The education that Raya received during her formative years in Ann Arbor, Michigan was exceptional, especially in the field of art. Her inspiration and desire for a life of creative expression were seeded during this time. The creativity and encouragement of Raya’s parents also contributed to her development in the arts.
During her mid-teens Raya studied privately with Jack Cartlidge, a renowned sculptor and professor of art at New College in Sarasota, Florida. During her apprenticeship under him she created life sized human sculptures made with cement. Because of his belief in her artistic abilities, Mr. Cartlidge encouraged Raya to find her own style and technique through any avenue available to her. When she was 18 years old and living on her own in San Francisco she began designing and producing jewelry to support herself. This continued to be a medium that she enjoyed and found recognition in for many years.
While living in Mendocino, California, Raya discovered her talent and interest in printmaking. Her love of this medium led her to 3 years of study under the direction of Robert Rhodes, an instructor at the College of the Redwoods. This education laid a solid technical foundation for the work she later produced.
After moving to Phoenix, Arizona, Raya worked for Accent Graphics designing art as well as managing their etching department. During this time more than 60 of her print designs were published in limited editions of 200 each and were distributed nationally.