Drue Kataoka Art Scholarship Recipients

The Drue Kataoka Art Scholarship has touched young people in the visual arts, dance, music, creative writing and art conservation. Past recipients have already begun to make an impact with their areas of artistic expertise. In their own voices, these talented young artists share what the scholarship has meant to them.

Quotes from The Recipients

"The Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship has helped inspire me to pursue my love of the art and its preservation, in its belief that art provides a way of learning that values the uniqueness of the way each of us sees things...I am grateful to the scholarship for encouraging young people in their love of the arts. It seems to me that art, in all its forms, has the power to inspire change. Discovering the various ways of looking at a painting--from spotting it in a textbook to gazing at it through the lens of a microscope--can lead to new ways of looking at the world."
-Caroline Roberts, Smith College (2002)

"I found the Drue Kataoka Scholarship to be an invaluable boost to my decision to major in music; as I mentioned before, I found that the scholarship gave me precisely the encouragement that anyone in the arts would need, especially since we are so often driven to self-doubt by the at-times impossibly huge task of establishing our identities as artists."
-Maxwell DeCurtins, University of Santa Barbara (2003)

"My first introduction to Drue was 6 years ago when she visited my middle school (Hillview) and she spoke about her experience as an artist. I firmly believe that it is often the little things like that, that make such a difference in someone's life. As a 6th grader I was inspired that day but little did I know that several years later I would eventually win the scholarship in her name. It used to be that I would look at professional artists and think, wow, I want to do that. But now, I realize that's just what I am doing. Everyday I am at college, I become even more appreciative of the scholarships, particularly the Rotary's DK Art Scholarship, that allowed me to be here. I really would not be able to do 'wonderful' things without the help and contributions of so many other people.

It is unusual to find support for rare art forms. My deepest concern is keeping alive Irish art forms that are disappearing or fading into the past. Receiving the DK Art Scholarship acted as reinforcement for the fact that I can succeed as an artist, and it really gave me a boost of confidence not to be afraid to pursue my passion for my art, modern Irish step dancing, Sean Nós (old style) dancing and singing."
-Caryn Ice, Evergreen State College (2004)

"The Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship has inspired me to pursue my passion in the arts--specifically in singing and theater. In these times I think it is vital to reach out to young people in support of the arts in order to cultivate creativity and an awareness of self and community. I am lucky to have received this scholarship, which for me embodies not only achievement in the arts, but imagination and dedication to the arts as well."
-Emily Borromeo, Brown University (2005)

"Receiving the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship was really the first validation I received for my artwork as a serious endeavor. I was overwhelmed by the novel concept that my passion could, in fact, blossom into something I chose to do "for a living." It was also a wonderful acknowledgment of my desire to combine my two artistic loves; poetry and painting. More than a year after receiving this notable award, this scholarship will have influenced my direction; it has encouraged all of my successes. Thank you for the simple reassurance that doing what you love, no matter what that subject is, sometimes does pay off."
-Elyse Moore, Middlebury College (2006)

"Being the 2007 award recipient for the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship was an exceptional honor as the pool was very competitive this year. For me the scholarship represents many things. It represents my testimony to becoming a professional artist and pursuing a career in a very competitive field. I have chosen to be a vehicle of the arts and share it with my communities, which are now both the East, and West Coast communities. The DKAS also represents a fusion of this East and West for me. It is bringing the appreciation of art, which the East coast proudly displays in New York, to the Bay Area and encourages the Bay's artists to grow. It also represents the mentoring and recognition of young artists and their talents. Drue is encouraging these hopeful youths to live their dreams and foster their creative minds. I thank Drue for providing me with such support and for her unending encouragement and enthusiasm. Good luck to future applicants!"
-Megan Putnam, New York University (2007)

"I am so thankful to have received this scholarship—it is a great honor, and one whose mission I can only hope and try to carry on in the future. I believe with all my heart that art has the power to change individuals and communities, and by being a carrier of the messages embodied by art, one can serve others in the deepest of ways.

