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With the support and encouragement from her parents, Raya began to seriously explore art as a teenager where she began studying under Jack Cartlidge, a well known sculptor and professor of art at New College in Sarasota, Florida. One of her notable achievements during her apprenticeship, was the creation of life sized human sculptures out of cement. Seeing something special in his student, Cartlidge encouraged Raya to continue to develop her style and technique by exploring as many avenues as possible. After moving to San Francisco at 18, Raya began designing jewelry. She later moved to Mendocino, California, where she expanded her skillset to include printmaking. For three years she studied under Robert Rhodes, an instructor at the College of the Redwoods where she developed a solid technical foundation for the work she later produced. Raya feels that her recent works display her overall personal vision and philosophy that has continued to grow through her work.