Arts students and their opportunities post-high school

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John Mendelin, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Pleasant Valley arts students are given skills necessary to thrive in high school programs, but there is one question every passionate artist asks themselves as they become a graduate: Should they pursue their specialized artistic medium as a major or career?

Many student artists are told from the start of their education how success takes unusual talent or a specific caliber of training to become a professional. Senior violist Daniela Rybarczyk has her own doubts about continuing her craft as a musician: “I am scared everyone else in the field will be better than me. There is always a need for violists, but when you have fifty auditioning for three spots at a school, I definitely have my doubts.”

Rybarczyk added “I know I am good for where I live, but the country is so big, and I feel like I can’t get a good answer when I ask ‘am I good enough to make it?’” This fear is not abnormal. Many young artists have incredible passion and talent yet still are worried they will not measure up. It is a fear no amount of dedication or practice can quell.

However, for students hoping to continue practicing their craft as a part of their lifestyle, universities do not alienate non-majors from opportunities in the arts. Olivia Peters, Pleasant Valley graduate and Biomed major, has found unique ways to continue learning about art by taking interesting courses for her gen-ed. “I am a science major but I’ve still managed to take an art history course and a dance theory course this semester as a part of my arts and culture general education requirements,” said Peters.

Peters has taken advantage of her university’s extracurricular opportunities as well: “I’ve gotten involved with a student organization called ‘Fools Magazine’, a literature magazine which focuses on displaying the work of student artists and writers. The opportunities are certainly out there, you just have to take the initiative to find them for yourself since your everyday curriculum might not inform you.”

Select graduates have chosen to directly pursue an arts major. Pleasant Valley alum and declared Theatre Arts major, Maaz Ahmed, has been having the professional experiences he sought from a collegiate department: “College programs, especially in theatre, emulate professional work environments, and it was definitely a bit of a learning curve adjusting.”

Ahmed also had fears of his own before officially committing: “I also definitely had and still have doubts. Pursuing the arts is not a safe route, but you’ll never know if you’ll succeed or not unless you get on and do it.”