Faculty nurture artists and learners

By Trent Zbichorski

At one time, MSUM alumnae Stephanie Seguin, Kaylyn Gerenz and Jescia Hopper entered Roland Dille Center for the Arts for the first time to begin their art journey. MSUM not only nurtured each of them to excel artistically, but also prepared them for rigorous graduate-level work. Each artist has received fellowships for highly reputable graduate art programs across the country. 

Seguin received a teaching assistantship and a living stipend at Pennsylvania State University, where she is enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Ceramics. After receiving her B.F.A. degree from MSUM, she was surprised at how much she learned from her professors compared to other students who attended different universities.

“The faculty is what really sets MSUM apart from other programs. The time, attention, dedication and commitment to the success of the students from the faculty is unique,” Seguin said. “I received a better than average understanding of artistic practices, studio maintenance, material knowledge, teaching and leadership opportunities and professional development that is still applicable to me today.”

One of Seguin’s former professors says it’s crucial to have strong relationships with students.

“The schools are very competitive and it is important that you help the students find the school that will be a good fit based on their personalities so they can be successful,” said Professor of Art Kelli Sinner. “I get really excited when I see students new work because I can see how fast they are growing and learning.”

Gerenz is enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a studio project assistantship position in sculpture. Her MSUM education made it possible for her to progress as an artist, while also allowing her to expand her knowledge.

“Every professor can provide a valuable perspective to your work, causing you to explore different materials and unexpected themes through one-on-one discussions and critiques,” Gerenz said. “You grow a lot as a person as you go through undergraduate school and I am grateful to have had an amazing team of talented folks helping me along all those years.”

No matter what class Gerenz decided to enroll into at MSUM, she made sure to take advantage of every learning opportunity and incorporate it into her artistic work.

“When professors share their passions through various courses, it causes students to emulate their passion and share it with others, and the cycles goes on and on,” Gerenz said. “MSUM gave me a solid foundation to work with in terms of my education, progression as an artist and the confidence to pursue any professional endeavors I sought after.”

Hopper represents the largest program in the Art Department on campus. After receiving her B.F.A. degree in Drawing from MSUM in 2009, she returned a year later to obtain her B.S. in Art Education.

“I enjoyed the tight-knit community the program created, as well as the opportunities to enrich my teaching practice through tutoring,” Hopper said.

She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design and received her master’s degree this year in Arts Education. She is currently a local art educator at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Junior High School.

“A large component of getting accepted into the Maryland Institute College or Art was my strong studio practice, which I developed while attending MSUM in the B.F.A. program,” Hopper said.

This past summer, Hopper received an unforgettable opportunity in Scotland, where she attended the graphic design and photography tour with Don Clark and Al Sheets.

“It’s great to go back to MSUM and catch up with faculty,” said Hopper. “It’s even better to know that they care about your life and career after college.”