For Mohammad Chaudhry, art was just another subject he excelled in at school — that is, until last December.
The junior got a surprise when his digital illustration was chosen by the Nassau County Bridge Authority for all of the community to see on the 2011 Atlantic Beach Bridge Pass Card.
"I was really surprised," Chaudhry, 15, of Inwood, said of his accomplishment. "I'm really happy about it."
The first printed pass card was given to Chaudhry on a plaque at the bridge authority's December board meeting.
For the first time, the St held a contest to design its pass card. The authority's board reached out to the Lawrence School District to ask for submissions from middle and high school artists, and were pleased with the students' creations, according to Vincent Grasso, executive director of the bridge authority.
"It's the first time we've done this," Grasso said of the new competition. "We hope to incorporate other school districts in the future."
The competition came down to five semifinalists, but Chaudhry's illustration stuck out the most, Grasso said. His winning piece features the Atlantic Beach Bridge and its surroundings shadowed by a large, pink heart, illustrating how valuable the bridge is to the local community.
"I think what appealed to the board about his [piece] was that it used a lot of different elements," Grasso added. "It had sentiment and emotion, and it tied in that the bridge is really a part of the community."
Joanne DelGuidice, Chaudhry's art teacher since his freshman year, said she knew Chaudhry had a shot at winning the contest.
"His ideas are usually outside of the box," she said. "Not only can he execute his ideas well on the computer, but his ideas are of a higher level. He's a take-charge kind of kid."
Chaudhry started out with a standard studio art class and after two years has come to master advanced digital illustration, according to DelGuidice.
Although a talented artist, Chaudhry has other plans for the future. "Art is a lot of fun and you get to try new stuff,” he said. But, he added, “I'm planning on going into engineering.”