Each year Alumni Scholarship Awards and Named Fund Awards are given to final year undergraduate and graduate students to aid the completion of their final thesis/portfolio projects. See below to learn more about the impact of the awards in the words of the recipients.
- BFA Animation
“Thanks to the Alumni Scholarship Award, thesis partner Dana Terrace (BFA 2013 Animation) and I were able to complete our fantasy/adventure animated short film that was getting out-of-hand financially. The award covered most of our post-production needs in sound, including hiring two marvelous composers and a wonderful sound designer. Hiring our talented professional sound team allowed me and Dana to focus on the visual aspects of the short film and helped us produce the film we were trying to create. The final project was warmly received by audiences, helping Dana land an animation internship at JibJab, and me a story trainee position at Blue Sky Studios.”
-Iker Maidagan, BFA 2013 Animation
To view Iker and Dana's short film visit its YouTube page.
- BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
Alumni Scholarship Award recipient Jesse Flores (BFA 2010 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) spoke on behalf of thesis partner Jessenia Nauta (BFA 2010 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) about the impact the award had on their thesis project, Luciernaga. He said, "Winning the award really took our animation film to another level. We already were working with a fantastic composer who was helping us out, even though we did not have much funding. Getting the award allowed us to rent studio time, hire a sound engineer and a small orchestra dedicated to performing the score for our film. It was an incredible experience to see our passion for this film lead to more than just another school project. As news about the production level of our film spread, a lot of faculty took notice. Because of that, Jessenia and I landed freelance gigs with the production house Framestore NYC while we were still in school, and shortly after graduating, we both got staff positions there as visual effects artists."
To learn more about Jesse and Jessenia's project visit their website.
“Early in our time as students at SVA, my thesis partner Victoria Penzes (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and I set a goal to win an Alumni Scholarship Award. Winning the award and being recognized for our hard work and dedication meant a lot to us. Film production has many tasks that need to be accomplished in less than a year, and many specialized skills that require a knowledgeable crew. We used our scholarship money to hire a composer and a sound designer, and pay for promotional materials. Reaching our goal reduced our stress and motivated us to work harder and stay focused knowing that many people soon would watch our completed film.”
-Donia Liechti, BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
To learn more about Donia and her work visit her Vimeo page.
Alumni Scholarship Award recipient John Sung (BFA 2012 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) used his award to put the finishing touches on his animated short thesis film Spacebunnies! John spoke about how receiving the award impacted his project. He said, “How to score the film was always a concern for me from the beginning. I wanted the music to be an important narrative element, and I've always imagined a small band creating the music but had no real way of funding it. Winning the award has helped that dream become a reality. With the funds from the award, I was able to wrangle together the finest group of musicians and a talented composer. Needless to say, the award was incredibly important in bringing the film to the next level."
To learn more about John and his work visit his website. To view Spacebunnies! visit the Computer Art Department website.
- BFA Film and Video
“Filmmaking is an expensive process. Winning the William C. Arkell Memorial Award helped me realize the film I wanted to make without compromising my vision. I was able to lure in great talent, fund production and postproduction, and keep the film on the scale that I imagined. Most importantly, it gave me the confidence that people backed the film and connected with my idea.”
-Shubhashish Bhutiani, BFA 2013 Film and Video
To learn more about Shubhashish and the film Kush visit his website.
Jae Yeob Chung (BFA 2013 Film and Video) used his Alumni Scholarship Award to enhance the locations and production quality of his thesis film, The Melody. He recalls, “I boast about the award to my family and friends. My thesis was a challenge for me but the award gave me greater confidence in my abilities as a filmmaker, strengthened my conviction, and helped me grow as a person. The funding helped me rent quality camera equipment and choose better locations. I don’t think my project would have been possible without it. I am honored to have received the award and appreciate The Alumni Society for selecting my project.”
To learn more about Jae Yeob and his work visit his Vimeo page.
