Students in field

Two U.P. students win 2017 Brule Scholarship

September 5, 2017

$20,000 scholarship for art students earned by local students

Aspiring artists from around the Midwest gathered on Finlandia University’s campus last spring for the annual Brule Scholarship portfolio competition, and when it was all said and done two students from the Upper Peninsula stood out and earned the $20,000 scholarships.

“This year we were excited to have an incredible group of artists apply for the Brule Scholarship,” said Denise Vandeville, Dean of Finlandia’s International School of Art & Design. “It was a terribly difficult decision for our faculty to choose winners, and I am excited that a majority of those artists who competed have chosen to come to our school regardless of their placing in the competition. This year we’re proud to be welcoming an incredibly strong freshmen class.”

The scholarship winners are Jessica Gill of Escanaba and Chloe Haataja of Houghton. In addition to other funding and scholarships – including the U.P. Commitment Grant – each student was awarded $20,000 courtesy of David and Elsa Brule.

“I didn’t know what to do when I heard that I had won this award, it was such a bright and exciting moment for me,” said Gill, who is looking to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts after completing a two-year program at Bay College. “I called a few people right away to spread the news, and my family and friends were so excited for me.”

Gill will be specializing in Fiber and Fashion Design. “I was excited when I learned that it wasn’t just a fashion design program, that part of it is fiber design because I love working in that medium. I have a specific style that I like to showcase, which includes a lot of recycled materials, and this program will help me develop further as an artist.” That style is something that Vandeville thinks will fit in perfectly at Finlandia. “She has a unique skillset that will allow her to flourish in our fiber and fashion department.”

Haataja is a 2017 Houghton High School graduate that specializes in pen drawing and water color painting. She also has a strong interest in digital art to create propaganda and posters.

“At my kindergarten graduation I said I wanted to be an artist, and that has never changed,” Haataja said. “I love working with all sorts of mediums, and am anxious to dive into the computer labs to better develop my skills in graphics and web design.” Haataja’s style is what caught the eye of faculty at Finlandia. “Chloe is a very insightful image maker,” Vandeville said.

The scholarship truly opened the art school door for Haataja. “I feel so much better about going to school knowing that I have earned this scholarship.” Haataja has been able to spend a decent amount of time around Finlandia’s facilities and faculty while in high school, and she said she was immediately turned onto the university as an option for her by its small class sizes. “The smaller classes mean a lot to me.”

The process for Gill and Haataja started in December 2016 when the competition was announced. They worked with Admissions Officer Augustine Brutus on the process. For Brutus, the entire experience was noteworthy.

‘’It was exhilarating working with these bright young artists,” Brutus said. “They exhibited a level of maturity in their artwork that left the audience eager to learn more. They all gave the judges something to remember them by when it was time to deliberate. These young artists shined throughout the process, and will accomplish great things during their time at Finlandia.”

The cycle will begin for the next school year late this fall with another portfolio competition day scheduled for the spring. “I am looking forward to next year’s event to see what the next group of artists will bring to the table,” said Brutus. For more information on next year’s plans, please reach out to Brutus via e-mail at augustine.brutus@finlandia.edu.

Classes began at Finlandia University on Monday, August 28. Learn more about the Brule Scholarship and the Finlandia University International School of Art & Design by visiting finlandia.edu/art.

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