I truly am.

Through my liberal arts education I’ve had the chance to explore so many facets of my passion for art. I am able to make art, while also learning how to study art from a sociological perspective and assess it in relation to its effects on people, nations and the world. Without having the chance to pursue my scholarly inclinations as well as my expressive impulses, I would never have been truly happy in my education. I was surprised at the ease with which each of my interests fell in with one another: My initial interest in politics seamlessly merged itself with my studies in art and my love of travel. Now, for the last three years I have had the chance to travel to Cairo, Egypt, and study how the political changes there have affected the art and how the art is also influencing politics.

As a senior, I feel I have found some truth in who I really am. I love art and I feel confident that when I leave Washington and Lee I will be able to lead a successful career in it because of the education I have gotten. I still talk to Leigh Ann every day, and she still tells me to search for the truth and to feel what’s right in my art and in my life. Frankly, without her and many of the other people I’ve encountered at Washington and Lee, I could never have dreamed of being this fulfilled in my education and optimistic about the prospects ahead of me.

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Hometown: Milford, MI

Majors: Studio Art and Sociology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Arts League
  • Pi Beta Phi
  • SSA Organization Committee
  • Aseda Fashion Project

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Year-long Study Abroad at the American University in Cairo in Cairo, Egypt
  • Spring Term abroad in Italy
  • Independent Sociology research in Cairo, Egypt

Post-Graduation Plans: Spending a year in Cairo, Egypt to pursue a career in the arts and work with many of the people I met during my research.

Favorite Class: Printmaking II with Leigh Ann Beavers

Favorite W&L Activity: Hanging out with friends during Spring Term and exploring the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I dye my hair pink because it makes me feel invincible, like a superhero.

Why did you choose your major? When I originally came to W&L I had a very different major in mind, but after I took my first studio art class with Leigh Ann I realized that I should pursue what makes me happy rather than what I felt pressured to do. Making art is such a huge part of my life now that I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I kind of stumbled upon my sociology major after my time in Egypt, since it allowed me to study a wide variety of subjects in the social sciences and apply it to my time abroad.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Make sure to leave your mind open to new possibilities.