Summer Arts brings creative students together

With the 2019 CSU Summer Arts program fast approaching, students who have participated in the past  are reflecting on why they want to return and why other students should enroll.

The program, which features both classes and a festival,is scheduled from June 3 to Aug. 12 on Fresno State’s campus as well as abroad.

“We expect about 400 students to join us this year, and a lot of them from Fresno State,” said Joanne Sharp, assistant director of CSU Summer Arts.

In total, the program will have 16 classes: 14 of them at Fresno State, and 2 others abroad in Japan and Spain, according to Sharp.

Enrollment costs vary depending on several factors including whether students are California residents, whether they are undergraduate or graduate students and how many units they are taking if they are a non-California resident.

Tuition fees, which range between $1,685-$4,478, cover the class, but do not include class materials, on-campus living or meals.

Classes will feature subjects including art, music, dance, theater, writing, media and animation.  The program brings all the arts together to offer courses for students of all creative fields.

Marisa Mata, an undergraduate student who studies English and creative writing at Fresno State, has attended Summer Arts more than once and plans to do so again this summer.

“Having done the program a few times already, I know that I would be missing out on so much if I didn’t enroll in a course that piqued my interest,” Mata said. “It really creates a space for you to concentrate on your craft, whatever it may be, and give it your all while being supported and surrounded by like-minded people, many of whom become your very close friends.”

Mata has taken various writing courses in the program, all of which she said have further inspired her to reach her dream of becoming an accomplished writer in ways that a regular semester class hasn’t.

“I learned about taking risks and creating the art that I want to, that only I can,” Mata said. “I learned to identify myself as a writer and artist and to fully embrace that.”

Mata said the class helped her gain confidence.

“I learned to believe in myself,” she said.

Echoing Mata’s interest in attending Summer Arts again was Tessa Barretto, who just graduated at Fresno State with a double major in art and French.

Barretto would be a graduate student the next time she signs up for the program.

She said it would benefit her because Summer Arts offers graduate credits in addition to undergraduate credits for the same course.  Her longing to go again is simple: she “absolutely loved Summer Arts!”

“I got to step out of the norm of regular class learning and explore new experiences,” Barretto said. “Even if you’re not into art, it’s a great experience to broaden your mind and learn by stepping outside of the comfort zone.”

“I highly recommend Summer Arts for everyone,” she added.

Meanwhile, Michael Flores, a theater arts major, will return to Summer Arts this year—not as a student, but as a member of the production crew.

Like Mata, Flores said he was highly motivated to continue pursuing his dream job thanks to the summer program, so he felt the need to be a part of it again somehow.

“I plan to move out of Fresno after I graduate to pursue improv and sketch comedy, so the comedy class I took gave me the tools and knowledge I need to make that next step,” Flores said. “I feel so lucky to have been to a class that catered to exactly what I want to do in my future.”

Mata, Barretto and Flores all took Summer Arts courses at Fresno State, while studio arts student Melissa Noriego traveled to Florence, Italy, last year to take the contemporary drawing and painting class.

“My experience at Summer Arts was nothing short of life changing,” Noriego said. “What I appreciated most about the experience was the group of students I had the privilege of studying with.”

Noriego said that she valued the connections she made working with other artists from all over California who had different backgrounds and artistic styles that helped her develop artistically.

Although Noriego would like to do the Summer Arts program again, especially abroad, she realized that “funding can be an issue.”

“I was fortunate that I was able to find scholarships and gifts to support my studies,” Noriego said. “I know some students had to take out more loans, which is difficult, especially when, as students, we are accruing lots of debt and interest on said debt.”

Scholarships and financial assistance are available to students for the Summer Arts program.

“About 80 percent of students get financial assistance,” Sharp said. “However, 20 percent of them don’t ask about scholarships.”

Knowing about the available scholarships is crucial because they “cut down the price a lot” for the program, Flores said.

Registration for Summer Arts opened on Jan. 3, and students have until the summer to sign up to appreciate art, no matter their major.

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