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Innovators & Creators: Brianna Zúñiga

By Evangeline Delgado '11, Alumni Association Chair

Arts education at Walnut Hill involves a lot of figuring out how we appreciate process and product. Before we can appreciate either, we have to do both and fail at both, multiple times. And once we think we've got it, well, we usually fail again. We fall, play the wrong note, tell instead of show, fire our piece for too long, or misunderstand a character. Brianna Zúñiga, a graduate of our Writing, Film & Media Arts Department, is rediscovering process, and what that means beyond Walnut Hill.

Whether at a college, conservatory, or company, artistic excellence is the product we expect of ourselves after graduating from Walnut Hill. After delighting in the pride of walking down Walnut Street in our caps and gowns, and singing our senior song at Candlelight, we quickly jump right back into the process of discovering our next steps.

At the end of Brianna's first year at Columbia University, she found herself in a creativity drought. "I was tired of all the analytical paper writing in college," she explains. "Not feeling artistically charged." It was a year of immersion, academic rigor, and the challenge of grappling with all that college has to offer, as well as the realization that postgraduate life is not all that we expect it to be. Working in New York City over the summer, Brianna went back to a familiar outlet, listening to some of her favorite podcasts: The Daily, Getting Curious, and Black Men Can't Jump [In Hollywood]. Hoping for inspiration, she realized that there were very few podcasts from people who were in the process mode and not sure of the answers. So she did what was natural: she filled the void and created her own podcast called What Does She Know? "I wanted to shed some light, tell my story in terms of what was lacking, in terms of being a college student and not having everything figured out yet."

In her first episode, "Being & Not Doing: Rest in a Productivity Craze," Brianna sets her scene: a young woman who is asking questions, adjusting expectations, and inviting a conversation with those around her. "I don't know anything, that's the answer to the podcast name," says Brianna, but she is in search of those answers.

Now with eight episodes published, Brianna is well into her process. With topics ranging from "The Undoing of Columbia's Mental Health & Isolation" to "Talking Creativity & True Passions," she demonstrates publicly what we learn over and over at Walnut Hill, discovering our voice and honing our craft.


Support your fellow Walnut! Listen to the podcast and join the conversation.