Noura Ibrahim. 'Purgatory,'' 2022, Acrylic on cardboard, 18 by 24 inches, 2022. (Photo courtesy MCC art gallery)

MCC art gallery offers scholarships to high school students

The Mesa Community College art gallery awarded 19 high school students across the valley with various scholarships to attend MCC.

MCC continued an annual art competition that awarded high school students across the valley money to help lower tuition costs.

The exhibit ran from June 23-August 4, and featured artists that range from ninth to twelfth grade.

Students had to maintain a 2.5 GPA, declare an art major, and enroll at MCC. According to instructional service coordinator and art gallery curator Grant Vetter, the money the winners earned will sit in a fund until the student enrolls at MCC.

Vetter said he is not sure when the scholarship started, but he knows the art competition has existed at MCC for a long time. The art gallery uses various news outlets and high schools to recruit students to enter the competition.

“We have a list from all of the high schools in Arizona, so we sent it out to all 600. We do it to let them know we are having the competition,” said Vetter.

According to Vetter, many schools have previous winners and the teachers are some of the biggest supporters from the competition. “It’s been going so long it is kind of an institution,” said Vetter. Vetter said he has no worry about the scholarship continuing, because the competition sells itself. 

He did not have an exact date as to when the scholarship initiative began, but shared that it was long before his start as the art curator last year.

Vetter said one of his biggest goals for the competition this year was to be able to offer more funding to the students that won the competition. This year, the total amount of funding that was given to students was around $11,000. 

Noura Ibrahim, from Hamilton High School, and Mia Uribe, from Dobson High School, were two students that received full-year scholarships. Both received an estimated amount of $2,080. 

Mia Uribe, Blue Face, colored pencil, 2020. (Photo courtesy MCC art gallery)

“One of the winners had to take their piece from the show and take it to California where they won an art show there too,” said Vetter. 

According to Vetter, the level of talent in this year’s competition was incredible. He noted portfolio reviews for the competition were very strong when compared to previous years.

 Winners were selected by a panel of judges.The judges for the competition were various staff members with the art department. The three judges were Malena Barnhart, Ryan Parra, and art history faculty Diem Lanakai.

“We always use staff because we feel like staff has a good idea who will get the most of coming here with these awards,” said Vetter. 

Vetter explained how the art competition helps high school students transition to their next educational phase. The recipients had a plan to attend college somewhere. This scholarship helped students choose a college because they can attend MCC at a reduced cost.

“MCC is the place to get credits out of the way and save money compared to starting at a major university,” said Vetter. “Many of the things we do around here is free including these awards that makes classes free,”

The students that won the competition got to keep their work once the gallery show was finished, according to Vetter. High school students that enter for the next art competition will likely be notified by their high school teachers, but can also contact Grant Vetter by email to inquire.

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