Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - 9:28 AM

Pratt Young Scholars Continue their Pratt Education in the Class of 2024

After developing their creative passions in the Pratt Young Scholars (PYS) program, several participants are now part of the incoming undergraduate class of 2024. Aizen Chen, Britney Gil Fernandez, Alex Orozco, and Asia Silverio have entered Pratt Institute and Sky Rattray has started at PrattMWP College of Art and Design, Pratt Institute’s extension center in Utica, New York.


From left to right: Asia Silverio, Aizen Chen, Alex Orozco, Sky Rattray, and Britney Gil Fernandez

After developing their creative passions in the Pratt Young Scholars (PYS) program, several participants are now part of the incoming undergraduate class of 2024. Aizen Chen, Britney Gil Fernandez, Alex Orozco, and Asia Silverio have entered Pratt Institute and Sky Rattray has started at PrattMWP College of Art and Design, Pratt Institute’s extension center in Utica, New York.

PYS is a three-year program offering scholarships to highly motivated New York City public high school students. Part of the youth programs in Pratt’s Center for Art, Design, and Community Engagement K-12, PYS was established in 2013 by a team of faculty members from across campus. Each participant is selected based on a demonstrated interest in art and design as well as their academic commitment. In college-level art and design coursework held after school and on Saturdays, they engage with an array of artistic disciplines including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, fashion and textile design, film, photography, and architecture.

“I learned a lot about the figure and how to properly portray it in drawing,” said Asia Silverio, who plans to study illustration and animation at Pratt. “I also learned that it’s not effective for me to compare my art to the art of others because my journey is my own and I should compare myself only with myself. Being in a classroom with other like-minded students has helped me gain more knowledge about how others perceive the material and how it relates to their own journeys. I was also very motivated by our professors who were very supportive and accommodating.”

Alex Orozco, who is looking forward to studying animation at Pratt, also hopes to expand on those personal connections and build on the artistic techniques gained as a PYS. “Through the Pratt Young Scholars program, I was able to make amazing friends who enjoy art as much as I do,” Orozco said. “Not only did I feel like I grew as an artist, but also my knowledge about college grew. It brings a lot of pride and joy to my family to be the first one to go to college.”

As art programs in schools, especially those in underserved neighborhoods where many of the PYS participants live, are underfunded, the program provides a valuable opportunity for advanced studio instruction in art and design. Through this experience, high school students can give serious attention to their art, meet others from a range of backgrounds who share their aspirations, and envision a career in a variety of creative fields.

“The experience gave me the opportunity to see how college art courses are in a top art college,” said Aizen Chen, who is interested in learning more about both art and the business side of creative industries. “The skills I gained from this program are huge. The students I met in this program are smart, kind, and unique in their own artistic styles. But the most important part of this program was not the art techniques I learned, but the college admissions counseling it provided.”

PYS offers preparation for standardized tests, support for creating portfolios and applications, and other college access resources. Many of the Scholars are the first generation in their families to have college ambitions and PYS offers one-on-one guidance for this process. The work that they create during the three years in the program is also essential for their application portfolios. As a testament to the rigorous nature of the program in preparing students for higher education, all 15 of the 2020 PYS graduates were accepted into Pratt, with other students going to the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Tufts University, University of Southern California, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Buffalo, and CUNY College of Staten Island. 

“Going to college as the second person in my family is an accomplishment for me and my family because I will get opportunities that they never had,” said Britney Gil Fernandez, who is studying art and design education at Pratt. “Going to college means that I will be able to accomplish many great things in life, as well as create connections with others.” 

Fernandez added that PYS was important as it introduced her to new perspectives through art. “Through this program, I was able to learn and gain knowledge that has become very helpful, not only for college but also in daily life,” Fernandez said. “I am looking forward to meeting new people even if my first semester is online. I want to create healthy, long-lasting relationships.”

Now as these PYS alumni begin their college education, they will continue to develop the skills they fostered as high school students, as they work toward a professional practice in the creative fields. As previous PYS alumni have gone on to contribute to the program through speaking at events and mentorship, there will also be opportunities for these students to continue to be involved as inspiring leaders for the next generations of PYS.