Four Haywood Community College Professional Crafts students, one representing each field of study, were recently awarded Gateway to the Arts Scholarships. Stephanie Costa, Fiber student; Melinda Erwin, Clay student; Penny Jewett, Wood student; and Julie Merrill, Jewelry student each received $1,000 for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The Gateway to the Arts Scholarship is a new scholarship available at HCC and is the result of the “Gateway to the Arts, Fine Art and Craft Show" which was held in May. Gateway Club co-owner Art O’Neil and Studio Thirty Three jeweler Diannah Beauregard partnered in this event to create the scholarship fund.

Criteria of the scholarship is that recipients must display financial need by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and be in their second year with the exception of weaving. Consideration is given to students with a 3.0 grade point average or better. The top three students in each program are interviewed by respective faculty members.

According to Beauregard, who is a 1986 graduate of HCC’s Professional Crafts-Jewelry program, the intention of the “Gateway to the Arts, Fine Art and Craft Show” and scholarship is to support the education of fine art and craft artists in Haywood County.

Costa says fiber is a passion of hers and upon graduation; she would like to integrate working with people, anthropology, and weaving together. In addition to attending HCC full-time, Costa works 30 hours a week at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville.

“If I had not got this scholarship, I could not have come to school full-time and would not be able to get my degree in two years,” Costa says.

Erwin says she grew up around clay all her life near Sea Grove. She is in the process of setting up her own studio out of her home in Haywood County. The studio is called River Glass Studio. Receiving this scholarship was especially helpful to her being a mom of two children ages 8 and 9.

Jewett already has her own small business, Rustic Nature Creations, and feels that earning a degree in Wood is an extension of what she already does. Her custom work is available at Turning Creek Gallery in Clayton, Georgia, Fiddle Stix in Mars Hill, and the Watershed Trading Company in Bryson City.

Jewett returned to school after being laid off with over 20 years in office management and customer service. “It was time to do something for myself and I have found a passion. I have never felt more whole in my life.”

Upon graduation, Jewett will complete an apprenticeship with Western Heritage Furniture in Jerome, Arizona.

Merrill has made jewelry for six years and came to HCC to take the blacksmithing courses. She participated in the workstudy program at the John Campbell Folk School in the blacksmithing program. She likes to incorporate steel into jewelry and enjoys rustic, older-looking jewelry.

After completing a degree at HCC, Merrill would like to complete a residency at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

For more information about the Gateway to the Arts Scholarship, please call 828.565.4170. For more information about HCC’s professional crafts programs, please call 828.672.4500 or visit online at