Ringling College president Larry R. Thompson speaking onstage

I’ve had the privilege of participating in the Trustee Scholar Awards for the past four years. However, this year was unlike previous years, because in past years the event took place at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency Hotel; but this year, the ceremony came home. For the first time ever, the Trustee Scholar Awards took place on campus—at the Ringling College Studio Labs.

The Trustee Scholar Awards dinner is a night for faculty, staff, the Ringling College Board of Trustees, families, supporters, and students to gather to celebrate the best of the best students from every major, and from the Office of Student Life. Faculty from each major select two extraordinary students as candidates. Candidates then produce a pitch video that is reviewed by the Board Selection Committee. From there, one student is chosen from each department; however, in very rare cases, two candidates from a major are chosen because the committee just can’t decide. This year, for example, the Illustration major was represented by two Trustee Scholars, Dion MBD and Teju Abiola. The Scholars receive a $5,000 scholarship, the title of student ambassador, and the honor of representing their major at the Trustee Scholar Awards in November.

Advertising Design student Abril Rojas Montoya
Abril Rojas Montoya
Advertising Design
Business of 
 Art & Design student Eria Kozu
Eria Kozu
Business of Art & Design
Computer Animation student Imo Rolfe
Imo Rolfe
Computer Animation
Creative Writing  student Octavia C. Saenz
Octavia C. Saenz
Creative Writing
Film student Darrien Land
Darrien Land
student Brianna Faith Rivers
Brianna Faith Rivers
Fine Arts
student Harry Gray
Harry Gray
Game Art
Graphic Design student Leslie Adelaide Carol
Leslie Adelaide Carol
Graphic Design
 Illustration student Teju Abiola
Teju Abiola
 Illustration student Dion MBD
Dion MBD

student Gericel De Los Santos
Gericel De Los Santos
Interior Design
Motion Design student Paul Detling
Paul Detling
Motion Design

Photography & Imaging student Alva Christo Yoshe Wijaya
Alva Christo Yoshe Wijaya
Photography & Imaging
Student Kegan Jones, 
Student Life award recipient
Kegan Jones
Student Life

Although I have filmed various projects at the soundstage, I was mesmerized by the transformation of the space. Countless faculty members and student leaders worked together to transform Soundstage A and bring this year’s theme, Wavemakers, to life. 

Speaking to the theme, Ringling College prepares its students not just to ride the waves of creativity within their fields, but to make waves that transcend and connect industries. That’s what Wavemakers is about: what Ringling College and its students accomplish together that transcends our campus and region. This kind of collaboration can be seen in the development of the theme itself, which took a village. Wavemakers was conceived by members of the President’s Office, the Office for Advancement, Communication Strategies, and the Design Center. The Design Center worked with this year’s Trustee Scholar for Graphic Design, Leslie Carol, to produce the print materials for the event, while the Communications Strategies team created the motion graphics displayed at the dinner. Students from the ART Network got footage of the Trustee Scholars photoshoot, the faculty and staff who nominated the students, and the event itself. It was truly all hands on deck.

On the road to the Trustee Scholar Awards, I had the privilege of working behind the scenes with this year’s Scholars and the Communications Strategies team. Together, we produced a series of videos to help prospective students build their portfolios, including a video to showcase the evolution of a student’s portfolio from application to Ringling College through their senior year. The development of the Trustee Scholars’ work is a terrific representation of the progress a student can make through hard work, commitment, and a great education. 

On a personal note, I had the opportunity to document the evolution of a close friend’s portfolio. When I was a senior in Motion Design, I mentored one of this year’s Trustee Scholars, Abril Rojas. This is the last year that her major, Advertising Design, will be represented at the event, and Abril, or as faculty member Vivian Owen called her, “The Last Unicorn,” is the perfect candidate to demonstrate how Advertising Design evolved over the years to keep up with the ever-changing trends. As video has slowly become an integral method for advertising, the major had shifted to incorporate Video Production as well—something Abril was well versed in thanks to her involvement with the ART Network. 

A new major was represented at the event this year, Creative Writing. And in the coming years, we will see what the newest majors—Visual Studies, Virtual Reality Development, and Entertainment Design—will bring to the Trustee Scholar Awards and to the College’s ever-expanding goal to debunk the myth of the starving artist.

After working with this year’s Scholars, I have no doubt that the theme was truly reflective of their class. Wavemakers is a bold word that describes the desire to challenge the status quo and to create something unique, causing ripples that will be felt across the world. I, for one, am very excited to see how each of these Scholars will make their mark in their workplace and take the world by storm. 

By Andres Paz
Andres Paz is a 2016 Motion Design graduate from Ringling College who works with the Ringling College Communications Strategies team.