The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Menlo Alumni Treat Art as More Than A Passion

Hratko’s sketches for an assignment in one of her art classes at Carnegie Mellon. Photo courtesy of Hratko.

Among Menlo’s student body with diverse interests, many creative alumni have already found their callings. These alumni are now majoring in the arts at colleges that are nurturing their artistic growth.

For alumnus Kaylie Wu (‘23), a current freshman at the University of Southern California, her passion has always been music — not in terms of performing music, however, as Wu has never played an instrument. Instead, while touring USC, she was drawn to a major called music industry. “[It] doesn’t actually require you to play instruments or music, you just learn how to manage [artists] and, like, do contracts and agreements,” Wu said. “And I realized that this is exactly what I wanted to do, but not many other schools had this major.”

Wu only applied to one school as a music major: USC. Wu’s top choice was also USC; there, she has found the perfect balance in her music endeavors and enjoys the supportive atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, alumnus Michele Hratko (‘23) had always felt a fondness for the visual arts; this interest only grew when Hratko began taking Menlo’s art classes and joined the art club. “I was in the art club with Nina, I think every year, and I was the president when I was a senior,” Hratko said. 

Hratko now attends Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as a design major. “I was looking into architecture programs at first. And then I found the Carnegie Mellon design program, which I was more drawn to,” Hratko said. 

Hratko appreciates the broad curriculum at CMU. “There [are] three tracks in the design program,” Hratko said. “I kind of chose this [major] because it has those three tracks that allowed me to explore the different parts of design.”  Like Wu, Hratko is also enjoying her experience at CMU, as she appreciates all of the time students get to focus on design and art.

Wu experiences impostor syndrome from being in a major where everyone — not just a few people — is dedicated to the arts. “My major is pretty small. It’s about thirty of us […] And being surrounded by a lot of people who play instruments, at times, it can feel like impostor syndrome,” Wu said. 

Hratko has also felt the effects of impostor syndrome. “I think it’s difficult to go from a small school like Menlo, where there aren’t as many artistic-focused people, to a major where we’re surrounded by design-focused people […] It’s super inspiring though because everyone around me is extremely talented instead of being one of the few designers in high school,” Hratko said. 

However, both graduates are satisfied with their decision to pursue what they are currently studying as the connections they are making are memorable. Wu’s current job as a caterer allows her to work closely with artists. “We just get to go backstage [before shows] and we help with catering and then after, we get wristbands to go watch the show ourselves. So that’s been a really cool way to start in the music industry,” Wu said. 

Similarly, Hratko meets upperclassmen and different students through CMU’s Lunar Gala Club, which organizes a fashion show at the end of the year. “I’m on the print design team, which means I’m working with people to design our posters and branding, which is really cool; […] it’s a great way to meet people,” Hratko said.

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About the Contributor
Sienna Lew, Assistant Spread Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: discovering new things about our diverse community through the stories I pursue

Interests outside of school: poetry and creative writing, running, listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, mock trial

Class of 2026


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