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SVA Art Therapy Alumnus Julia Volonts Receives A 2019-2020 Fulbright Award

Congratulations are in order to Julia Volonts (MPS 2017 Art Therapy). She is the College's first institutionally endorsed Fulbright Award recipient, receiving the prestigious grant to research art therapy practices in Latvia and working out of Rīga Stradiņš University from September 2019 to May 2020. Volonts will be focusing on response art, which is art making by therapists to process their clinical work, specifically examining how art therapists in Latvia can use response art to process trans-generational trauma impacting the cultural identity of the country. Current MFA Illustration as Visual Essay student Courtney Menard (BFA 2014 Illustration) and alumnus Nadya Voynovskaya (BFA 2017 Illustration) were named semi-finalists for their grants, a significant accomplishment as well.

"I'm looking forward to being able to integrate my passion and interest in the country with my professional work and developing something that doesn't exist there yet," says Volonts, whose father's family is Latvian. Volonts will also be traveling to Riga at the end of this month to lecture on response art at the Latvian Art Therapy Association annual conference.

The Fulbright Program, founded in 1946, is designed to improve intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy and intercultural competence between the people of the United States and other nations by offering research, study and teaching opportunities in over 160 countries. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study abroad for one academic year. These self-designed projects span a wide variety of fields, including studio art, design, curatorial practice, art history and other academic areas. It is a highly rigorous and competitive application process (applicants are recommended to spend one to two years on their materials, and the review itself process takes a year). Volonts worked closely with Career Development, particularly Anna Ogier-Bloomer, SVA's Fulbright program adviser at the time, from start to finish and noted that SVA's support was integral in developing her grant. "It is the most complicated application I have ever seen in the arts," says Ogier-Bloomer. "You really have to have a lot of forward thinking."

Students can apply as early as their final year of school (so as to attend the grant the following year) and alumni are eligible to apply through the College (meaning working with the Adviser, being reviewed by a faculty committee and receiving an official endorsement) up to three years after graduating. "The Fulbright is part of our portfolio of initiatives we offer to help students and alumni to finance their work or to have residencies and experiences in other countries that will help make their careers more fulfilling and help them to become better professionals," says Angie Wojak, director of career development. SVA had two endorsed semi-finalists in last year's grant cycle as well.

Students are encouraged to attend on-campus information sessions hosted by Career Development to learn more and to realize the value of participating in the application process even if they do not ultimately receive an award. As Patty Romeu, associate director of career development and Fulbright adviser, notes: "It's just so rigorous that getting through this process you're way ahead of the game for other things that you're applying for."

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