Friday, February 27, 2009

Eight Students Awarded $28,000 in Scholarships

The EDMC Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes scholarship money for students within The Art Institutes system of schools. The scholarship competition was open to all students at The Art Institute of California – Orange County who were at least half-way through their program, had a minimum 3.0 GPA and could demonstrate financial need. Students were required to write a short essay about their goals and submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

A scholarship committee made up of staff reviewed all entries and selected the recipients based on evidence of financial need and the clarity, composition and creativity of the written essay.

“The majority of the $28,000 we distributed in this competition was donated by our own faculty and staff through payroll deductions and fundraising events,” said Daniel Levinson, President of The Art Institute of California – Orange County and the EDMC Education Foundation. “Right now, people have to be more selective when it comes to making charitable contributions so it’s comforting to know that the funds go to the students they work with everyday.”

In their own words - quotes from the students' essays:

Carleen Carrasco, Interior Design - Huntington Beach
Carrasco, a single mother, said her daughter’s pursuit of a Graphic Design degree from The Art Institute opened her eyes to the possibility of realizing her own goal of a creative career.

“Observing my daughter’s achievements encouraged me to focus on my own dreams so a year after my daughter started school, I became a part-time evening student in the Interior Design program,” Carrasco said. “As an adult, returning to evening college has been financially challenging but I’m excited to finally change professional careers and work in a creative environment.”

Danny Hunsaker, Graphic Design - Santa Ana
Hunsaker said his goal was to start his own design firm where he would hire Art Institute students to give them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

“I am confident in the level of work that my fellow senior students can produce so I have no doubt that future Art Institute graduates will be just as capable,” Hunsaker said. “My design firm could be the launching pad for the next generation of influential designers.”

Eliza Khachtryan, Interior Design - Santa Ana
Khachtryan’s interest in interior design was sparked when her forward thinking father transformed their family food store into a furniture store.

“My father saw how our country, Armenia, was growing in terms of construction and thought it would be wise to start planning to meet future needs. He thought that interiors were the best measure of quality of life,” Khachtryan said. “I agree with my Dad that transforming spaces can transform lives but I don’t think great design is limited to the most affluent sector of society.”

Alisha Klein, Media Arts & Animation - Costa Mesa
Klein said one of the goals that drives her is the desire to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. Moving to Southern California from the Midwest on her own was the first of many accomplishments on the road to a degree.

“I have never missed a single class, turned in any work late and I was only late to class once,” Klein said. “In high school I was not the best student but now that I have a goal in sight, I am pushing myself to do my absolute best.”

Sarah Labrecque, Media Arts & Animation - Long Beach
Labrecque said being homeschooled for most of her life, made her feel uncomfortable in social situations. She was also intimidated by the level of talent at The Art Institutes.

“I was always told I was talented and I was determined to unlock my potential,” Labrecque said. “I have become a stronger, more independent person than I was when I started the program three years ago. I communicate better and my determination has not faltered.”

Mori Love, Industrial Design - Santa Ana
Love learned his craft from his grandfather, a spy for the Israeli government who was instrumental in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.

“My grandfather was a master craftsman and taught me everything I knew up until the age of 12,” Love said. “Sadly, I lost him a little over a year ago but I would still like to make him proud by becoming a successful designer.

Jean Simmons, Interior Design - Laguna Niguel
Simmons said her seven years in the workforce, three of them in the financial industry, prepared her for the daunting task of juggling a full course load with a full time job.

“I went through my first nine quarters as a robot – understand your task, break it into manageable components, set up a system, complete the task, repeat,” Simmons said. “In my tenth quarter, it hit me that design isn’t just about efficiency. Design is about caring for people and the environment and rising to the challenge of meeting the demands of both.”

Deborah Tomoguchi, Web Design & Interactive Media - Irvine
Tomoguchi, an avid softball player, said that during her first college experience, she was forced to set aside her passion for art to meet the demands of collegiate sports.

“Five years after graduating, I enrolled in school again but this time I was doing it for me,” Tomoguchi said. “All of my instructors have had such an impact on me and I am grateful for all their help and encouragement. I never experienced a bond like this in a university setting.”

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