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Alumna Faith Weil Wight Pays It Forward
As Hillsborough High School Photography Teacher

8/14/13

West Windsor, N.J. – When Faith Weil Wight ’75 (A.A., Visual Arts) enrolled at Mercer County Community College, it was an easy decision.  She was a New York City transplant who had moved to East Windsor at age 17, spending her final year of high school at Hightstown High School.

Wight says she was drawn to the brand new college just 15 minutes down the road.  “The college had just opened the year before.  I had a plan in place to get my teaching certification in art education. Mercer was my stepping stone to everything that came after.”

Wight says she developed her passion for the arts during her years as a student in New York City and was planning to continue developing her creative talents.  Once she began taking classes at Mercer, she knew she had arrived at the right place.  She says she found an art faculty ready to bring out the best in her. 
 
“It was wonderful.  My professors were masters and very inspirational,” she said, recalling Mel Leipzig, Bill Barksdale, and James Colavita, as well as others whose names she may not remember, but whose lessons live on in her.  In addition to general education classes, Wight took a wide range of art courses, including drawing, print making, sculpture and photography.  Her flexible class schedule allowed her to work part-time while attending college.  She also took summer classes.

Faith Weil Wight ('75) in the Photography Studio at Hillsborough High School, where she has taught for 25 years.
 

When it came time to transfer, Wight moved on seamlessly to Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey).  There she earned her bachelor’s degree in Art Education.

For several years, Wight cobbled together a living as she pursued a job as an art teacher.  “I was a freelance photographer; I taught adult education classes in East Windsor; I was a substitute teacher,” she said.

With persistence and a little help from the placement office at Trenton State, Wight secured the job she was looking for: teaching photography at Hillsborough High School, where she has been for the past 25 years.
“Your career is something you don’t give up on,” Wight maintains. “If plan A doesn’t work, you move on to plan B.  You keep on going.  It’s something I believe in and something I tell my students,” she said.

Apparently they are listening.  Among her former students are an Associated Press photographer, a fashion photographer, a wedding photographer and a press secretary to a governor.

“There will always be a need for photographers,” Wight says.  “It’s something that cannot be replaced by a computer.”

When it came time to hire a photographer for her daughter’s wedding this summer, Wight did not have to look far.  “I hired my former student to take the photos.  I was amazed at how beautiful they were.  I believe in paying it forward.”

Wight describes the courses she teaches at Hillsborough as soup to nuts, including basic and advanced photography, darkroom skills, digital photography and Photo Shop.  “I embrace technology,” she says, noting that when digital photography emerged, she taught herself how to take digital photos and how to teach it to others.

And, when her students start thinking about college, she doesn’t hesitate to recommend atttending a community college.  “I recommend community college for economic reasons, for those who are not sure what they want to do, or for those who are not ready for the four-year school experience or don’t want to move far from home.  You can take classes and take your credits with you,” Wight says.


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