By Stu News Laguna

LCAD Alumna Liz Espinoza-Nguyen began studying privately with Laguna College of Art + Design’s (LCAD) Fine Arts faculty members Brittany Ryan and Taylor Montague, who introduced her to LCAD’s Post-Baccalaureate in Drawing and Painting certificate program. “They said, ‘Don’t start over with another undergraduate degree,’” she remembered. “’Get your skills up, develop a portfolio and then go for your MFA.’”

LCAD’s one-year, 30-unit post-bacc program supports students in their personal journey toward artistic excellence while preparing artists and their portfolios for professional goals and/or advancement to an MFA program in studio art.

Liz founded the Rosa Thay Nguyen Children’s Foundation (RTNCF), a nonprofit organization with the mission to give underprivileged children access to medical care and intervention in the U.S. and other developing countries after graduating from LCAD.

The Foundation is dedicated to generations of women like Liz’s mother who immigrated from war-torn Vietnam to the United States with her young family. It was inspired by Rosa’s courageous spirit and her open-door policy to friends and family in need.

No matter where her job took her – Chicago, San Francisco, and eventually Los Angeles – Liz Espinoza-Nguyen always carved out time and space to paint. As an officer with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, she managed many complex organized crimes, public corruption, human trafficking, and other white-collar crime investigations. But she never abandoned her passion for drawing and painting.

“Everywhere I went, I took classes at community colleges or found private tutors,” Espinoza-Nguyen said. “But when I retired, and my daughters were grown up, I decided to make my art my life.”

Liz met with Betty Shelton, chair of LCAD’s Post-Baccalaureate program, and, in 2017, began her coursework in representational fine art. The work was challenging, but she began to see a transition in her art. She also found a new community of friends. “The women were like me,” she said. “We had put our art on hold to balance our families and careers. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Liz decided to marry her art with her nonprofit’s mission. “The RTNCF is about love and compassion for humanity, especially children who desperately need our help for a chance to live a healthy life,” Espinoza-Nguyen said. “My paintings are a way to express the foundation’s spirit and to fundraise so we can get medical care to children in third world countries.”

Liz’s LCAD family – Betty Shelton, Any Dylan, Erin MacDonald, and Machiko Naganuna – are now members of Espinoza-Nguyen’s advisory board. They all have donated art to the RTNCF’s first silent auction and gala, The Journey of Courage, set to take place on June 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, 21500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.

In December 2019, Espinoza-Nguyen will exhibit her work at John Wayne Airport, making her a very busy painter.

“If you have earned a bachelor’s degree with some studies in studio art and are considering pursuing your dream of becoming a skilled artist, you are a prime Post-Baccalaureate candidate” Espinoza-Nguyen said.

“I have found a new purpose for my art.”

For more information about the RTNCF, visit   

Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is one of the top art and design schools in the nation. LCAD offers undergraduate degrees (BFA) in Animation, Drawing + Painting, Extended Reality Design (XRD), Game Art, Graphic Design + Digital Media, Illustration and Illustration in Entertainment Design, as well as Master of Fine Arts degrees (MFA) in Art of Game Design, Drawing, and Painting.

For more information about LCAD admissions, news, events, and Annual Fund, visit