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Acquiring a RISD Accent

Acquiring a RISD Accent

Having earned her undergraduate degree at RISD, Project Open Door alumna Sara Pollard 13 IL/MAT 14 is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching and looking forward to becoming an art teacher.

Before getting buried in the demands of grad school, Sara Pollard 13 IL/MAT 14 kept an astute visual blog about life in Providence.

Rhode Island native Sara Pollard 13 IL/MAT 14 started dreaming about going to RISD when she was in first grade. With help from Barbara Voccola 86 GD/MAT 94, her art teacher at Cranston High School West, she lined up a scholarship to attend RISD’s Pre-College Program as a junior and then spent much of her senior year working on her portfolio through RISD’s Project Open Door (POD) program. “They took us to a portfolio review in Boston, where I was accepted on the spot by MICA [the Maryland Institute College of Art],” Pollard recalls. “RISD was still my first choice, but that took a lot of the pressure off.”

Once she got into RISD and completed her Foundation Studies year, Pollard chose to major in Illustration. She was also soon back at POD, but this time as a mentor to younger students through the Americorps Scholarships for Service program. “I already knew a lot of the kids from when I was in the POD program earlier,” she says. “But this time it was really satisfying to give them feedback and to answer their questions about Foundation year. I told them how important it is to put your well being first—to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy.”

The intense experience with POD—where she put in 300 hours of service during her first summer as a mentor—helped Pollard realize that she really wants to become a high school art teacher. “Being a teacher is a huge responsibility,” she says, “but I really look up to my own mentors and love the idea of passing what I’ve learned along to others.”

By the time Pollard decided to apply to graduate school, RISD had long been her home away from home (“my family says I’ve got a RISD accent,” she says with a laugh) and she only completed one application. “I figured that if I didn’t get in to RISD’s TLAD department, it wasn’t meant to be,” she says.

Now that she’s halfway through the one-year MAT program, Pollard finds the experience to be intense. “It’s incredibly hard,” she says. “I didn’t even have time to draw all fall, which is why I’m so excited about Wintersession.” She’s now doing an independent study with one of her own mentors, Illustration Senior Critic Fred Lynch 86 IL. “I took his summer class in Italy,” she says, “and learned so much about drawing there. For my independent study, I’m looking at the weekly news and turning the top stories into illustrated commentary.”

In the spring Pollard will continue to learn everything she can about becoming an educator while getting on-site training as a student teacher at Hope High School in Providence and Forest Park Elementary School in North Kingston, RI. She plans to take her certification exams right after graduating and then work as a freelance illustrator for a year before applying for teaching jobs. “I think I need that experience as a working artist before I’ll feel comfortable teaching art,” she says. “I want to give myself a fresh start and find a workable balance between being an artist and being an educator.”

Simone Solondz

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