“Winning the William C. Arkell award truly took my thesis film Pedestrian off the ground. Far beyond financing and processing the film, the award also encouraged an incredibly talented cast and crew to come on board; and it gave me the confidence I needed to lead them. We are currently in the finishing stages of post-production and plan to submit Pedestrian to Sundance."
-Claire Ensslin, BFA 2012 Film and Video
To learn more about Claire and her work visit her website.
“Winning an Alumni Scholarship Award brings encouragement to students who strive to do the best in their work. The award brought me pure joy knowing that my school and donors believed in the dreams I had for my thesis film, Treasured Adventures. I was able to fund my entire movie, which financially helped me out. Right after completing the project, I went out to L.A for a week to intern. The award has motivated me to always try my best and present my films to the best to my ability. I am currently working in film and television for numerous feature film and corporate companies.”
-Brittany Neff, BFA 2012 Film and Video
To learn more about Brittany’s work visit her Vimeo page.
William C. Arkell Memorial Scholarship recipient Katharina Rohrer (BFA 2004 Film and Video) used her award to put the finishing touches on her thesis film, The Search, without having to make compromises due to finances. Kat said, “Receiving the Arkell Award allowed me to handle my film like a professional and make contacts with industry professionals in the process. Applying for the award also taught me how to approach fundraising, a crucial skill in today’s film world and something every director needs to know. It made my start in this often difficult business just a little easier.” Today, Kat continues to make films, counting among her accomplishments the founding of her production company GreenKat Productions and the documentary feature film Fatal Promises.
To learn more about Kat's work visit her website.
“While working hard on a tight budget to complete my thesis film, 49Minutes, my crew members gathered in a studio and exclaimed in delight upon hearing that the project had won an Alumni Scholarship Award. From that moment on, I could provide them with better food, as well as use the award money for better post-production. Above all, it made my crew members even more enthusiastic for the production. They’re still proud that they participated in the project, and I’m proud of them.”
-Sangchul Shin, BFA 2012 Film & Video
To see a trailer of Sangchul’s thesis film visit his Vimeo page.
- BFA Graphic Design
“I received an Alumni Scholarship Award to aid my thesis project, Do You Know an Immigrant?, a case study about the stories of immigrants that inspired me during my time at SVA. The award money was used for the production of a short documentary film and the printing of a supplementary book. I never would have been able to get the professionals to work with me on the project that I did if it were not for the stipend from The Alumni Society. It pushed me to be more proactive with my thesis when there wasn't anyone or anything else telling me to keep going. Knowing that The Alumni Society puts itself out there to help SVA students served as a large inspiration for me to complete the project. Currently, I am working at HarperCollins Publishers as a designer, creating packing and jackets. I plan to pursue further work in film on the side, and to continue giving back by centering my personal work on social advocacy issues.”
-Nina LoSchiavo, BFA 2012 Graphic Design
To learn more about Nina and her work visit her portfolio and Vimeo page.
- BFA Illustration
"I like to think that winning the Jack Endewelt Memorial Award was a way to inform me that I was doing something right, and that someone other than my instructors was noticing that. The award allowed me to create the projects I wanted to create for my thesis with less limitation by cost. It pushed me to create some of the largest paintings I've ever made, and I learned a lot from spending so much time on them in my last semester at SVA."
-Jonny Ruzzo, BFA 2012 Illustration
To learn more about Jonny and his work visit his website.
- BFA Interior Design
Alumni Scholarship Award recipient Mohamed Amer (BFA 2009 Interior Design) used his award to assist with the conceptual redesign of San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2 as the home of Virgin America airline. After posting one of his renderings on their Facebook page, Virgin America contacted Amer. He recalls, “I still remember finishing my scholarship application at the last minute and just making the deadline. I had no idea it was going to change my life. The award helped turn my thesis into a real client presentation and allowed me to discover my role as a designer, artist and SVA alumnus.” Today Amer works as a full-time designer at TPG Architecture in New York, where he has completed several national airport projects.
To see more of Mohamed's work visit his website.
