EPISD art students clutched their portfolios Tuesday, holding them close to their chests with both excitement and nerves as they waited to meet with the people who could make their educational dreams come true.
The nearly 100 seniors were part of an innovative college fair, the first-ever EPISD Visual Arts Program Recruitment Fair designed specifically for students seeking post-secondary training in the arts.
“Every year we take the kids to the National Portfolio Day, but since it’s out of town we can only take so many students,” Visual Arts Facilitator Rosa Aguilar said. “I thought why not bring the schools to El Paso and give more students the opportunity to show up and benefit from this experience. I am so excited because this is a chance for them to show how talented they are, to sell themselves and get opportunities from the recruiters.”
Students were able to talk to recruiters from schools such as the Paris College of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Laguna College of Art and Design and the Minneapolis College of Art.
Local and nearby art programs at UTEP, NMSU and the University of New Mexico also sent representatives.
“The schools were very receptive to the idea because El Paso is such a great city, and it’s very unique,” Aguilar said. “They are very interested in seeing what our kids have to offer.”
This is the first time Irvin senior Raven Jones has attended a recruiting fair.
She talked to people from Rocky Mountain College of Art Design and Sul Ross State University before waiting in line for the Paris school.
“It’s the most popular because it’s unique. It’s a chance to go overseas and learn about different cultures, which you can implement into your artwork,” she said. “I was nervous showing my work because they are like my babies, but it’s great seeing other people’s work.”
Austin senior John McBryde cradled a laptop in his arms, waiting for a chance to showcase his digital collage work.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity to expand our horizons and meet people from other places face-to-face,” McBryde said. “It’s a great way to give us students a feel for what school they’d like to attend.”
Irvin art teacher Karen Fortney made sure to coach the students before the event, giving them a confidence boost to show off not only their art but also their personalities.
“None of the students I brought today had ever had this opportunity so it was a little intimidating for them,” Fortney said. “I’m hoping they will have a chance to pursue their dreams and have a better idea what direction they need to go. I think they are going to be really inspired and excited after this.”
The Fine Arts Department hopes the recruiting fair will become an annual event.
“This is first year that we do it so I am really excited because this is something we can do every year,” Aguilar said. “This has the potential to get bigger and create more opportunities for our students.”