Mya Brown ’21 had dreamed of being a surgeon to help those suffering from Hydrocephalus, which is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the cavities of the brain. However, after her first year at Arcadia University, she found her passion for art and will graduate this May with a degree in graphic design.
“Changing my major was a hard decision to come to,” said Brown, whose medical path was inspired by her older brother, who died from Hydrocephalus when he was 17. Brown noted that she struggled with the feeling that she was letting him down by changing her major. “I wanted to become a surgeon so I could help people like my brother. When it came to switching my major, I thought, do I [pick a major] because of my brother or to be happy?”
Those feelings have subsided as Brown has found a way to combine her passion for art and the memory of her brother through her senior thesis. After reviewing the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) website, she knew that she could help them raise awareness by redesigning their website so it was more user friendly. After presenting her thesis this spring, Brown plans to ask HA if they’d like to use her design.
HA estimates approximately 1 million people currently live with Hydrocephalus in the U.S., which typically impacts infants or older adults. Often older children and young adults suffer from Hydrocephalus due to hemorrhaging, meningitis, head injury, or brain tumors. Hydrocephalus is the most common reason for brain surgery in children.
For Brown, she hopes that her design can be her first step in helping HA bring awareness to Hydrocephalus so she can continue to carry on her brother’s legacy. She describes him as a shy teenager whom she remembers playing video games with and watching cook in the kitchen with her mother.
“I miss his presence,” said Brown, who hopes by bringing awareness to a little known disease she can keep others from the same pain her family went through. “He was one month away from graduating high school.”
Enrolling as an art major her sophomore year was difficult though, as Brown needed to take 25 credits in both the fall and spring 2019 to make up for the missed classes her first year. She said the challenge was worth it though, as now she’s graduating on time and has already launched her own design business.
“I used the free time I had during the pandemic to start my own business,” said Brown, who markets her designs through her Instagram handle: MyaStudioDesigns. “The last year has been hard on small businesses, so I’ve been helping out where I can by providing logos, business cards, flyers, social media templates, and things like that for nominal costs.”
During the summer, Brown launched her business and has helped clients build their brands through a variety of packages. Although most of her clients are businesses in Philadelphia, Brown has produced designs and materials for those as far as Florida.
Although Brown is open to finding a full-time position after graduation, she knows that her business is there for her to continue to grow if need be. Some of her favorite work so far has come from helping clothing designers and boutiques develop their branding, and she wouldn’t mind building that part of her business out more.
“For me, Arcadia is where I learned a great deal—how to use the programs and the business aspects,” said Brown. “One of my professors taught us a lot about the business aspect. He gave us experience in working with clients—like what to do, how to talk to a client, how to set up a contract—which has really helped me.”