Faces of CNM: Iyan Whitewolf Freeman

Iyan is a returning student who’s faced her share of challenges but it now using her time at CNM to fulfill her lifelong dreams
May 26, 2022

Iyan Whitewolf Freeman has a long list of things she’s had to live with and overcome in her life. She faced sexual abuse as a kid, went through foster care, was bitten by a spider that caused a number of health issues, and currently lives with lupus, diabetes, and PTSD. 

Throughout all her challenges, however, she’s maintained a strong sense of optimism.  

“Before I leave this earth I want to create a legacy of hope,” she says. “We are all living in such troubled times and people need to have that affirmation that they matter. They need to understand that their dreams can make a difference.”

To help create that legacy, Iyan, who’s 59, enrolled in CNM for a Digital Media degree. She’s always been a multimedia artist and writer and realized that she needed to better understand the current digital environment in order to spread and promote her work. 

“I came to CNM because I needed the skills necessary to finish, package, and bring my stories and art to life,” she says. 

At CNM, Iyan says she loves being able to choose whether she wants to take classes online or in person. Her health issues have pushed her to online classes but she’s excited to take a few on-campus classes in the fall. 

“If my body isn’t feeling well I can stay home and rest but know that I’m still getting all the necessary skills,” she says. 

Even though her classes are online, Iyan says she still gets plenty of interaction with her fellow students and instructors and feels like she’s part of a community. 

“I’m constantly being forced out of my comfort zone during my classes, but that makes me feel engaged,” she says. 

In five years time Iyan says she’s hopefully still healthy enough to be taking classes and wants to complete a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. She works with many different mediums and also hopes to have curated a well-received art show of her work.

After that her plan is to get a master’s in art education so that she can do art therapy for folks who have suffered trauma like her. 

“I’m almost 60, but I won’t let age or anything that’s happened to me hold me back,” she says. “I’m here to contribute meaningfully to society and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”