- BFA Photography
“Winning an Alumni Scholarship Award was a great feeling. It was a sign that people understood and enjoyed my work enough to back it financially, which left me with a sense of validation of the project and me as an artist. The award helped me finally realize a finished piece according to my vision without budget constraints. I used the award to finance printing and mounting of my work for the Affordable Art Fair and other shows. The quality I achieved has enabled me to sell more pieces and self-finance my current projects.”
-Mitch Paster, BFA 2013 Photography
To learn more about Mitch and his work visit his website.
- BFA Visual and Critical Studies
"Winning an Alumni Scholarship Award was pivotal. I used the money to create the best body of work possible; I would have been hindered incredibly had it not been for the support of The Alumni Society. They provided funding for me to complete two ambitious projects: my thesis The Theocratic Republic of Gaia, and most importantly for me to have an open studio to show this work. Some of the photographic work I presented required high production costs including travel, costumes, make up and props. Additional support from the award allowed me to work in a range of mediums — fiber and ceramic sculpture, animation, painting, and photography — all for the creation of one cohesive environment. Apart from the production costs, the award allowed me to display the works the way I wanted. My open studio was a wealth of ambitious multidisciplinary work thanks to the Alumni Scholarship Award.”
-Elektra KB, BFA 2012 Visual and Critical Studies
To learn more about Elektra and her work visit her website.
- MFA Computer Art
“The Alumni Scholarship Award really allowed me to accomplish an ambitious project that otherwise would have been out of my reach. Installation projects like my thesis Resolution are expensive, and oftentimes budgets play a crucial role in the final outcome. The scholarship award allowed me to experiment, which was important in helping me figure out what worked and what didn't. Also, knowing that industry leaders and alumni believed in me and my project motivated me to accomplish something greater.”
-Stephanie Andreou, MFA 2012 Computer Art
To learn more about Stephanie and her work visit her website.
Alumni Scholarship Award recipient Dustin Grella (MFA 2009 Computer Art) spoke about the impact the award had on his animated thesis project Prayers for Peace. He said, “Honestly, this might sound strange, but I used the scholarship award to eat. It might not seem like a big deal now, but at the time [eating] was a huge deal. Sure, I spent the actual award money on a light bulb for a projector and some pastels to do my animation, but one night in particular I was working really hard; I was focused, getting a lot done, and didn’t want to stop and eat. I realized that I had a few extra dollars in my pocket and could go out to get a quick meal, and not have to go all the way home and back again. So I ate takeout in the studio and watched my animation looping on the board. Not only did winning the scholarship award allow me to eat, but more importantly, it allowed me to take a break and view my project as a spectator which helped me realize I could create two pieces out of the one I was working on.”
To see more of Dustin's work visit his website.
“Winning an Alumni Scholarship Award really meant a lot to me. As an international student coming from a non-artistic background, receiving the award encouraged me. Living in New York City is not easy for an international student. But the scholarship allowed me to concentrate on my project without having to worry about additional expenses. I was able to spend all of my time and energy in the studio, drawing frame by frame, all day. I appreciate the opportunity, as it helped me finish the project I always wanted to do”
–Min Liu, MFA 2013 Computer Art
To learn more about Min Liu and her work visit her Vimeo page or blog.
“When I received the Alumni Scholarship Award in support of my thesis project, The Compositor, I was ecstatic. There is nothing like being granted funds to help you and your personal idea. It helped fuel my confidence in and admiration for what I was working on. The award saved my butt! I tackled a hefty project with a lot of expenses. My school loans and Kickstarter funding were just not enough. What I received from The Alumni Society was just enough to finish my film. It allowed me to pay a fair price to the cast and crew. Everybody was fed more than enough food. I thank you for that! The award gave me the financial confidence to treat my project with care.”
-John Mattiuzzi, MFA 2012 Computer Art
To learn more about John and his film visit his website.
