CLASS OF 2023: A Sprague artist puts her skills to work

This article is part of a series of profiles of graduating seniors in Salem high schools. Read the full series here.

Paige Huynh was looking for a way to stay busy and keep up her marketing skills during Covid.

She spotted a digital marketing internship for a Los Angeles-based matcha company she’d been following. It was only open to college students, but the Sprague High School sophomore decided to apply.

“I was like, YOLO, you never know. I don’t have anything to lose,” Huynh said with a laugh. “And then I ended up getting an interview with them and then they called me a week later and they’re like, ‘You got the internship.’”

Huynh, now 17, had made communication the cornerstone of her time at Sprague, whether on the basketball court or through her art and design.

She’s been a touchstone in the school’s marketing and business program, designing new logos and digital art for Salem businesses and keeping her classmates up to date with school happenings as the student government’s media coordinator.

“I’m a very creative person. I’m a people person. I love talking to people, creating new relationships, connections, community,” Huynh said. She was elected to the student government job as a freshman, running against three seniors.

“I was really shocked by the result when I heard how many people voted for me,” Huynh said.

Huynh started taking marketing as an elective her freshman year. Students in the program take on real-world projects, and her first client was a Sprague teacher who runs a side business selling macrame.

“I was just really nervous because I was like, I don’t know what questions to ask or how professional do I have to be with this teacher? But it was a good experience,” Huynh said. She and her classmates redesigned the logo and created a style guide for “Macrameg,” earning rave reviews from their client.

The logo Paige Huynh designed for a teacher’s macrame business.

Since then, Huynh has taken on more work for Salem businesses, designing a logo and other branding for a local barbershop incorporating Salem’s taco bridge into the artwork. She’s also worked with a local beauty salon and a group of Asian American and Pacific Islander Realtors and mortgage brokers.

“She has a natural eye for art. So the design comes pretty naturally,” said Justin Trammell, Sprague’s marketing teacher. “You can teach software skills and Illustrator and Photoshop but sometimes teaching like an eye for design is more difficult.”

Huynh took on other creative projects while at Sprague, painting custom shoes with her brother as a side business during Covid, and selling calligraphy cards and other handwritten pieces.

She’s also played varsity basketball as a shooting guard, captaining the team her junior and senior years. The Sprague team has struggled over the past decade, regularly winning just a few games per season.

Huynh’s senior year, the team went 12-12, their best record in recent memory.

“This year was a huge step for us,” she said. The team had to go through a mentality shift, from walking into games expecting to lose.

“Coaches really helped just reiterate, ‘Change that mentality,’ which was kind of the weakening point in our program,” she said. The team watched film back, pointing out mistakes they could change, and started believing they could win.

Huynh said while she’s not the best player, she’s the most vocal communicating with her team.

“I’m not afraid to get on your case about improving, getting better. I’m not afraid to give feedback to them because I know it’ll make them better and I just really enjoy pushing my teammates,” she said.

Huynh was named a Ford Scholar by the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation, a full ride scholarship which will cover her costs to attend the University of Oregon in the fall. There, she intends to major in business and marketing while also studying art and design.

She intends to run her own business someday, helping companies solve business problems using her design and marketing skills.

“She can speak the business language, she can speak the design language, pulls all that together. She’s always worked hard and put out really quality work from day one,” Trammell said.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.