2014 Barbara Benson Scholarship Winners

TACFA Announces 2014 Annual Scholarship Winners

Samantha Reader is a multi-talented young lady who is headed to Texas Christian University after her graduation from Beckman High School. Jackie Peters, her visual arts teacher, describes Samantha as a student of high intelligence, creativity, and impeccable character.  She is a semi-finalist in the prestigious 2014 LA Music Center Spotlight Awards and a finalist in Nikon’s Best in High School and College Photography.  These talents will enable Samantha to pursue her goals of being a successful entrepreneur, running her own photography studio or working with companies doing advertising and marketing.

Samantha is inspired by the surrealist style in Brooke Shaden’s photos.  This has led her to do more self-portraiture and experiment with levitation and varying angles.  Her specialty is adding small details that contribute to the overall unity of a photograph.  Samantha Reader will certainly have a successful career!

Rachel De Fontes  will leave Foothill High School and head to New York University (her dream school) as a Theater major.  In a perfect world, she will leave NYU with a degree and will be headed directly to Broadway…….  She would love to guest star on TV shows, direct and produce shows and films, and dabble in all areas of theater.  Rachel sings, dances, acts, and directs.  Jan Laurie-Russell describes Rachel as “one of the most talented and focused students who displays an amazing amount of maturity, honesty, compassion and focus in all of her projects.”

Rachel is inspired by Idina Menzel whose love for performing and music is evident.  Idina says,  “Try not to be too one-dimensional.  Read a lot.  Study other things….. It will make you well-rounded.”   And, Rachel DeFontes is just that!

Luke Villegas has committed to the Musicians Institute, College of Contemporary Music in Los Angeles, majoring in guitar studies and performance while obtaining his BA degree.  In ten years, Luke will be making a living creating music with a large fan base.  He describes himself as an optimist who will never give up on his dreams.  Luke is graduating from the Orange County School of the Arts, but lives in Tustin and attended Utt Middle School where his teacher, “Mr. Weaver was such a great mentor to me.  He taught me to have confidence in myself!”  Luke also describes his father as a huge inspiration.  His father told him that since “you have to work for the rest of your life, you might as well choose a career that will make you happy and excited to get up in the morning and go to every day!”

Mr. Ashley, his music instructor characterizes Luke as the “go to guy” who has an insatiable curiosity about the whys and hows of the creative process.  So, be prepared for the famous and entertaining Luke Villegas.

Shanice Edwards is graduating from Beckman High School and headed to the University of California at Riverside to major in theater.  Self-expression, creativity, individuality, and imagination are traits that she values.  And, Shanice tempers that with drive, self-determination, and a passion to pursue her dreams of becoming a successful actor.   With a theater degree, she also is motivated to become a teacher who could be a part of helping youth chase their dreams as well.  Shanice’s inspiration comes from her hardworking and determined mother – a Special Education teacher – who is always supportive and compassionate.

Antonio Moon, Drama Teacher at Beckman says that, “Shanice has grown into an amazing artist and citizen.  As an audience member, you will find yourself looking for her on stage, because frankly – she is enticing!”  Today you will see all of those qualities in her short dramatic presentation.  She is talented and impressive!

Ernesto Mariscal is enthusiastic about his next adventure – He will be attending the Art Institute of Orange County where he will be learning 3D Art Animation from sketching, to 2D and 3D graphics.  His Hillview High School Art Instructor, Bertha Cardoza, describes Ernesto as exceptional and talented – a student who demonstrates great leadership skills in group projects.   Recently he created a tile wall for Beswick Elementary School and received the award for ROP Distinguished Student.  He was invited to paint a mural for the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and design a t-shirt for the musician, “Self Provoked.”   He has had a tough childhood, but continues to work hard and overcome obstacles on his way to a career in art.

Ernesto says his father has always given him guidance and advice that are both motivating and helpful.  We know that his creative art and his dedication will be the keys to his success as an adult.   His strengths are obvious……. Drawing, painting, and the ability to see objects with a new point of view!

Off Tori Cowdell goes to Brigham Young University Hawaii!  That is just the first step in her goal to teach music to children around the world.  After graduation from Foothill High School, she will continue her song-writing and singing in different languages.  Kim Hess, Tori’s vocal instructor, describes her voice as incredible, with a huge range, from alto to soprano.  Being a quick study who learns music quickly, she is comfortable with classical music, musical theater, and pop.  Kim has mentored Tori to take her weaknesses and turn them into strengths.  As a member of the Foothill Madrigals, the Dicken’s Carolers, and Knights on Broadway, she has performed in many community and school events.  She has also performed in Carnegie Hall and at the ACDA Western Conference.  Tori enjoys her a cappella groups, the “Rock-a-Bye Babies” and “The Alley Cats”.

She has matured and refined her style.  Her singing will take her many more places!

After graduation from Foothill High School, Emma Foss is bound for Chapman University to study visual arts and neuroscience.  Someday she will be a Fine Arts Professor, with her own art gallery on the side.  Emma is described by her art teacher, Jeff Gillette, as a naturally gifted artist who tackles a wide variety of media to create life-like representations of faces and figures.  As a Junior, she completed her International Baccalaureate fine Art coursework and commanded a perfect score for the Advanced Placement Exam.  She has taken forays in the real world art events – art fairs, college art classes, and art contests.   Additionally, Emma is on her way to compete in the Miss California contest, representing the City of Tustin.  (Her talent? Painting, of course!)

Emma Foss is inspired by her mother who is an active and dedicated member of the local community.  And, she will inspire you with phenomenal talent and her charismatic personality!