A picture of Oxford University.

A photo of Oxford University.
Photo courtesy of Pablo Fernández at Flickr Creative Commons.

When life gave Claudia Vulliamy lemons, she didn’t make lemonade; she made art.

Last year, Vulliamy applied to study classics at Wadham College (a constituent of the highly esteemed Oxford University). On January 11, she received a rejection letter. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Vulliamy decided to put the letter to good use. Within a matter of hours, she had created a work of art from it.

Vulliamy’s mother, Louisa Saunders, was relieved to know that her daughter took the news so well.

“Between that time [she told me she had been rejected] and when I got back from work, she had made this artwork,” Saunders stated. “I thought it was very funny and very spirited, and obviously I was glad she wasn’t feeling too sad about it.”

Shortly after her daughter created the piece, Saunders uploaded a photo of the artwork to Twitter. She had no idea that the photo would end up going viral.

To date, the photo has 155,867 likes and more than 49,000 retweets. It’s served as a source of inspiration for many Twitter users, many of which experienced similar rejection.

“I didn’t get into Cambridge and it’s harmed my life and career not one single jot. She’ll do brilliantly,” wrote Twitter user Holly Smale @HolSmale.

As for Claudia Vulliamy, she couldn’t be happier with the public’s response. Although her initial intent was rather playful and lighthearted, she’s glad that it’s helped others overcome the sting of rejection.

“In retrospect I quite like how it is interpreted as Oxbridge doesn’t determine everything, I like that it’s cheered people up,” Vulliamy stated.

Vulliamy reports that she had never really had her heart set on Oxford to begin with, so the letter was never really all that heartbreaking. She has since been accepted into Durham University, where she will attend school in the fall.