WPU Alumnae, sisters create art for International Day of Peace

October 13, 2022

Two William Peace University (WPU) alumnae created an art installation to celebrate International Day of Peace on campus this year.

Celebrated on September 21, International Day of Peace is observed around the world. At WPU, the celebration’s theme focused on “End Racism, Build Peace.” The celebration featured WPU’s Dr. Rev. Harold Briscoe and an art installation created by two alumnae.

Sisters Leilani ’22 and Dalena Nguyen ’20 created an installation that featured three intricate paintings. Heidi Gailor, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Business Administration & Human Resource Management, invited them to create these for the day as Leilani created materials for last year’s celebration.

Set outside by the fountain, each piece had a unique meaning:

  • The Wild Horses piece featured not only the WPU’s Mascot, the Pacer, but also WPU’s community characteristics. Horses are known to live in teams to survive together and don’t discriminate based on color, the sisters explained. 
  • During the celebration, multi-colored roses were thrown in the fountain. The sisters created a painting of this moment to capture the meanings behind the act: the different colors symbolized different cultures and ethnicities from around the world. The fountain captures the beginning (orientation) and end (graduation) of WPU students’ educational journey. “WPU is made up of people from all over the world, only to have everyone gather around such a great treasure, the fountain,” they said in an email.
  • They also created a painting of doves greeted by outstretched hands. While the doves symbolize peace, the hands represent how the world should be a safe haven for all — something that WPU strives to do. “WPU always stands by its principles to treat others how they want to be treated; the University looks out for every one of its students, staff, and faculty to better their characters and careers,” they said. 

When the sisters are not creating art, they work at the pharmaceutical company, Locus Biosciences, Inc., as development technologists.

Dalena’s passion for science was driven through her time at WPU.

“The biology program really intrigued me and I knew that I wanted to help people through medicine. Instead of pursuing a medical profession in hospitals and clinics, which I initially wanted, I am now making vaccines and drugs that can actually cure patients of certain diseases,” she said. “All of those advising appointments and after-school hours with my professors to learn more about the material in my biology courses really drove my passion for science.”

While Leilani was drawn here by her sister and the biology program, she also came for the close-knit community. She found a supportive community in the faculty, staff and students. 

Leilani’s artistic abilities were previously recognized when she won the 2021 Student Art Contest hosted by the Office of Advancement with her piece of the fountain.

The sisters are proud to stay involved with their alma mater after graduation.

“I have never been at an educational institution that cared so much for those on their campus. The staff and faculty do everything in their power to help you achieve great things in life while peers cheered you on to reach your level of success,” Dalena said. “I miss [being in] that environment as a student, but as an alumna, I can still catch up with folks who helped us get to where I am today without the academic stress!”