More than 230 high school students recently attended college-level courses on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus as part of Summer PreCollege. The rigorous, multi-week program helps participants build their portfolios and learn new concepts, techniques, and skills related to art, design, architecture, and creative writing. Students work under the guidance of world-class faculty alongside other young creatives who are equally eager to gain valuable experience on the way to higher education.
The Black Alumni of Pratt (BAP) provides full PreCollege scholarships annually for Black and Latinx students based in the New York City area, many of whom have gone on to attend Pratt or other art and design colleges. This year’s BAP PreCollege Summer Scholars were Javen Cummins, Bianca Dundas, and Mikayla Porter, who were selected based on the strength of their portfolios.
During the program, the BAP Scholars took courses, went on field trips to museums and galleries, and lived in Pratt residence halls along with other PreCollege students, getting a feel for the atmosphere of a college campus and developing useful life skills.
BAP Scholar Javen Cummins of Brooklyn appreciated meeting so many people from diverse backgrounds, especially because they helped her see the place where she grew up in a new light. In fact, 16 percent of this year’s cohort were international students and many others came from around the United States.
“It was really cool to experience learning with people from all over the world right here in my backyard,” she said. “I was able to hear how their lives are different and similar to my own. Also, my Sequential Arts teacher is British, so he could thoroughly tell us about the different ways countries do comics.”
Cummins took creative writing courses to help her with the storytelling aspect of her comics.
“Even though I write down the plots and scenes for the stories I create, I have never been confident in myself as a writer,” she said. “It is something I enjoy but did very minimally, so picking Creative Writing was a leap of faith in the hopes that I would learn the skills needed to clearly tell the stories in my mind.”
BAP Scholar Bianca Dundas of Brooklyn appreciated how PreCollege allowed her to go beyond digital screens to work with physical canvases.
“I chose Painting/Drawing as my first choice because I have never been able to paint traditionally before as it hasn’t been very accessible for me,” she said. “However, since I love digital painting, I wanted to try traditional painting to determine whether or not I’d like it. As I had to paint nearly every day, I was able to experience the meticulous process of painting, making careful decisions for every brushstroke and choice of color. I grew to love painting.”
Being surrounded by students from around the world who were also navigating a new environment enabled her to feel more comfortable in social settings.
“As an introverted person, meeting new people and advocating for myself tends to be difficult,” Dundas said. “However, being around new people every day and speaking to my professors helped me come out of my shell and feel more comfortable interacting with others without feeling drained or uncomfortable.”
BAP Scholar Mikayla Porter of Yonkers realized that spending time with people who share similar interests can spark creativity and strengthen resolve.
“I learned how much you can learn from your peers and how they can inspire you,” she said. “Since I don’t go to an art school but art is still required, many of the people in my classes are not very passionate about it. One of my favorite parts of PreCollege was walking around and seeing what other people were working on. I would always get inspired by others’ artworks and learn so much by just observing how they approached the projects at hand.”
Porter found the PreCollege experience rewarding and hopes to pay it forward.
“BAP awarded me the opportunity to not only develop my art skills at a college level, but also experience the intensity of art school,” she said. “Therefore, I would love to give back and offer my support in the future so students can get the same opportunity as me to grow their art skills and be challenged.”
PreCollege is where high school artists, designers and innovative thinkers develop their skills and creative voice, and create work for their college admission portfolio. Learn more about The Black Alumni of Pratt, the Pratt PreCollege program, and Pratt Undergraduate Admissions.