Last year's Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship was awarded to RISD student Juana Medina. As the winner, she was invited to attend the National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend, which was held in New Orleans last year.
I asked Juana if she could describe her own experience at last year's Reubens. She graciously consented, even though she is very busy with her new semester. Below is her description of the experience.
(All illustrations are by Juana Medina, from her Flickr page)
Here is Juana:
Being awarded the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship turned out to be an experience that has shaped my life and the way I have approached cartooning since.
Imagine for a moment, finding yourself surrounded by cartoonists you admire, comic creators you have read since you were learning to read. Imagine them greeting you and making you feel part of the family. Imagine, they tell you they've also had similar fears to yours, they are willing to generously share their experiences, their dreams and their obstacles, and even their inspiration and work dynamics. I did not ever imagine this could be possible, until I found myself, in New Orleans, surrounded by renowned cartoonists and comic creators, all sharing their experiences and generously giving their advice.
Receiving the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship was not only a great honor, but a commitment to reflect on what I have learned from wonderful cartoonists, making sure I apply my lessons on my everyday life. This weekend in late May of 2008, showed me what an important person Jay Kennedy was within this family of cartoonists, as they remembered him, making touching remarks of his thoughtful spirit and his brilliant mind. It was a lesson on kindness, as members of the National Cartoonists Society, dedicated hours to introduce me to each other and make sure I felt comfortable at all times. It was a lesson on humbleness, as they shared with me their techniques, obstacles and difficulties. A lesson of hope, as they enthusiastically shared their success stories and responded to my portfolio with valuable insights.
It was a space that made sure I would remember — hopefully, for a lifetime — the open heart and will to share that cartoonists from the NCS hold. The willingness to listen and give advice, their noble attitudes and sincere comments, are sure to stay with me and not only make me a more skilled illustrator and cartoonist, but a better person. The enthusiasm, love and honesty that characterized this space, served as true model to follow. I hold my memories of the invitation to receive the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship at the Reuben Awards in New Orleans as part of my dearest memories. If you admire cartoonists because of their work, I will have to tell you that once you meet them, you will be absolutely fascinated by knowing that it is not only their work what makes them special, but their generous spirit, their open hearts and their will to welcome new generations into one of the best — if not the best — professions on Earth.
I am lucky and grateful. And hope that many students to come, will have the chance I have had, to learn through experience, about Jay Kennedy, a man who touched plenty of lives with true friendship and a keen mind. To learn learn from other cartoonists, about their lives and their passions. And most definitely, come back to life after a weekend of surreal events and befriending invaluable people, back to your drawing table, reinvigorated with their enthusiasm; assured that with dedication, good humor and generosity, doors open widely. And with the certainty, that those who have made it before us, are a constant example to follow.
The deadline is February 6, 2009. Applicants need not be art majors. All of the information here.
My thanks to Juana Medina, who selflessly took the time to write about her experience. Thank you, Juana!