Design student takes home more than a degree

Laura Sullivan had a special reason to smile at the convocation of 350 fine arts students last Monday. In addition to graduating from the York University/Sheridan Institute Joint Program in Design with a bachelor of design degree, she picked up a prestigious Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) scholarship and a merit award from York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

At a celebration in her honour after convocation, Sullivan was presented with the RCA’s $5,000 C.D. Howe Scholarship for Excellence in Graphic Design. The event was co-hosted by Wendy Wong, Chair of York’s Department of Design, and Michael Large, associate dean of the School of Animation, Arts & Design at Sheridan.

Right: Award-winning design student Laura Sullivan is congratulated by RCA president Ron Shuebrook

“I am incredibly delighted,” said Sullivan. “As a student, I wasn’t sure how my work would be perceived in the outside world. To receive acknowledgment for excellence outside of the University is a big honour.”

The RCA/C.D. Howe Scholarships in Art and Design were initiated in 2002 with financial support from the C.D. Howe Foundation. The scholarships are offered annually to students graduating from Canadian university and college art and design programs.

RCA president Ron Shuebrook, on hand to congratulate Sullivan, said, “The primary objective of the scholarships is to encourage Canadian students to pursue graduate studies at an internationally recognized institution that will contribute towards their development as a professional practitioner.”

Sullivan will use her scholarship to further her education at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, England, where she will pursue a master’s degree in communication design. “Design is still a relatively young field of study,” explained Sullivan. “I want to explore its place in our world and participate in its development.”

Her second award of the day demonstrated that she has already begun to do so. Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Phillip Silver presented Sullivan with the Faculty of Fine Arts Merit Award for outstanding academic and professional achievement, and contributions to her program.

“Laura’s work revealed an innate understanding of the designer’s role and professionalism beyond her experience,” said design Professor Angela Norwood, one of Sullivan’s instructors. “Laura emerged as a leader and spokesperson, skilful at identifying tasks to be undertaken and organizing her peers to do so. Her classmates sought her input on their work and she offered it generously and constructively.”

 This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.