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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


SDHS grad has designs for her future

BERLIN – When Grace Toulotte graduates from University of Maryland College Park this spring she’ll more likely than not accept a job doing graphic design for her new alma mater. Going directly from the classroom to a paying job isn’t something many college undergraduates have lined up for this spring but Toulotte’s completing a nearly-lifelong mission that ends with her as a graphic designer and runs directly through the Worcester County Arts Council (WCAC).

Toulotte was one of only two recipients of the WCAC’s fine arts scholarship last year and has, in fact won it for three of the years she’s been eligible.

“I applied for about 60 scholarships and received four,” Toulotte said. She endorsed applying for local scholarships because not only is there a smaller pool of candidates, but there’s also a particular connection to the grants that comes with a little bit of extra pride.

When she came in to the WCAC offices recently she was genuinely glad to see the council’s executive director Anna Mullis. Toulotte thanked Mullis for the scholarship and reminded her how much it meant to receive it.

“I know I tell you every time I see you,” she said to Mullis. “But it’s true.”

Having won the scholarship three times was a big reason Toulotte will graduate debt-free in May.

Toulotte is one of those fortunate souls who has understood what her vocation was for the better part of her life and has worked toward it. Having grown up with a familiarity of the printing business, she set her sights on becoming a graphic designer from an early age.

Toulotte edited Stephen Decatur High School’s newspaper The Hawk where she got an even better understanding of and feel for layout and design.

Given the competitive nature of the field, she’d hoped to set herself up for success by getting into the highly selective graphic design program at University of Maryland College Park.

Having won both the WCDC art scholarship as well as the inaugural Berlin Fine Arts Scholarship, wasn’t enough to gain her entry, though and Toulotte was accepted into the art program but not the design program, which was a crushing blow. She was, after all primarily interested in graphic design rater than art.

But rather than ending her bid there, Toulotte got an on-campus job doing graphic design for one department then another eventually earning enough of the staff’s respect that she’s all-but-assured a full time job designing for the university, an irony that’s not lost on her.

Whether she’d have pushed herself as hard to excel professionally as opposed to purely artistically if she’d been accepted into the program of her choice will have to remain one of the many “what if” story lines that we all have. But for now, as those who were accepted into the program worry about pounding the pavement in search of work this summer, the once-rejected Toulotte can focus her creative energy on her job.

That’s the key to the importance of the WCAC Arts Scholarships. They don’t provide access, only opportunity. The students they select, in addition to having to meet a certain level of artistic talent have to have the kind of drive that will take them where talent won’t.