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Covid-19 Affects Students' Travel Fellowships

By Natalie Poirier, Development Associate  

Colleges across the country usually have their calendars full of celebrations this time of year, with many students receiving awards celebrating their accomplishments. At Moore, our biggest award ceremony is the annual Honors Convocation.    

But this year, due to COVID-19, the Honors Convocation experience was a little different. Traditionally held on campus, in Graham Auditorium, this time the event was held through an interactive Zoom webinar.   

Not only did the event itself look different, but the behind-the-scenes selection process also pivoted to a completely remote atmosphere. Students typically convene in Moore’s 4th floor Board Room to present their proposals to a panel of jurors, who are tasked with deciding who should receive each award. Jurors are members of the Moore community who have either a strong passion for or expertise in the area of the award.    

Because the campus was closed as a result of national and state stay-at-home orders, we had students submit their proposals online, and then distributed via email to each juror. The jurors, after reviewing the proposals, then gathered via Zoom to discuss the merits of each and pick a winner.  

The most impacted of all were the 2020 travel fellowships, of which Moore offers four: The Frieda Fehrenbacher International Travel Fellowship, The Sis Grenald International Travel Fellowship, The Sarah Peter Fellowship, and The Harriet Sartain Fellowship. Each is designed to expand students’ artistic horizons outside of the classroom through a travel experience. They also encourage and support current juniors who seek to go to a particular site or part of the world, specifically to do research leading to an independent project or series of works, which must advance their development as artists and designers in contexts beyond the classroom.   

Two students, Adrianne O’Neal ’21 and Sara Johnson ’21, will travel within the United States, while the other two winners, Jade L.F.T Peters ’21 and Madison Diaz ’21, will travel abroad. O'Neal will spend the summer in Miami, Florida, to build on her internship with Grove Gallery & Interiors, exploring the intersection of interior design and transportation. Johnson will travel to Nashville, Tennessee, for an internship with Universal Music Group, where she will combine her passions for music and art in learning more about merchandising and branding. Traveling to Denmark, Jade L.F.T. Peters ’21 looks to research art’s power in raising awareness about and destigmatizing mental illness. Finally, Madison Diaz ’21 will visit Ottawa, Canada, to experience the internationally renowned Ottawa International Animation Festival, to network with other animation students and learn more about the film and TV production process.   

Jurors Kara Oldhouser ’06 and Lenni Seltzer-Perry ’89 were incredibly impressed by each submission they reviewed, finding it difficult to name winners. "The quality of the applications was high,” said Oldhouser, who was especially impressed by “the tenacity and maturity of the submissions.” She was reminded how crucial a travel experience is for a 20-year-old, the age at which she herself traveled abroad.   

Johnson's and Peter's project start dates are still undetermined due to COVID, but O'Neal will indeed be traveling to Florida this summer and Diaz is still scheduled to attend the festival in Ottawa later in September, unless further restrictions are implemented for that time. The College is closely monitoring lockdown orders in Tennessee as well as in Canada and Denmark, and is creating contingency plans based on those orders to ensure that all four students can carry out their projects.

Though travel delays are always a disappointment, the global lockdown has been a striking reminder of just how much we stand to gain when we can meet in person—whether around the corner or around the world.

Published on June 15th, 2020