Endowment to help train talent

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    By Deanna Devey

    Qualified BYU seniors now have long-term access to funds that will help them transition from the academic to the professional world.

    The College of Fine Arts and Communications celebrated the creation of the Don and Shirley Oscarson Discovery Endowment at a dinner Wednesday night March 26 in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

    The Discovery Endowment will provide grants to help students expose their talents. The money helps to fund student proposals, including internships, auditions and exhibitions.

    “It”s not to discover talent,” said R. Don Oscarson, a BYU alumnus, who with his wife, donated the resources to fund this program. “It”s not to train talent. It is to help the commercial world discover the talent that”s been trained here.”

    Throughout his professional and creative experience, Oscarson said he learned it is difficult for the creative artist to make the leap from the academic to the professional world.

    “It”s very, very difficult once you”ve got this training and background to get out into the real world and have somebody pay you for what you do,” Oscarson said.

    For three years, seniors in the college have benefited from this program, which was funded by Discovery Grants and contributions to the college, Oscarson said. This new endowment has been established to fund the program already in place.

    “An endowment can last for generations into the future because only the interest is spent, and the principle stays intact,” said Varden Hadfield, associate director of major gifts for BYU.

    The dinner provided an opportunity for students to report back to the donors about their projects, Hadfield said.

    “It”s an exciting opportunity in the College that sets an example for other universities and other donors to think about how they can have an impact on student lives and their future careers,” Hadfield said.

    One undergraduate student, Andrew Black, created a film with his grant and won first place in the Slamdance Film Festival. Because he won first place, he is now eligible for an Academy Award, Oscarson said.

    “Some of these we don”t know exactly where they”re going to lead,” said Robert Barrett, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.

    Some students who have recently received grants will have opportunities to do internships in Mexico City and New York City, Barrett said.

    Twice a year, students can apply for grant money to help them with their projects.

    Afterward, Barrett meets with each of the applicants to discuss their proposals.

    Oscarson said they are looking to develop talents in people whose work will reflect the values and principles of the gospel and their testimonies.

    “What we”re looking to do is create successes,” Oscarson said. “The whole purpose of this program is to make successes out of these creative people. That”s all we want. We want them to become superstars in their fields.”

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