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Alumni events fund art student’s scholarship to Pilchuck Glass School

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Illinois State University has many generous donors wanting to see students learn, grow and succeed during their time on campus. One student will get to do just that thanks to the gifts received during three special events hosted by Alumni Relations this spring.

Alumni Relations seeks unique opportunities where alumni can experience areas of campus they may otherwise have never known existed. Past events included molding mugs in the Illinois State Ceramics Studio and cooking a gourmet meal in the Foods Science Lab. This time alumni had the chance to visit a hidden gem on campus, the Illinois State Vitro Center, also known as the Glass House, to sculpt a one-of-a kind glass paperweight. By doing so, alumni attending also made a gift to this year’s Pilchuck School Partnership Scholarship.

The three-night event that hosted 90 alumni and friends raised $1,800 to send one student to the Pilchuck Glass School this summer. The event was a “huge success” according to Alumni Relations Director Jamie Sennett ’99. “It brought exposure to the Glass House, raised money for this wonderful scholarship, and brought students and alumni together to share in talent and memories,” she said. “Over half of our 90 participants didn’t know we had this on campus or that we offered curriculum in glass making. It was well-received by all in attendance.”

Pilchuck School Partnership Scholarship recipient Tyler Wolf was one of the student instructors during the event. He was blown away by the support of the participants. “I had no idea {that I received the scholarship} until that night when someone asked if I was the scholarship recipient,” the senior art major said. “I went up to John {Miller}, our glass professor, to ask if it was true.” Wolf felt overjoyed after learning that he will be sent to the school and the feeling continued throughout the events as he was able to meet alumni, learn about their careers, and give them an experience they could hold onto after the event ended.

“These sort of alumni events give students the ability to talk about changes on campus, share talents, and make connections with alumni that have been in the shoes of a student,” Wolf added when sharing his experience as an instructor at the event. “I met one alumni that is a librarian now but started as an artist. She said to me that everyone has to do the ‘starving artist’ bit, but it is worth it in the end. She didn’t make it as an artist, but she wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Hearing that makes what I am doing worth it and brings comfort to my mind.”

Wolf become interested in glass making his junior year of high school. After holding an internship at a Chicago glass studio, his high school instructor and Illinois State alumnus, Mike Da Ponte ’12, encouraged him to check out Illinois State. Wolf did just that and enrolled as an biology education major before switching to art with a focus on glass.

“Glass is fascinating,” Wolf said. “The ability to use light, see the progression, and understand transparency is very therapeutic.” Now Wolf will get to continue to develop his passion thanks to the gifts given to the Pilchuck School Partnership Scholarship at the alumni event. He couldn’t believe he would have the opportunity to study in the same place as artists like Jason Christian and network with people from all over the world who share a love of the material.

Wolf added that he was grateful for it all—the scholarship, the experience at the events, and the time spent with alumni. He also thanked Miller, associate professor for the School of Art; his peers; and the Alumni Relations staff for helping out at the glass making alumni events. “ISU is a pretty special university.”

Check out more pictures of the glass making alumni event or find out more about alumni events through Alumni Relations and how to attend. Also be sure to visit the College of Fine Arts website to see the schedule of events including School of Art showcases and glass sales.

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