2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: David Pfeil

    For the past 20 years, David Oliver Pfeil has played a key role in Academy of Art University’s commencement ceremonies. The former director of the School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPT) creates the engaging videos that celebrate the accomplishments of each distinguished alumni and honorary doctorate recipient. This year, in addition to filming the stories of other honorees, Pfeil got to turn the spotlight on himself. On May 9, he received an honorary doctorate from Academy President Dr. Elisa Stephens.

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    Class of 2018 Valedictorian: Dante Finn

    Dante Finn, Academy of Art University valedictorian from the School of Game Development (GAM), always knew he wanted to be an artist – in fact, he preferred art to his own family.

    “When I was four years old, my mom, who is here today, told me that my sister was going to have a daughter and that I was going to be an uncle,” he told the audience during his speech at the May 9 afternoon commencement ceremony at Bill Graham Auditorium. “I replied, ‘I don’t want to be an uncle. I want to be an artist!’”

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    2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Jan Yanehiro

    The graduating class of the School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) was just as excited to see Jan Yanehiro, COM director, receive her Academy of Art University Honorary Doctorate as much as they were to receive their diploma.

    When she walked the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium stage on May 10 to receive the certificate from Academy President Dr. Elisa Stephens, COM students stood as they whooped, hollered and clapped for the person they knew as not only a pioneer in the field, but as their instructor, mentor and friend.

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    2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Willie Real

    Willie Real was a student at the School of Visual Development at the Academy of Art University during a time when “everyone was saying 2-D animation was dying.”

    “Maya came in and 3-D animation was a big hit – Pixar had already created a few huge 3-D movies – I dipped into 3-D animation and illustration but the tools didn’t feel right,” he explained. “I like the feel of paper, it’s a little more tactile for me, so I decided to focus on visual development and put a portfolio together and it worked – the [Academy] was cool, because I was able to, in a way, create my own path.”

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    Class of 2018 Valedictorian: Ray Chang

    Academy of Art University selected Ray Chang of the School of Web Design & New Media (WNM) as one of this year's valedictorians. Chang came from Taiwan in 2013 to the Academy with no formal artistic training. Five years and many hours of work later, at the top of his class, he gave his valedictorian speech to hundreds of his instructors, classmates and their loved ones.

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    2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Alberto Bertoli

    Academy of Art University has awarded School of Architecture (ARH)'s Alberto Bertoli with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his outstanding work in the field of architecture.

    Bertoli is a veteran architect with close to 50 years of experience in the field. His education began at University of Buenos Aires where he received his Bachelor of Architecture before continuing at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

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