Because of this belief, I started my own community service effort, The Crane Campaign, with the mission of using origami paper cranes to improve facility environments and spread hope to people of all ages through teaching crane-folding, and displaying sets of 1000 cranes. I know that the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship was started in response to the tragedy of 9/11, and in the same way the Crane Campaign began in connection with the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia as a result of the WWII bombings in Hiroshima, but whose determination to fold paper cranes and courageous spirit inspired the building of a monument in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and continues to encourage people worldwide to send sets of 1000 cranes to Japan today. The Crane Campaign is based on a mission to continue artistic traditions for peace, and hope in a modern world that can sometimes appear dark. This parallel is encouraging, and powerful. It teaches that creative work can and does make a difference.

I will also continue work on my own painting and the study of art history in the future, with the hope of building a career as an artist or curator, and as an individual for social change through the arts. I am the girl who spends long nights on canvases, loves to learn about Frida Kahlo, and believes truly that expression can act as an answer to many of the world's problems.

Thank you especially to Drue for this profound support."
-Sydney Hessel, Vassar College (2008)

"The Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship has been such an encouraging opportunity for me as I begin my formal arts education in fashion design at Parsons the New School for Design. By talking with Drue and earning this prestigious scholarship, it has shown me that it is possible to pursue the arts and turn what I am passionate about into a viable career. I would like to thank Drue for her continued dedication and support of young artists like myself in the Bay Area. "
-Molly Murphy, Parsons the New School for Design (2009)

"To understand what this award means to me, you have to understand where I come from. I have grown up always losing. Whether it was waiting anxiously in the PE line only to be utterly disappointed when I was the last one to be called, my name was always said with disappointment, or sitting on the bench on the countless AYSO soccer games, waiting in the hot sun only to getting little to no play time. I have never really won anything before this award. The first time I stepped into the dark room, how the fumes from the chemical baths quickly overwhelmed me as I stood there waiting form my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting, I was marveled by the crazy setup of the whole room. As I laid my first sheet down for my first work print, I was hooked. As my style became more focused, and my project more defined, I received the countless appraisals, but I did not know what to think of them. This award means a lot because it is an award. It is because that there is more than just money tied to it, but also the reassurance that someone believes in my art and my message. Hopefully one day I will be able to share my art with the world, along with my message. Hopefully through my art I will one day be able to break the barriers of same old derogatory stereotypes and hopefully bring a more compassionate, less degrading image of the Mexican American to the people of the world."
-Jose Churape Lopez, Kalamazoo College (2010)

"Theatre has been something that I have used since the second grade, to express my thoughts, opinions, and emotions. I am so thankful for the Drue Kataoka Art Scholarship as it is recognition that I am doing something right with my passion, and that I am on a course for success. I plan on using this award to help further my dream in studying theatre in college and pursuing my goal of acting for film and the stage. I know there will be many more trials and tribulations up ahead, but I am thankful for the support of Menlo Park Rotary and Drue Kataoka."
-Zachary Clarence (2010)

"I am incredibly honored to receive the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship. For as long as I knew what a career was, I’ve wanted to be an artist, but, in all reality, I never believed that dream to be truly possible. This scholarship validates my dream of being a working artist. It’s like a ticket: a ticket that will allow me to pursue my goal to levels I didn’t even know existed. I’m so grateful to Drue and the Rotary Club for providing this scholarship and encouraging young artists in the Bay Area. Having someone support your dream is invaluable. I am lucky enough to be so blessed. It’s not easy to choose the artistic path, so it’s incredibly important to know there are others out there who believe in you and the importance of art. The Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship provides me with the tools to move forward with my art and I know it will be there to support and encourage many young artists in the future. "
-Clare DeZutti, Maryland Institute College of Art (2010)

