4th Quarter, 2006
Art Scholarship Winner
Ryan is pursuing a future in the publication and design field via an education at the Pratt Institute. It’s a rigorous curriculum that allows little time for other activities yet he still manages to volunteer some of his time to worthy causes such as tutoring with America Reads and taking part in leadership clubs on campus.
A Portion of Ryan’s Winning Essay:
I come from a city just north of the great Falls of Niagara. I had a life there, a family there and the beginning of a career there. I was a Junior Advertising Art Director in Toronto and I thought I had found my livelihood until one night when I met with one of the most famous ad men in the industry.
For a hefty sum, I attended “A Night with Neil French”. An entire theatre was chartered, and an anxious crowd waited for the curtain to rise. Mr. French sat on stage with two more top advertising professionals and went through anecdote after anecdote and answered question after question. Then at one point something sprung up in my mind just as I was springing up from my seat. I interrupted the whole procession to ask Mr. French just one question, “Mr. French,” I began, “with all this notoriety and fame and with all the respect and attention you command thanks to your talent, what message do you bear?” With barely a moment’s hesitation he answered me, “I have no message. I am just making money.” I was aghast. I left that place dumbfounded. From that night forward my path began to change.
The next morning at the studio was unlike the day prior. New thoughts and questions ran amok through my head. Was I using my talents to their fullest potential? What did I accomplish at the end of each day? After graduating from Seneca College with a Diploma in Creative Advertising (with honors) what was I really doing? Was I spending a lot of time and effort merely to appease account executives so they could sell one more chocolate bar? I had a lot to ponder.
Then my telephone rang and my musings were interrupted. I learned that my father was in the hospital. Sitting by the side of what I would later know to be my father’s deathbed I showed him my recent portfolio work. He was genuinely proud. Moreover he seemed content in my position in life. I was happy for a moment, too ,but deep down, I knew a long and arduous road lay ahead if I was to become the man he saw in me.
Father was claimed by a number of illnesses: Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, connective tissue disease and a blood clot from limited mobility due to the above conditions. But I like to believe that he left this world smiling. Not because his suffering came to an end but because of the profound effect his passing had on me. A fire burned in my eyes after the funeral proceedings ended. I was finally able to realize my true calling. The sky was the limit to my dreams.
One year later I left my world in search of my destiny and found myself in New York City. During my first week here I happened by a rather tall and impressive tower in the center of Times Square. The letters on the plaque read Conde Naste. This was the place where so many important publications originated! And I saw it: my future. And then I saw the security gate, and I realized that getting in there would be more than a little challenging. I needed the right education. I needed to evolve.
This is undoubtedly the place where I must root myself and grow. Everything I need is here for me. New York is a Mecca of art and design. I remember picking up a large art history book and finding that a substantial share of the world’s greatest treasures had a home along 5th Avenue. I think I visited all the museums here within the first week of arriving. I have never been so enamored.
But with that joy comes reality. It is no secret that this city is hard and expensive. In all honesty, I haven’t nearly enough funds to put myself through school. I even knew that before I moved here. I don’t think many people can actually afford to attend this institution unless they are exceedingly wealthy. But from what I can surmise from being here for only half a semester I can see that it’s worth it. This is what I always dreamed art school should be. Wonderful scenery, cutting edge facilities, ingenious professors and students, just like me, working as hard as they can to achieve perfection. I want to have more time to focus on my studies, however; the hard truth is that I need to consider many things in order to stay afloat and it often times interferes greatly with my art. Time and money are my biggest hurdles. Since I can not create time, my only option is to get more money.
That, too, poses a problem. Thanks to the recent immigration laws it’s become illegal for me to work off campus where I would be able to make better money in order to defray the cost of tuition and living. Moreover, finding on-campus employment is also a sordid affair because the rules seem to be set against each other. I am not allowed to work without a Social Security Number, but I am not allowed to receive a SSN without work. So what am I to do? All I have is my will to succeed and my talent.
Here at Pratt I learned to be resourceful and wise, but I still need any support I can get. I took a big risk by transplanting myself here, and I refuse to let my efforts go to waste just for want of funds.
But, please, do not see this as a plea. I only take money that I have earned. I always do my best to be a model student and human being. Everyday I spend here at Pratt is used to the fullest. In addition to my schooling I involve myself with many extra curricular activities. I am part of the varsity soccer team, I write and art direct for the school newspaper, I work closely with NYPIRG (a charity organization with the public’s interest in mind) as well as initiate my own humanitarian efforts, and I teach children to read in English or Hebrew with the America Reads Literacy program. In addition to all that I am the Community Involvement Officer of my pledge class within the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Prior to my arrival in America I volunteered as a reading tutor for Somali Refugees in Toronto as well as participated in a homeless outreach program at least once a month. I used to scour the streets of Toronto with offerings of warm clothes, food and drink as well as a sympathetic ear. It afforded me many new outlooks on the human condition, and it’s one of my most valued experiences in recent memory.
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