Kelly Latham beat cancer. What did she do next? She went to Disney World — and began to see the rest of the world with new eyes.
Latham, a design major from Lawrence, was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma during her first semester at KU. She took chemo during the day and classes for her illustration and animation concentration at night — something she now admits may have been too ambitious.
When she was declared cancer-free, she took a celebratory trip to Disney World. She has always dreamed of working there, and then she learned about the Disney College Program.
“I just thought, ‘I beat cancer; I’m going to go after a Disney internship. I beat cancer; I’m going to travel the world. I beat cancer; anything is possible,’” Latham says.
She applied for the internship program. And then she spent five months studying abroad in Italy.
Latham attended classes at the American University of Rome in the morning, explored the city in the afternoon, and traveled to Paris, Athens, and other European destinations on weekends.
“It was just me and my sketchbook,” she says.
Looking at those sketches, Latham acknowledges the artistic progress she’s made. She draws with a steadier hand and sharper point of view.
“Now I have an expanded knowledge of how to create buildings and places and environments,” Latham says. “My illustrations have become more cultured, too.”
Drawing Disney castles? Also new for Latham. When she returned from Italy, she was ready for the Disney internship she had dreamed of. During the four-month program, Latham used her spare time and an all-access theme park pass to explore and capture the character of Magic Kingdom in sketch-form.
She graduates this spring and hopes all of her college experiences — her art education, study abroad trip, and internship — will allow her to illustrate movies one day.
No matter what, she says she will continue traveling and visually journaling life. “Drawing is how I know what I’m drawn to.”