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Muse Scholar Program celebrates first graduates

Two members of the Muse Scholar Program's first class of scholars - which entered Hunter during Fall 2011 - will graduate this May, a year ahead of schedule. Both are bound for graduate studies and plan to keep the arts very much alive in their careers and personal endeavors.

The Muse Scholar Program welcomes students into the program during a year-long course of study in the arts called the Muse Freshman Seminar. Scholars are free, however, to major in any discipline they choose - even the sciences - while completing several required courses meant to deepen their engagement with the arts both on and off campus.

The program's first graduates - a future public school teacher and an art historian - are perfect examples of the diverse interests and achievements of the Muse Scholars.

Samantha Elkaim will receive a BA in English Language Arts. This summer, she will enter the prestigious NYC Teaching Fellows program. An alternative certification route for NYC teachers, the fellowship begins with an intensive summer training. In the fall, Elkaim will join other Fellows teaching at high-needs NYC schools while working toward her MA teaching degree at St. John's University, which is supported by the Fellows program.

A graduate of Curtis High School on Staten Island, Elkaim entered the Muse Scholar Program as a visual and stage artist. Her involvement with the Department of English, however, helped her develop a passion and talent for creative writing. She shared her writing during both the 2013 and 2014 Muse Arts Showcase, reading from original works to the audience of fellow scholars and Hunter faculty, staff, friends and family.

In addition to participating in the annual showcase, Elkaim has been active in the New York cultural world, holding an internship with the Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan. Elkaim's experience in the Muse Scholar Program has taught her the power of the arts in the classroom, and she says she hopes to integrate the arts into future teaching jobs.

Kelly Wang, one of Hunter's 2014 valedictorians, is graduating summa cum laude with a BA in Art History. In the fall, she will enter Columbia University for an MA in Art History, concentrating in classical Chinese painting.

A graduate of Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, Wang has been studying Chinese ink painting and creating works independently since 2009. She  exhibited at both the 2013 and 2014 Muse Arts Showcase; you can see one of her paintings by viewing this pdf.

Wang also has experience in the curatorial and business sides of the art world thanks to a series of internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, China Institute and the Chinese Porcelain Company. She currently apprentices with the master gilder, artist and restorer R. Wayne Reynolds. She plans to intern with Christie's this summer.

"I thought I was going to be a journalist before I worked at the Met, but that internship changed everything for me, making me realize that my love of Chinese paintings could translate into a solid and rewarding profession in which I could continue to do my own painting," Wang said. "I believe it is possible to find a balance between doing what you love and doing something that involves what you love."