Former Oxford resident and Talawanda High School graduate Rebecca Zomchek has published a second book with her illustrations.
The children’s book entitled, I Grew Up To Be President, was published by Scholastic Inc. and followed her first children’s book, A Tale of Famous Heroes.
Zomchek said I Grew Up To Be President is a book that goes into detail about the childhood of each United States president as well as their family lives, careers, accomplishments and other details kids will find interesting.
Zomchek began working in the academic and artistic worlds in Oxford and has expanded since moving to New York City.
“I went to Talawanda High School and when I was in Oxford I worked part time doing freelance art for awhile,” Zomchek said. “However the economy wasn’t great and then I went to Syracuse [University] for undergrad.”
However, Zomchek said she did not always know illustrating was what she wanted to do. Her parents read to her all the time as a child and her mother, Kristen Zomchek, who works in the psychology department at Miami University as the assistant to the chair of the department, always encouraged reading and academics.
“When I applied to college I actually didn’t know if illustrating was what I wanted to do … I did some painting that was not very career based for a while, though I liked the idea of publishing rather than gallery work,” Zomchek said. “Once I figured out in college a little more and talked to some illustration programs, I got more into it.”
Before she began graduate school, Zomchek said she came back and took a full year of classes at Miami while deciding what she wanted to do.
“Just having Miami here and being exposed to other lectures, people coming in and speaking and growing up in a small community that had Miami so close opened up the door to opportunities a great deal for her,” Kristen Zomchek said.
Zomchek’s mother said having both the small community and the large city experience was beneficial for her daughter.
“When she came home after Syracuse she had the chance to take classes that she couldn’t during her undergrad,” Kristen Zomchek said. “She was taking honors classes and six hourlong studios there so having a chance to come back and take classes at Miami gave her an opportunity to take a broader range of art classes that she only could’ve had at Miami.”
Kristen Zomchek said having more mentors at Miami in the art department was also beneficial.
“She was able to work very closely with Sara Butler, a professor in Miami’s art department who now teaches history of western dress,” Kristen Zomchek said. “Through working with her she had the chance to see and do other things that she could never have done at Syracuse. So that was amazing as well.”
Zomchek attends graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and will graduate in five weeks. She lives in midtown New York and said she definitely plans to continue illustrating and would even like to create her own series of books one day.
“The reason I went to grad school was because I would like to maybe one day become a professor,” she said. “Growing up in Oxford and with my parents being so involved and working at Miami, I’ve been around academics my whole life.”
Zomchek said she still visits Oxford to see her family whenever she is on breaks and will most likely return over the summer as well.
“I love Oxford,” Zomchek said. “It is so picturesque. It’s great to go back now that I have left for a while. I love the city but it’s nice to have both the city and the quiet little town too.”
Miami sophomore and integrated English language arts education major Molly Miles said she thinks it is great that an Oxford resident has gone on to help create such appealing literature. She also said she believes reading the book to future students would be a great way to bring a sense of community to education.
“As Miami remains a tight-knit community, our graduating education majors should definitely support authors, illustrators and fellow community members in Oxford,” Miles said. “Reading Rebecca’s illustrated book would be doing just that.”
Zomchek said she believes the problem solving and creative side of illustrating is what draws her to it the most.
“Illustrating is like problem solving and it’s also like writing because you have to approach it in different ways and everyone does it differently,” Zomchek said. “It’s always appealed to me.”