On Aug. 29, freshmen Shania Gilbert and Zhaphar Weaver began their studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art. What set these two apart from the rest of the incoming freshman class? Gilbert and Zhaphar are local graduates from Cleveland high schools attending CIA on full-tuition, four-year scholarships. The second year of this relatively new scholarship program marks the first time it has been open to students through the NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology, which gives young people exposure to and experience with the applied arts and health-related industries through its after-school program.
"I wanted to do everything I could to enhance the diversity of the college," says CIA President and CEO Grafton Nunes. "But also to provide a bridge to empowerment for young people in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District who may not otherwise have the opportunity to fully develop their skills and ambitions in a private college like CIA."
Shania Gilbert discovered her love of ceramics after attending the after-school program at NewBridge as part of an art assignment at MC2 STEM High School. Winning the scholarship came as quite a surprise to Gilbert, who will concentrate on ceramics at CIA, but who also hopes to open an art therapy business after graduation.
"When I first found out about being awarded the full ride scholarship I literally was just in tears," Shania Gilbert joyously remembers. "I don't think anything could amount to that joy, but during my four years I plan to grow as an artist and be able to have my hands on almost every opportunity I'm given here. Once I graduate I plan on having my own art therapy business in which there will be multiple types of art open to the public."
One of 13 children, Zhaphar Weaver began his studies at the Cleveland School of the Arts as a musician, playing clarinet and upright bass, but it was outside the classroom at age 15 when Weaver discovered his true calling. He decided to pursue visual art because, as he says, "It allowed me to escape this violent world into one of creativity and peace." Soon after, he joined the visual arts department at CSA, and helped create murals at community recreational centers.
"This scholarship has given my 12 brothers and sisters something positive to strive for," Zhaphar Weaver says proudly. "Also, it shows them that there's more to life than drug activity and violence regardless of where we come from. My first couple of weeks have been challenging with deadlines and the amount of work given, but I plan to continue to work hard and finish strong. On my four-year journey here, I hope to continue to meet new and talented artists that could teach me as well as collaborate with."