Celeste Cottrell, a senior Animation & Game Arts major, has received the Happy Fernandez Leadership Prize.
“Celeste’s involvement and engagement in the community, and her ability to articulate how her experiences have shaped her, made her an ideal candidate for this award,” said Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. “Celeste would make Happy Fernandez very proud.” The award goes to a senior
As the recipient of the prize, Cottrell will speak at Commencement May 18 about how Moore has pushed her further to become a leader and how she plans to continue to give back to her community.
“I am excited and overwhelmed to be selected,” she said. She would like to donate some of the prize money to Moore’s Black Student Union to help pay for an art kit for an incoming student, and to a farmers’ market in West Philadelphia where she and her family volunteer.
“If possible, I want to share it with other people who’ve applied for this prize, because they are just as deserving of the money as I am,” she said.
Cottrell is the oldest of nine children, and was homeschooled for seven years. Art was a big part of her life as she was growing up.
“My mother is an artist—she paints very actively,” Cottrell said. “She was always very passionate about art, and it was something she definitely pushes onto me and my younger siblings.” Free time was spent watching movies, working with papier-mache and doing crafts. “Whether it’s physical, or through music or dancing, we always had some kind of art shown in my house.”
It was at her homeschool center in West Philadelphia, Commonwealth Connections Academy, where she heard about Moore for the first time from a visiting student.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I like art, I could go there,’” Cottrell said. She attended several open house events.
“I initially came with the intention of doing Illustration, then I met Steve Wood (assistant professor of Animation & Game Arts),” she said. “I think I was wearing a Portal (video game) shirt, and he talked to me for a minute, and he was like, ‘You like games?’ And I said yeah.” Cottrell has earned a minor in Illustration.
Cottrell has been very active during her time at Moore, having been a founding member of the Black Student Union, a member of Student Government, a resident assistant, and a peer mentor for the sophomore Animation & Game Arts class.
She’s looking forward to getting a job, continuing to build her leadership skills and working with other artists. She says she will miss her time at Moore.
““It’s been quite an honor to be able to meet so many different kinds of people,” she said, “especially people that I feel like I’m going to be talking to for a lifetime. I feel like I’ve definitely made some very strong connections coming to Moore.”