"Coming from a family of professional artists is a double-edged sword...I hope to have inherited some of their talent, but I am also constantly warned me about the financial gamble that comes along with creating for a living. Drue’s scholarship has been an extremely encouraging and reassuring validation that there are people who still care about the arts and want to see young people pursuing their passions. I plan on double majoring in studio art and neurobiology at UC Berkeley next year. So not only am I honored to have received this scholarship, it has also endowed me with more confidence as I go off to college that art is a viable option for a career, along with being something I love. I want to thank Drue. Her commitment to fostering the arts amongst young people is inspiring, and I believe her efforts will continue to help people like me realize that they shouldn’t be nervous about pursuing their passions. She demonstrates year and year again that there are people in the world who want to see people creating, and have a commitment to making sure they do so. "
-Sofia Gutierrez-Dewar, UC Berkeley (2011)

"Art has been one of the driving forces of my life, compelling me to draw and think creatively in not only my work but also the world around me. I am grateful for the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship in enabling me to embark on my artistic journey as I begin my studies at Whitman College. Drue's dedication to the artistic visions of young people instills in them a sense of confidence and support that is essential in developing their passion. I am so thankful for the encouragement and generosity that showed me that being an artist IS possible, respectable, and indispensable. "
-Kai Rasmussen, Whitman College (2012)

"Receiving the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship was a most memorable experience because it was the first validation I ever received for my artistic endeavors. I grew up in Kenya watching the BBC and I greatly adored American pop culture and dance. I would obsess over artists like Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams and this affinity led to my great interest in fashion, noticing what my idols wore and how what they wore defined their individual identity. Unfortunately, I was raised in a strict, political family that devalued dance and fashion as unworthy careers and this made it very difficult to pursue my dreams. Nevertheless, after immigrating to the States I did what I had to do on the side to get me a step closer to fulfilling my aspirations. I’m so grateful to Drue and the Rotary Club for providing the scholarship because it really assured me that in a world where art is not the most supported aspect of life, there are still artists around here who are willing to look out for each other's wellbeing and success. "
-Brian Omondi, St. Edwards University (2013)

"Receiving the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship has reiterated the fact that I am, in fact, capable of pursuing a career in the arts. Drue herself is a fantastic artist, as are all of the other prior recipients– it's an absolute honor to receive this award and with that, be associated with such talented people. I plan on attending Parsons the New School for Design in the fall–somewhere I've wanted to be since I was very young. With that, it's kind of surreal to see all of this come together– to realize that my dreams weren't as far away as I thought they were. I would like to thank Drue for this fantastic opportunity to be recognized as a young artist within the community, and for her support and genorosity to passionate artists like myself. Her legacy is one that will continue on through her, her work, and her scholarship– it will last for many generations to come. "
-Kristen Wong, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, Fine Arts & (forthcoming) California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA, BFA (2013)

"I want to study art to be able to reach out to people on another level and share with them an experience that has helped me so much. The Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship gives me both validation for my own contribution to the art world as well as the means to be able to grow as an artist and create a platform to share my passion. I know it will be difficult to succeed in something as difficult as the fine arts but I am eager and excited for a future where art is more than a hobby and develops into something truly influential and gratifying on a scale larger than myself. I am grateful for the opportunity this scholarship provides and hopeful that I too can one day give back to young artists in a similar fashion. "
-Emily Sykes, University of San Francisco (2014)

"I have always loved art. Whether learning from a teacher in a traditional setting or experimenting with different mediums on my own, art is a creative outlet for me, allowing me to express myself. I knew that I wanted to build my life around art, so when applying to college I chose to major in architecture, which would allow me to combine my passion for art with the ability to make a physical difference in the world. My dream is to combine visual arts with everyday buildings, creating beautiful and unique places for people to live and interact. Winning the Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship has strengthened my determination to succeed. It not only gives me confidence in my artistic ability but also helps to support me financially, bringing me a step closer to achieving my goals. Every student should be able to start college with the advantages conferred by this scholarship: belief in oneself and encouragement to follow one’s passions. "
-Lucy Aaron, University of Southern California (2014)