“Receiving an Alumni Scholarship Award changed my outlook on my thesis, Exaptation, granting me a huge amount of freedom to finish the project according to my vision. In addition to taking a gung-ho approach to finishing my project, I used 3D printers and purchased the exact electrical components that suited my project needs. The award gave me a great sense of validation when I was struggling with technical difficulties that come with advanced projects like mine. Because of the success of my project, I plan on continuing to advance the concept and experiment with bio-information-visualization art.
–David Rhoderick, MFA 2013 Computer Art
To learn more about David and his work visit his website.
“At the time I received the Alumni Scholarship Award, I was facing the difficult task of cutting the size of my thesis project, Drifting in Light, due to money problems. Winning the award meant more than financial support. It also gave me motivation and focus to complete my immersive installation. I became more confident in my concept and worked even harder knowing that people loved my project.”
-Zyia Zhongyuan Zhang, MFA 2013 Computer Art
To learn more about Zyia Zhongyuan Zhang’s installation visit her website.
- MFA Design
“I am so appreciative of winning an Alumni Scholarship Award. It helped me develop my thesis project, Jointly, a decentralized mobile app that helps communities self-organize disaster relief efforts. I have released a promo video and was accepted to the NEA Studio incubator program to continue moving forward with the project.”
-Samia Kallidis, MFA 2013 Design
To learn more about Samia Kallidis’s project visit her website.
“I felt incredibly honored to win an Alumni Scholarship Award this year. I was thrilled to be able to use the award towards developing my thesis project, GreyMatters, a tablet application that aims to improve quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers. In particular, I used the award money to create a promotional video that explains how the app works and communicates my overall message. The video became a crucial part of the project and continues to generate awareness about the app. I am currently working to develop GreyMatters, and hope to release it as soon as possible.”
-Jennifer Rozbruch, MFA 2013 Design
To learn more about Jennifer visit her website. To learn more about GreyMatters visit the project website.
- MFA Fine Art
“I arrived at SVA already working on an ambitious thesis project called Asymptotes, a fifty minute long video installation using three channel sync sound that required expensive equipment and an experienced crew. All the way through the second year of the process of shooting, editing and exhibiting the show, people told me that the project could never work without funding and that I was crazy to take it on as my thesis. I applied for an Alumni Scholarship Award to pay for a specialized piece of equipment and technician that I needed to make my piece work. As the recipient of the Edward Zutrau Memorial Award, The Alumni Society rewarded me for my commitment to my installation, which I was able to exhibit exactly as I imagined it. Records of the installation at the Visual Arts Gallery allowed me to show curators the videos in space and helped me earn my first solo show in my home country of Brazil, where I will use the same equipment that I purchased with the award.”
-Anna Paula Costa e Silva, MFA 2013 Fine Arts
To learn more about Anna Paula and her work visit her website.
- MFA Illustration as Visual Essay
"The Alumni Scholarship Award played a crucial role in finalizing the presentation for my thesis in the Illustration as Visual Essay graduate program. The project helped me become more confident in my writing, and become a better image maker. The scholarship funding helped me make a splash right from the start as I prepared for the exhibit and produced promotional materials for the thesis.”
-Daniel Fishel, MFA 2011 Illustration as Visual Essay
To see more of Daniel's work visit his website.
“The SVA Alumni Scholarship Award allowed me to buy all of the art supplies I needed to produce my master’s thesis, which consisted of three different media: silkscreen prints, Sculpey, and a comic book. I was aiming to share more of this work with people who have been affected by breast cancer, which was the subject of my thesis. Aside from the support to buy more materials, the scholarship connected me to the larger SVA community including past students, who were supportive of me and the work. That felt great. Thank you SVA!”
-Nina Frenkel, MFA 2012 Illustration as Visual Essay
To learn more about Nina and her work visit her website.
“All I ever wanted was to connect with an audience through my passion for storytelling, something that my family and friends have always supported. My thesis is a graphic novel comprised of ten short stories, and thanks to the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Award, I was able to realize the project that I imagined in its intended length. I printed a first edition of fifty, books and later collaborated with an industrial designer to create an interactive toy theater for the story. The entire first edition sold out at MOCCA Fest leading me to print a second edition. I never would have taken the risk of publishing a first edition and designing the interactive theater without the financial support and vote of confidence from The Alumni Society.”
