Graduating Seniors studying at the Art Institute of Mill Street Loft have made some amazing strides this year in their pursuit of college and careers in the arts. Heralding from numerous schools throughout the Hudson Valley, the group of 13 seniors has been offered more than $3 million in merit-based scholarships to some of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Six of the seniors this year received scholarship awards surpassing $100,000 to the college of their choice and two were offered more than $130,000. In addition, students won several national awards in the Young Arts Competition and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards among other regional and local awards.
Director of the Art Institute, Todd Poteet stated, “I am just so proud of these students. They come from every walk of life and have worked so hard to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. I have no doubt they will join the ranks of our other graduates with careers at Nike, Comedy Central, Tiffanys, Anthropologie, Broadway; in professions like industrial design, graphic design, character design, special effects, and myriad careers I can not yet imagine.”
One of the students Mr. Poteet is referring to is Imani Jones. Imani comes from the north side of Poughkeepsie, goes to Poughkeepsie High School, and has been in the program for four years through a special scholarship program for low income youth. During that time she has developed from a student who was thinking about dropping out of school to a scholar being awarded college scholarships. Imani has her eye on the future. Her senior thesis “Life as a Black Teen in the U.S.” will be presented at the New York State Art Teachers Association Region 7, 11th annual Symposium for Art Education. The Symposium is scheduled for April 30, 2016 at SUNY New Paltz. Imani will lead a discussion with art educators on what drove her to create this powerful series, how it impacts all our lives, how she felt empowered to make it, and how classroom teachers can empower their students to have a voice. Currently Imani has been admitted to Maine College of Art, Lesley University, Lyme Academy College of Art and Savannah College of Art & Design. She is finding the choice a difficult one to make.
Of the schools students chose this year, Maryland Institute College of Art topped the charts with Anthony Kim (Spakenkill HS), Morgan Suter (Rhinebeck HS) and Terri Ogwulumba (Arlington HS) all choosing to study there. Azure Leffeld (Rhinebeck HS) will be attending Pratt Institute; Jennifer Scaraville (Arlington HS) chose The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Elvis Ricketts (Poughkeepsie HS) is headed to Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts; Chris Cortez (Poughkeepsie HS) chose Dutchess Community College; Grace Cham (John Jay HS) will be attending School of Visual Arts; Hali Barthel (Onteora HS) chose Rhode Island School of Design; Stephanie Weinger (Washingtonville HS) will be attending Moore College of Art; Diana Bortz will be going to Art Institute of Boston; and Nikki Parker (Ketcham HS) chose Savannah College of Art & Design.
Among the students declared majors are: Fine Arts, Film, Animation, Graphic Design, Illustration and Virtual Reality Technology, Photography, and Visual Communications.
“The arts are a career path with a real future.” said Todd Poteet, “With college tuitions constantly rising, students need programs like the Art Institute of Mill Street Loft to help them navigate the process and to achieve the scholarships that make college affordable.”
These same seniors didn’t just put together amazing portfolios to college, They are also engaged in various community service projects. Under the guidance of the Art Institute Director, they are spearheading a series of murals for the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie and a large public art piece to be created during the Poughkeepsie Open Studios event on June 18th. They are a testament to how the arts can fuel and empower our youth to higher education and viable careers. They demonstrate every day that arts change lives.