2020-21 Trustee Scholar Awards
By Chelsea Garner-Ferris / Portraits by Matthew Holler ’11
move or cause to move from one place to another
a slight change in position, direction, or tendency
The distinction of Trustee Scholar is the highest honor awarded to students at Ringling College of Art and Design. Each year, two students from the junior class in each program and the Office of Student Life are nominated by their respective department heads for consideration for this designation. Each nominee submits a written statement and portfolio of work to the Board of Trustees Trustee Scholar Selection Committee for review. After lengthy, and often impassioned, discussion, the Committee selects the Trustee Scholar in each program and recommends them to the Board of Trustees.
Scholars are nominated and selected based on the following criteria.
- Exceptional creative talent, communication skills, and distinction of mind;
- Contributions to the department, College, and/or community; and
- Leadership, citizenship, and mentorship.
The Class of 2021 has had to shift from its first year on campus when Hurricane Irma necessitated the closing of campus just a few weeks into the fall 2017 semester. Two years later, this resilient class found itself shifting again as it dealt with the impacts of a global pandemic that changed nearly everything about its collegiate experience.
On January 28, 2021, Ringling College honored the adaptable and determined group of artists and designers that comprise the 2020-21 Trustee Scholars with a hybrid event. Trustee Scholars and nominees were able to gather in-person with the appropriate safety protocols in the College’s large Soundstage A to celebrate their achievement. Meanwhile, families, loved ones, and College Trustees and supporters enjoyed the event virtually via live streaming. Board of Trustees Vice Chair Michael Klein opened the program, President Larry R. Thompson expressed his congratulations, and then each Trustee Scholar shared remarks about their journeys as artists and designers. While the event format had to shift, just like the class of students it honored, it remained a true celebration of the excellence these students embody.
The 2020-21 Trustee Scholars are:
Ellie Winslow, Business of Art + Design
Kristen Yuan, Computer Animation
Zora Squish Pruitt, Creative Writing
Erika Jessen, Film
Alé Salamán, Fine Arts
Zhengyu Ye, Game Art
Beatriz Patarata, Graphic Design
Petar Pirizovic, Graphic Design
Brooke Brogan, Illustration
Stefanie Voinea; Interior Design
Joseph Woods, Motion Design
Gabrielle Scianna, Photography + Imaging
Leila DeMarchi, Visual Studies
Arianna McAniff, Student Life
Each Scholar has a distinct and individual interpretation of what it means to “shift.”
Zhengyu Ye sees it as a positive: “The world is changing rapidly and change creates opportunities. Being able to shift is the key to seizing those opportunities.”
“Adaptation to the world,” according to Brooke Brogan, “will keep one’s head above water as well as one’s hand clasped with another.”
In his address, Joseph Woods, a non-traditional student who seized his college opportunity later in life, said that simply being at Ringling for him was like, “shifting out of reality and into a dream.”
Ellie Winslow confirmed, “Whether we admit it or not, the only constant in our life is change, and it’s about time we embrace that. We don’t give up… we just shift.”
And so they have. These students are strong. They are resilient and determined. They are shifters – adaptable, flexible, able to think on their feet to meet any challenge. The world as we know it is not fixed, but in a constant state of transformation. These remarkable students have proven time and again that they can shift to achieve their goals. They are ready to take on the future – no matter what obstacles or changes they encounter along the way.