Story by By Eileen Sheiniuk, CASA LA
Naomi Adan was a fifteen year old girl, quietly earning a 3.7 grade aver-age at Magnolia Science Academy, a charter school in Reseda, when I first met her and her siblings in December 2008. Later that spring, I met Naomi’s teachers and remember her art history teacher saying, “If you could find a way to immerse Naomi in art this summer, that would be wonderful.” I began making phone calls and helped Naomi apply for a scholarship with references from her art history teacher and dean of students. We were all thrilled to learn that Naomi won a $2,700 scholarship for two weeks of art instruction at a residential camp.
“It was cool,” said Naomi, who had a chance to be surrounded by blue skies, clean air, and mountain greenery while painting and drawing for two weeks with other students. Naomi wrote her CASA, “Most of the students are from Los Angeles. There are students from Korea, Michigan, Darfur. It is really difficult here since we are treated as freshman from college. They told us two weeks was like a year of school.”
That summer experience reinforced Naomi’s desire to become an artist. She applied to colleges, was accept-ed at three, and chose CSU-Northridge, which would allow her to pursue an art major while remaining near her family.
The Dean of Students at Magnolia, Ms. Hourigan, remembers enjoying watching Naomi “chicken scratch” doodling when she was waiting or talking. She describes Naomi as creative, artistic and caring. Ms. Seward, the art history teacher, describes Naomi as talented, wise and ob-servant, and added, “I would have liked to have her in an art class every day.”
When Naomi made her decision to attend CSUN majoring in art, I want-ed to let the arts camp know just how life-changing Naomi’s 10th grade camp experience had been. I called the camp registrar to ask whether Naomi might return for the master class after high school graduation to prepare her college art portfolio. Just a few weeks later, I learned that Naomi was accepted for her second full scholarship. I could hardly wait to tell Naomi!
What did Naomi think of her second art scholarship? She said, “It was a great experience because you get to look at the big picture. The second year, I got more involved with other students in ceramics, music and jewelry. When I was drawing or painting outside, I heard the music and it really moved me. The instructors were wonderful. Now, I’m keeping in touch with the other kids from that master class.”
Naomi shared her art portfolio with her former dean and art history teacher when she returned to Magnolia Science Academy for an alumni activity a month ago. “Fantastic,” said Ms. Hourigan. “Excellent,” said Ms. Seward.
I agree with the dean and Naomi’s art history teacher and I hope that Naomi will recognize how her work ethic and her artistic talents can help cur-rent and future foster youth. Because Naomi performed so well at arts camp, she has opened doors for CASA-LA youth to attend this arts camp through a newly established CASA-LA project in 2012. Naomi has become CASA-LA’s pioneer artist!