Alumni Spotlight: Karlie Cunha | Cumberland University

Alumni Spotlight: Karlie Cunha

Karlie graduated from CU in 2018 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts and in 2020 with her Masters of Business Administration. Karlie is the small business owner and art instructor at Wild Colors Creative Design Studio in Lebanon, Tenn.

What were you involved in at CU? 

The Art Program and Best Buddies

It takes a lot of courage to open a business, especially in the midst of a pandemic, what does your company do and what made you decide to pursue starting it?

Wild Colors Creative Design Studio is an art studio that was created to help young artists build their confidence in their knowledge of art, increase their curiosity, and expand their imagination. Right now, we offer monthly after school lessons for ages 4 and up. I decided to start this business now because there is a major need for a space where children can use their creative outlet. Now more than ever, I think it is crucial for children to be able to express their emotions in one way or another, and I can provide that space for them by creating a fun and encouraging learning environment.

Why did you choose to attend Cumberland? 

Cumberland offers familiarity to me. When I was a little girl, I lived just down the street from Cumberland. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my parents taking me to the different sporting events. My sister also graduated from the nursing program in 1998.

How has Cumberland impacted you?

Cumberland has such a strong sense of community, and that is something I have carried over into my business. Learning from teachers that are invested in your life and future, makes a true difference in your experience on campus. I want to be involved in my students’ lives and impact them to the point that they remember me when they grow up and get their own jobs. 

What did you learn at CU that still impacts you today?

Involvement is key. Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in order to build up your community and network of friends and colleagues. 

Did you receive any scholarships while you were a student and if so, how did that financial assistance help you?  

I was blessed to receive multiple scholarships. Through the art department and endowed scholarships, I was able to complete my two degrees debt-free. 

Are there any professors or classmates who impacted your journey?

Dr. Peg Fredi was a light in my college career. She introduced me to photography, encouraged me to be confident in my work, and helped me land my senior internship with The Frist Art Museum. Dr. Fredi is the ultimate cheerleader for each and every one of her students at Cumberland, and I will never forget the impact she had on me.

What courses were particularly meaningful for you?

All of the art courses helped me master my craft and build my personal aesthetic. Knowing who I am as an artist helped me grow into the teacher that I wanted to be. 

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were a student? 

Your dreams are absolutely attainable if you work hard enough.