Design school… 24 years later

It’s a very long story, but through much prayer, discussion, and some God-moments, I have felt led to return back to school to study design again! It is a connection of my call to ministry and wiring as a designer that has led to this path. I look forward to learning and seeing how God leads!

The short version is that I am planning to pursue an MFA in Design in UC Davis. After all, the school is in our own back yard! After months of searching in online schools all across the country, I felt really discouraged and like giving up — and suddenly stumbled across a link to UCD’s graduate design school.

What? UCD has a graduate program in design? I never knew! Well, maybe somebody told me, but since I had never planned on going back to school to study design, I’m sure it went in one ear and out the other.

There’s a lot more to the story, including how it connects to ministry, but after getting my design degree 24 years ago, it is a super exciting thing to be studying design again! It is also challenging, as right now I actually don’t qualify for the UCD degree because it is an interdisciplinary degree and my thesis idea would require me to study interior and exhibition design.

To prepare, this week I started studying Interior Architecture and Design online through Academy of Art University. I actually signed up for the first class, which is like the prerequisite for all the other classes. Because it is summer, an entire week is compressed into 3 days (or 4 days for the alternate weeks). This first class was three days long.

Once I started the class and looked at the outline, I realized it was way too basic. I had covered most of it in design school. I had to request to waive the class, which meant I had to quickly dig through all my high school and college projects, photograph them, assemble a portfolio, find my transcript, scan it, and send it to the department. (Sure is nice being organized and a pack rat. I couldn’t believe I still had my high school projects, and that I was able to find them immediately!) I had to get approval from both the department and my instructor. This was Monday morning. I waited… and waited… they put a rush on it… then the system went down… Tuesday came… then they were out to lunch…

My advisor was top-notch. He kept on top of things and gave me repeated updates.

Finally, Tuesday afternoon (yesterday), I was in! 1.5 of the 3 days had elapsed. I started the second class, Construction Documents. I spent like 5 hours going through materials and assignments in order to get everything done when it was due, today!

I must say, it was quite a blast. Because I have had to do things at my church like draw facility plans, plan decorating and stage things, I have pored over our church blueprints. It has been quite baffling not really knowing what some of the symbols were for, though I have had a basic knowledge of reading plans. But learning just that first lesson was very enlightening!

Our first assignment was to draw a freehand sketch of the downstairs of our house. No rulers or measuring allowed and practically no erasing.



I think this is fairly close… though the consistency of my lines leaves something to be desired. I also didn’t quite know how to designate different appliances. Been too long… took drafting in high school! (Let’s see, that would be 29 years ago. Eek!)

Tonight Albert set up my drafting table that we got on Craigslist at 10% of its retail cost, a pro Arnal drafting table. It was a total steal… not a table close to that price online, even used! It was really dirty when we bought it but Albert cleaned it up and it really looks brand new! The Lord has provided so miraculously for this! I am also so incredibly appreciative of Albert’s support.

Balance definitely will be tricky. We are heading into Breakaway season. But the Lord has provided a ton of new leaders to take over a huge chunk of the work I used to do (because I used to do way too much by myself!), and I am hoping the load will be more manageable this year.

This is a new season of adventure… lots of transition happening at church, both kids going to be in college in a few months, and I’m starting up design school as well! Never thought I’d be doing this… but God works in mysterious ways!

A Yee

Angela Yee is a professional designer (graphic design, stage design, interior design — and teaches leadership skills at

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