-Keren Katz, MFA 2013 Illustration as Visual Essay
To learn more about Karen Katz’s work visit her website.
- MFA Interaction Design
"It was an honor as well as a relief to receive an Alumni Scholarship Award. It is one thing to dream up something on paper, but another thing to make sure it comes to life. Thanks to the award, I was able to take all my final projects to the next level. I wanted to fully realize my work and make an impact in the real world. Unexpectedly, in my last semester I was asked to give four interactive talks at TEDxNewHaven and had to create 200 kits with physical examples of each project. Their budget was tight, but I wanted to do it ‘right’ and give the TEDx audience the best experience possible. In addition to helping me purchase materials for my projects such as thermochromic fabric for an interactive hug vest, the award combined with assistance from the Interaction Design department allowed me to make all 200 kits.”
-Catherine Young, MFA 2012 Interaction Design
To learn more about Catherine and her work visit her blog and portfolio.
- MFA Photography, Video and Related Media
“Winning an Alumni Scholarship Award was a boon for my pocketbook and self-esteem. The funding was crucial to the completion of my thesis project, Slyvania, a photographic exploration of forests that required extensive travel across the United States, from Oregon to Louisiana. The award gave me the means to take several extended trips into the woods that greatly expanded my body of work, and made me feel my thesis was complete. Furthermore, the recognition and support of the The Alumni Society affirmed me in a sense of the importance of my thesis. Winning pushed me to work even harder in order to see my project through to its best possible end. One of the most satisfying parts of winning the award was meeting the other recipients. Learning about their wonderful projects, I feel even more honored to be part of the SVA community and I am motivated to become an active alumnus in the years to come.”
-Anna Beeke, MFA 2013 Photography, Video and Related Media
To learn more about Anna and her work visit her website.
Thomas Reiss Memorial Award recipient Roger Generazzo (MFA 2012 Photography, Video and Related Media) used his award to assist with the completion of his thesis project, The Waterways of New York, an extensive photographic survey of the major and minor waterways and adjacent landscapes of New York City. Roger spoke about the impact the award had on his project. He said, “Winning the Reiss Award not only encouraged me to continue the project but also allowed me to gas up my car and continue photographing these areas so that others can see what I see: the history and beauty of New York City embedded in its landscapes despite what’s occurred there.”
To learn more about Roger and his work visit his website.
Alumni Scholarship Award recipient Heidi Zito (MFA 2012 Photography, Video and Related Media) used her award to buy equipment and materials for both her thesis exhibition and solo show exhibition at HERE. She says, “My goal was to push myself forward as a student and an artist. Receiving the award really lifted my spirits during a time when I was struggling with my work. I knew that The Alumni Society was selective of the students they awarded, and I was happy to know that my thesis proposal had sparked interest in the committee. It gave me confidence and funding for my goals. I am not sure how I would have been able to complete the installation of my solo show. It was my first solo show and happened around the time of my MFA thesis exhibition at SVA. I was incredibly overwhelmed, not only by the costs to fund the project, but also the time needed. Receiving the scholarship allowed me to focus more on my projects that I came to New York to do, with reduced worries about budgets and money.” Currently Heidi is balancing her time painting and making videos, while working as a graphic designer and photographer in Chelsea. She also is preparing for her next solo exhibition.
To learn more about Heidi and her work visit her website.
- MFA Social Documentary Film
Olga Klyachina (MFA 2013 Social Documentary Film) used her award to finance pre-production and storyboarding assistance on her documentary film, When People Die They Sing Songs. She says, “The Alumni Scholarship Award was the first monetary award I received for a documentary film project. I used the financial support to work with a story consultant, who is helping me develop my thesis project into a feature film for future release. Also, the award helped me believe in myself as a professional artist and filmmaker.”
To learn more about Olga and her work visit her Vimeo page.