Kaitlin Suzuki has a full laundry basket, but she isn’t putting off washing her clothes. Instead, it is full of supplies for her hobby, which is painting.
Suzuki plans to graduate with a degree in early childhood elementary education in Fall 2018. She hopes to use her artistic skills to customize supplies for her future students.
“My room is quite a mess,” said Suzuki, who played as a defender on the lacrosse team from 2015-18. “I have a shelf, and then this carousel that holds my paints. And usually my desk is pick or choose, either school work or painting supplies.”
When Suzuki graduates, she will be certified to teach kindergarten to fourth-grade students in traditional education and kindergarten to eighth-grade students in special education. Suzuki said her ideal job would be teaching second grade.
“I think second grade is kind of the perfect time,” Suzuki said. “You’re getting up there in the world, and then you’re really starting to learn.”
Before she decided to study in the College of Education, Suzuki considered pursuing graphic design. In high school, she ran a small business customizing classmates’ graphing calculators. She also made phone cases for herself and her father. Her favorite subjects to paint were animated characters, especially Winnie the Pooh.
In addition to calculators and cellphones, Suzuki has also painted furniture and headphones. She has used her artistic ability to give gifts to fellow Temple athletes.
Suzuki painted a portrait for volleyball graduate outside hitter Irem Asci last year.
The painting was a surprise for Asci, who now has it on her wall, Suzuki said.
“If it didn’t go well, I didn’t have to give it to her,” Suzuki said.
She didn’t have to worry. Asci commented “Best gift I’ve ever had!!!” on Suzuki’s Instagram post of the piece.
In Spring 2016, Suzuki painted the graduation cap for Rachel Hall, who played goalkeeper from 2012-15 for the lacrosse team. Hall graduated in 2015, but her mother had to accept her diploma on her behalf after she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a hit-and-run accident. Hall recovered and walked at graduation one year later with the class of 2016.
Suzuki painted the head of a shark, Hall’s favorite animal over an American flag motif and added the No. 16, which Hall wore during her career.
“It was nice to do something for someone, that it meant a lot,” Suzuki said. “It was really cool. She was the one who had all the ideas, so it was really easy to figure out the best design for it.”
Suzuki is open to painting graduation caps for her teammates, but she said nobody has approached her about it yet this year.
When she becomes a teacher, Suzuki also wants to work with children during summers.
“One day, I’m going to open up my own summer camp for kids,” Suzuki said. “Sports would be a big thing, and then art, and I’d have a music person too.”
Suzuki would run the art aspect of the camp herself.
“I can’t wait to like bring that, and incorporate it into teaching,” she said.