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Then and now: Students reflect transit experience in art

The definition of transit is to pass from one place to another. For a 15-year-old Valley student, transit means a connection to the future. Yet, this story has strong ties to the past.

Sofia Garcia is a sophomore at Cactus High School in Glendale. She is a student with a passion and that passion is art.

“Art is very important to me,” she explained. “Your world is reflected in your art.”

And now, Sofia’s world is reflected in a design that will be featured on a Valley Metro bus and light rail train for an entire year. This talented teen is the grand prize winner of the 15th Annual Design a Transit Wrap contest.

Sofia Garcia

“It is amazing that I can be part of something so big,” she said. “So many people ride the bus every day and so many people will see it every day.”

More than 190 high school students from 16 Valley schools participated in the contest. Entered as an independent project, Sofia admitted she thought about it for months and brainstormed about her creation and the slogan, “Our Future’s Ride.”

“A lot of people use the bus to go to school or college. Some people use it to go to work or visit their relatives,” said Sofia. “Everyone has their own story. It all depends on that bus because they are taking their own route to reach their future. It doesn’t matter what it is. Everyone has their own future and that bus is helping them reach that place.”

Design a Transit Wrap Train

Transit has helped connect Sofia to her future since an early age and that’s reflected in her winning artwork.

“I depicted a pregnant mother because it reminded me of when I was younger and riding the bus with my mother to my grandmother’s house,” she said. “I have very special memories.”

And learning she won the contest will undoubtedly be something she won’t soon forget.

“When my teacher and principal and a member of Valley Metro came to my school, it really shocked me,” she admitted. “I was in math class. They walked in and told me I won. It caught me off guard. I was in shock. I was trembling. I didn’t know how to react but I was so happy.”

Sofia’s artwork impressed the panel of judges, which included the very first Design a Transit Wrap winner, Maria Madrid Reed, who called Sofia’s design impressive.

“Upon first looking at it, I loved how colorful it was. I especially liked the details on each of the characters sitting on each side of the aisle. All of them looked so diverse,” said Maria. “It really reflects how Valley Metro welcomes people from all walks of life to use their transit services. Her slogan, “Our Future’s Ride,” emphasizes the fact that it’s a great service that many generations to come will be able to benefit from.”

When Maria recalls winning the contest at age 15, she didn’t anticipate then how much it would impact her future.

Maria Madrid with parents

“The following days were crazy,” she said. “I didn’t expect the media exposure. The day of the unveiling I felt like I smiled so much that my face was hurting.”

She is now a graphic designer for the Phoenix Suns. Maria said the exposure strengthened her drive to pursue advertising and graphic design in college and beyond.

Maria Madrid Reed

“Seeing my artwork and my name on that bus reassured me that anything I put my mind to is possible,” she said. “From then on, my interest in design and advertising grew much stronger.”

The Design a Transit Wrap contest is designed to be a fun way to engage current transit riders and spread awareness about the benefits of public transit to the riders of the future.

For Sofia, her future is as bright as her winning artwork is colorful.

“I’d like to be an independent artist and teach people, as well as create animated productions,” she said. “There are just so many things I want to do in art.”

So many ambitions for such a talented teen who is bound for success on her future’s ride.

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