While the actual recognition ceremony for the first recipient of "The Ringo": The Mike Wieringo Scholarship Award was on Saturday night (prior to the HeroesCon Annual Art Auction), Matt Wieringo posted the full scoop on his personal blog on Tuesday. The recipient of the $1,100 award is Katelyn Rae Rochelle, a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) student who hopes to pursue a career in comic books after graduation. To quote Matt from his announcement: "Remember that name. I think you’ll be hearing it a lot in a couple years."
Rochelle attended HeroesCon on Saturday and spent some time with one of her instructors, Tom Lyle, at the SCAD booth. She also hung out with Matt and his wife Suzanne. When asked about her genre preference, Rochelle expressed an interest in working in horror--potentially something with werewolves. According to Matt: "We took her around to meet a few of Mike’s friends who offered her some free, friendly advice. Todd Dezago, being Todd Dezago, teased her at every opportunity."
When reached for comment, Dezago denied Matt's vicious allegations. In all seriousness, Dezago said of Rochelle: "She was a good sport and is a very talented young artist. I loved the work that she sent in as samples and think that, as Matt says, we'll be seeing more of her in the future."
"Though Matt and Suzanne and I were friends before, Mike's death certainly brought us closer and I can't think of two nicer, more caring, or generous people," Dezago said. "Their desire to create the scholarship in Mike's name, and all the very hard work they've put into it, is such a wonderful tribute to his memory and, hopefully, a chance for some struggling students to get a leg up as they rocket toward their artistic futures."
Matt conceded in the official announcement that the selection process was more challenging than he had expected it to be. "We assumed we’d get the portfolios from the three finalists and one would stand out above all others immediately and that would be that," Matt admitted. "But this was not meant to be. I guess the finalists wouldn’t have been finalists if there wasn’t something there and the decision was very difficult, almost heart-breaking."
The criteria for the $1,100 award is detailed at the SCAD website: "The recipient of this scholarship must be a full-time undergraduate student studying sequential art. All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate financial need. Finalists will be expected to submit a portfolio. This scholarship is renewable up to three times as long as the recipient continues to meet established criteria."
Future plans for the scholarship fund include developing a website, according to Matt. Robot 6 will provide a link to the new website once it is live.