Well, that depends on who you ask.

This year, at the 2017 Ringling College Trustee Scholar Awards, 400 friends, families, and supporters celebrated the moxie and momentum of thirteen students barreling toward their creative futures.

The theme, FULLSTEAM, was selected in recognition of the hustle and grind that fuel every successful creative endeavor in the world of art and design, not to mention the energy and excitement that build as our talented students make their way through their final year at Ringling College.

The annual event was, per usual, stunning. From the rose gold foil on the invitations to the painstakingly perfect accents of whimsy and wonder speckled about the ballroom, the ambiance was nothing short of inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, two sizable monitors highlighted student work created by the Trustee Scholars themselves. If you attended, in fact, you interacted with their work from the moment you received your invitation, designed by 2017 Graphic Design Trustee Scholar Silpa Joe, to the videos played throughout the night, created by the 2017 Motion Design Trustee Scholar David Reyes and Motion Design junior Maddie Hodgetts.

The night was a remarkable celebration of the power of creativity to transform the stale, the trite, and the overused into the stupendous, the tremendous, and the outstanding.

Attendees were inundated with the energy and excitement of the evening upon entering the ballroom. And then the guests of honor took the stage. “These are the students who best exemplify dedication, originality, brilliance, ambition, and talent,” says Chair of the Ringling College Board of Trustees Dean Eisner. “And tonight we honor their achievements as emerging artists, designers, and creatives.”

In short, they are the reason for the event. And the time has come for the Scholars to tell their stories. To celebrate the ups and explore the downs of their artistic journeys, to inspire guests with their passion, to share why, with all of the work it entails, they choose to embrace a future in art and design, and to explain what it means to them to be FULLSTEAM.

So, what does it mean?

According to our Photography & Imaging Trustee Scholar, Ethan Early, it means “we must uphold the responsibility and obligations of every artist—to inspire thought and question everything. To be storytellers.”

If you asked Jared Lewin, the Scholar for Game Art, it’s about connecting with family in Cuba who “couldn’t communicate in the same language. Immediately they shared the art they loved, and I shared mine. And we bonded even without a common language.”

For Keishen Lloyd, this year’s recipient selected by the Office of Student Life, “in the end, it is simple: do what makes you happy.”

Whatever drives the Scholars to pursue a future in art and design, one thing was common and clear: they are excited and grateful. To their families who made sacrifices to bring them to Ringling College. To the faculty for pushing their work to its limits. And to the Board of Trustees for the honor of receiving their top award, the Trustee Scholarship.

With this scholarship, $5000 toward their tuitions, they can continue to realize their creative dreams of making a difference in the world, connecting with others, and giving a voice to those without one.

When asked what the concept means to him, Dr. Larry R. Thompson, President of Ringling College, responded, “First, it means moving forward into the future at a rapid velocity to reach a goal or vision. For Ringling College, it means moving forward at a rapid rate and trajectory to realizing our vision of being THE preeminent art and design College in the world.”

But he also believes the concept is significant on a macro level. “Because our world is moving so quickly in so many directions, we need to make sure we move forward in a way that is all encompassing,” he explains. “FULLSTEAM is not just about STEM –science, technology, engineering, or math. It includes the A for ART – the visual arts (the true source for creativity and ingenuity) and the liberal arts – the source for societal context.”

And indeed this event celebrates the significant role of the creative thinker. Film Trustee Scholar Devon Collins reminded the room that “we are surrounded by stories.” It is up to these creatives—the thinkers, the questioners, the makers, and the doers to tell those stories and to bring them to life. And this cohort intends to do just that.


The 2017 Ringling College Trustee Scholars are coming at you, FULLSTEAM.


By Stephanie Lederer | Photography by Matthew Holler (Photography & Imaging, ’11)
Stephanie Lederer is the Editor of CONTXT magazine and the Editorial & Public Relations Manager for Ringling College.