— by Gabi Stevenson, Communications Manager

Roommates and Illustration majors Malayna Diplacido ’26 and Miles Williams ’26 didn’t become best friends overnight. Their bond, grounded in a shared love of art, was built in the halls of Moore.

They met in their ninth-grade math class at Abington Senior High School, where Diplacido first mentioned that she was taking art classes at Moore through its historic Young Artists Workshop (YAW). She was encouraged to attend by her mother, Lisa Kelley ‘92, a Moore graduate, and her ceramics teacher, who told her about the scholarships available to students in the program.

It turned out that Williams had been taking YAW classes for years. Their mother, an educator, saw them drawing as an elementary school student and decided to enroll Williams through a connection at the College.

“We were both clueless,” Williams said. “Neither of us had any idea that the other was walking onto that campus.”

When they both returned to YAW, the two realized they were in classes together and saw each other as work-study program assistants. They appreciated the chance to be around other young artists, instructors that believed in them, and a curriculum that encouraged creative freedom. Diplacido described the experience as one that helped her find “her people.”

“Being submerged in such an artistic environment is so beautiful and fun,” Williams added. “You get to talk about your interests and talk about art. It was so rare for us because we didn’t talk about our art with other people. It’s like magic.”

Williams and Diplacido say it was their mothers who urged them to attend Moore’s Summer Art & Design Institute (SADI), Moore’s pre-college summer program. The decision to attend was one they’re now grateful for, thanks to SADI’s structured curriculum. Students learn to handle a bigger workload and meet deadlines while living on campus, like a college student.

According to Diplacido and Williams, the best thing about SADI was the chance to build their portfolios. Through regular critiques and portfolio reviews, they developed the work that got them accepted into Moore as Illustration students.

“I feel like if I didn’t have that before [becoming a student at Moore], I would be way more stressed out than I actually was during my first year. It really does prepare you,” Diplacido said.

The best friends soon became roommates and joint studio assistants for Chris Williams, assistant professor of Illustration, helping him with social media and administrative work.

“Miles and Malayna are hardworking and empathetic illustrators. Watching them grow has been a great honor and journey,” Chris Williams said. “They exemplify the culture of what the art school should be and can be. Their true friendship will continue to blossom.”

Throughout every class, every program, and every opportunity, Diplacido and Williams were able to rely on each other for support, advice and a good laugh. Now, when they’re asked to do something, they say they’re often requested together.

“All those experiences, all the challenges we’ve gone through and all the work we did made us who we are, and we did it together,” Williams said. “It makes me feel good that we didn’t do it alone.”

After years of involvement in the Moore community, Williams and Diplacido learned a few lessons they can pass on to the next generation of youth artists coming to the College.

“Don’t get so caught up in trying to find yourself right away. Take the time to experiment, especially when you get the opportunity to go to a class and try a medium you’ve never used before,” Williams said. “Allow yourself to have freedom and learn the fundamentals, but just worry about having fun. Getting the work done will improve your confidence.”

Both students acknowledge that making the transition from program attendee to full-time BFA student can be daunting, but they believe the journey is worth it.

“It’s going to be a little bit harder, but you already have that groundwork [if you attend a Moore youth program],” Diplacido said. “You already know your way around, you know some of the teachers and you’ve got connections already. Don’t let it go to your head, but you’re going to have a bit of a leg up on everyone else.”


Want to learn more about Moore’s Young Artists Workshop (YAW) and Summer Art & Design Institute (SADI)? Click here for more information or contact us at or 215.965.4030.