Entry installation at Design Show 2016

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Why Scholarship Support Matters

Submitted on September 29, 2022 - 5:16pm

Each October, the School awards over $210,000 in scholarships to new and returning students studying Art, Art History, and Design.

Two recent scholarship recipients share stories about their journey at the UW, what their scholarships mean to them, and what they are looking forward to when returning to campus this autumn.

Zoë Tsai

  • BA with Honors in Art (Painting + Drawing) and Comparative History of Ideas, 2024
  • Recipient of a Dani Elenga Scholarship

Zoë's Story

When Seattle local Zoë Tsai was debating which college to attend in the midst of the pandemic, she chose the one in her backyard. “I’m thankful to be able to attend such a wonderful school so close to my family and support system,” she says about UW. Zoë’s plans to major in STEM, though, took an unexpected but fortunate turn. “I always loved STEM classes in high school and actually wanted to major in Chemistry, but when I met with my advisor she noticed my love for art and signed me up for ART 190 (Intro to Drawing) and ART 101 (Visual Art and Creative Thinking). I haven’t looked back since.”

Zoë is now a junior in the Honors in Art BA program with a focus in Painting + Drawing. Her current work uses the human figure to explore themes of haunting, indigeneity, and family. During an individual project this summer, Zoë’s paintings explored mother / daughter relationships. She is also pursuing a double major in Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), and that area of study helps inform the visual work she completes in the studio.

Receiving the Dani Elenga Scholarship has givenZoë important financial and academic support. Art materials including oil painting supplies are expensive, and costs add up quickly. “Receiving the Dani Elenga Scholarship ensures that I can focus on my classes without trying to juggle work around my course schedule,” she says. “I’m so honored to receive this scholarship, and it pushes me to work harder and improve.”

For students who are thinking about applying for scholarships, Zoë’s advice is straightforward: “Just do it! Application burnout is real, but scholarships are so helpful and take so much stress off you in the long run. Advisors are really helpful in pointing you in the right direction for scholarships that may apply to you, and there are great resources on the UW website. Just be honest about what you need — help is out there!”

Zoë’s interests extend beyond visual art and comparative history. She plays goalie for the UW club women’s lacrosse team, sings in a vocal jazz group on campus, and illustrates for the UW student newspaper, The Daily. She loves to make funky jewelry and go longboarding with her friends.

Zoë is excited to start autumn quarter with a full schedule, and she looks forward to learning from both her peers and professors. For students looking for interesting electives, she highly recommends taking classes from the CHID department. After graduation, Zoë plans to work in an arts-related field, build up her portfolio, and apply to a Master of Fine Arts program.

About the Dani Elenga Scholarship

The Dani Elenga Scholarship was established in memory of Dani Gail Elenga, daughter of Sigrid E. Elenga and Lester Elenga and close friend of Carl Stephen Smyth. Dani Gail Elenga was born November 27, 1961, in Denver, CO. She died on July 19, 2009, in a tragic automobile accident. Art was important and meaningful for Dani, and it is the hope of her family and friends that this scholarship will extend Dani's deep love of art and painting, and facilitate the study of art to aspiring students. Just before her sudden end, Dani had reached a place in her life where she could finally realize her artistic vision. For Dani, art, especially painting, had become her passion.

Finn Johnson

  • BDes, Industrial Design, 2023
  • Recipient of a David B. and Jody Evans Smith / George and Alice McCain Scholarship in Industrial Design

Finn's Story

Finn Johnson grew up in Seattle and has always felt a strong attachment to the Pacific Northwest. When he was admitted to UW as a freshman, he knew he was interested in either design or architecture. After taking DESIGN 166 with Professor Karen Cheng, Finn narrowed his interests down to the Industrial Design major, which he says “occupies the goldilocks zone between the rational and the artistic.”

Finn is interested in the materials and processes involved in the production of an object, whether it’s a piece of furniture or a blood pressure monitor. “I think that traditional industrial design is fragmenting into so many different things,” says Finn. “Pick your tools, explore what interests you, and you can take aspects of industrial design and shape them into a toolkit that serves your unique perspective.”

This past summer, Finn interned at the Everett-based design company BUiLT, where he worked with outdoor brands such as Arc’teryx, K2, Salomon, and Rossignol. In September he attended the International Design Conference in Seattle, where he met designers from around the world and expanded his knowledge about the multiplicity of disciplines that defines industrial design.

The Smith/McCain scholarship is important to Finn for both the financial support and for the recognition from the Design faculty. It not only serves to help Finn’s family offset the cost of tuition, but it also validates all the late nights he spends in the studio. This scholarship, he says, “is a really motivating incentive to keep pushing harder throughout the next year.”

Finn’s advice to students who are seeking out scholarships is to “be passionate and speak with your own life experience and your unique voice. Always participate and try to say yes as much as possible.”

When he’s not in classes or working on design projects, Finn is exploring the city or the forest on his bike. He loves embarking on a new home-improvement project and designing modifications to his living space. Over summer, he learned how to play tennis which, he says, “has become a bit of an obsession.”

What’s Finn looking forward to this quarter? “Parnassus! I’m super ready for the cafe to re-open, plus I have a complete punch-card ready to be cashed in.” If you’re ever looking for Finn on campus, check Parnassus Cafe first.

About the David B. and Jody Evans Smith / George and Alice McCain Undergraduate Endowed Scholarship in Industrial Design

The Smith/McCain Scholarship was founded in 2017 through a generous donation by David B. and Jody Evans Smith and George and Alice McCain.

As alumni of the University of Washington’s Industrial Design program, David Smith (BFA 1970, MFA 1972) and George McCain (BFA 1969) seek to support the continued excellence in undergraduate design studies.

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