Submitted Photo
Valerie James (middle) with her two younger sisters Diana and Kirsten at a jewelry gallery.

Alumni Spotlight: Valerie James, class of 2012

With an instinct for the arts, North Penn Graduate of 2012 Valerie James has put her creative ends together to form stunning jewelry. J Pod and the art department was home to James as she made her way through high school. Not only was James taking AP art classes, painting, and drawing, she was Editor and Chief of the Accolade. Leadership seemed to be a pattern for James and she went on to become President of the Creative Artists Club and North Penn Arts Honor Society.

“North Penn High School provided a challenging and rewarding platform for me to develop the skill and patience necessary for applying to art school,” reflects James.

Temple University was the next stop after graduating from North Penn. The Tyler School of Art become her new J Pod where she was able to find a new form of art and would eventually graduate with it. James graduated from Temple in 2016 with a major in Metals/Jewelry/CAD-CAM. After working full time as a designer at International Manufacturing Company on historic Jeweler’s row in Philly for a year, she decided to head back to school. With a passion to develop her conceptual artwork further and gain teaching experience, James went to Rhode Island School of Design for their graduate program. With a focus in Jewelry and Metalsmithing, James plans to graduate in June.

“I have been fortunate enough to receive some awards that helped fund my grad school education such as the Tiffany and Co. scholarship and the Women’s Jewelry Association Peggy Kirby award. I have been teaching a variety of jewelry courses at RISD in addition to my own required courses,” explained James.

Jame’s Graduate Thesis Exhibition is in May and will be presented in the Rhode Island Convention Center. Her work has also been selected for two upcoming exhibitions and will travel the art world. James wants to continue teaching at a College or University in the near future.

One on one with Valerie James:

What is your favorite part about college?

“I loved attending both undergrad and in a city environment – being so close to so much cultural influences like art museums, concerts, restaurants, etc., was such an incredible part of the experience. It also made for a nice change of scenery when the high-paced demands of school got to be too much, there was always a stress reliever to be found amongst the streets of Philadelphia or Providence.”

What do you miss most about North Penn?

“I definitely miss my teachers the most. They played such an important role in my life, encouraging me to pursue my dreams and challenging me to do my best. Without the teachers I had at North Penn I would not have become the person and artist I am today.”

What is your advice to current high schoolers?

“Don’t give up on your aspirations. It is easy to build up negative feelings around a certain goal you have if things aren’t working out the way you anticipated, but perseverance is something I have found to be so helpful in pursuing my own goals in life. Our path may not always turn out the way we planned, but it is a path nonetheless and even if we encounter bumps along the way, it is bound to lead us somewhere great.”


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