Detroit based, Asian-American artist, Dominic Pangborn, was the keynote speaker for the senior class during Stony Point High School’s college and career day. He was invited by Assistant Principal Carita Forte because of his success and attitude after a difficult beginning.

Pangborn was born in Korea, in 1952 during the Korean War. He never met his father, an American serviceman. He lived with his mother, a Korean villager, for the majority of his childhood. At the age of 10, Pangborn’s mother sent him to the United States with the hope that he would have an easier life. He was adopted by the Pangborn family and spent the duration of his childhood with them and his 11 siblings in Jackson,Michigan . While Pangborn is an artist and designer by profession, his message to Stony Point seniors was not about art. Instead, Pangborn focused on overcoming adversity and believing in yourself.

Pangborn was no stranger to hardship growing up. He was a limited English speaking student with very little money. Pangborn says being raised with so little taught him to create, invent and see his life as it could be rather than how it was.

“There is always someone out there who will tell you that you can’t,” said Pangborn . “If you believe you can do something, you will do it. You have to have faith in yourself even when no one else does.”

Besides being the keynote speaker for the Stony Point senior class, Pangborn spent some time visiting with aspiring artists in the visual arts class where students were in awe of his accomplishments.

“I want to create art for a career and I’m interested in going to school in Michigan so that I can work for the auto industry designing cars,” said Stony Point Junior Alyssa Byrd. “Mr. Pangborn said it is definitely possible. He told me to apply for scholarships and continue with my art and to believe in myself. He said he would help me when I made it to Michigan and gave me his card.”

Pangborn speaks to students all around the country and encourages them not to limit themselves based on their current situation or what others think they should do.

“You have to follow your passion and get a good mindset and visualize what you want to do,” said Pangborn. “If you consider yourself an amateur at something and that’s it, that’s all you will ever be. You are what you believe you are.”

Stony Point Visual Arts Teacher Becky Freed shared the sentiment of encouraging students to follow their passion and praised Pangborn for his message.

“Dominic was a tremendous inspiration to my aspiring art students,” said Stony Point Visual Arts Teacher Becky Freed. “He encouraged them to follow their dreams and passion for art. He talked about having to get up and do things for yourself. He is very positive and also approachable telling everyone ’I will always do all I can to help anyone who asks me how to achieve their dreams.’ His story is phenomenal.”