Senior Spotlight: Michaela

This week’s Senior Spotlight is Michaela, from Eamichaeladizneywmst River High School. Michaela participates in several school activities such as theater, Improv and National Honors Society. She has also volunteered at the Indie Book Festival.

After she graduates High School, she plans to go to Rollins College to study Theater and Film. She told us ” I’d love to see myself directing either on Broadway or on a move set. It’s a tough business for women to get in to and I want to prove that women can be amazing”. Michaela has been in theater since she was eight years old and is very passionate about the field.

Another interesting thing Michaela told us is that her sister, Rachael, has been her biggest inspiration. She said, “Rachael has inspired me by how strong and brave she is. She’s always by my side whether I’m up or down. Plus she’s been a hard-worker and I aspire to be like her”.

Along with going to college, she also mentioned that after graduating, she is most looking forward to traveling and hopes to go all over the world and volunteer.

Michaela, we love how inspired and driven you are! Let us know once you make it big on Broadway or in Film! We look forward to seeing what great things you do. 🙂

Leonard R. Tucker, Sr. Memorial Scholarship- Rachel Shirley

In honor of Leonard R. Tucker, Sr. a scholarship program was started in 2012. This scholarship is awarded to up to three St.Johns County graduating Seniors. To be eligible they must be graduating on time with their class, a full time student in St. Johns County, enrolled in one of the career academies or a member of the school’s yearbook staff, a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and finally, they must be enrolled full time in a post-secondary degree program beginning in the immediate Fall Term following their graduation. All applicants must demonstrate the Five Pillars of Character which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness and caring. Also, preference will be given to those applicants who have an interest in digital media and design, communications, photography, or computer technology. To apply, students must submit an essay, the completed scholarship application, two recommendation letters from academic teachers, current high school transcript or most recent report card and a sample of digital media/design or photography, if applicable. 

Recently, we had the honor of getting to sit down and talk with one of the first recipients of this scholarship, Rachel Shirley. She was a scholarship recipient in 2012 and has now graduated from FSU College of Motion Picture Arts with a BFA in Film Production.

Rachel was inspired to go in to film because it combines her love of arts and sciences. She was accepted to SCAD, Ringling, Flagler and FSU but despite the fact that she didn’t get in to the FSU Film Program immediately, she knew that FSU is where she wanted to be. She took the gamble on starting college there without being in the film program. After volunteering at several film festivals, she was chosen as a transfer student into the program and that is when her dreams started to unfold.

Once in the program, she quickly realized Cinematography was going to be her focus. Rachel told us, “I enjoy being physically connected to the actors, following their every move and being in that moment. It is powerful, moving and can be very emotional”.

Rachel gave us a fascinating insight as to what film school is like. In their time in the program, there are 5 main films you work on. You have projects of your own but you also work heavily with the other students and are a part of their pieces as well. Her fellow film school students are like family she told us. Upon graduating, Rachel completed four films herself and had over 1500 hours logged. She is also now able to do any job on a set, including special effects makeup which actually helped get her in to the film school. However, her passion is being behind the camera. She is glad that she was able to learn all of the roles on set though, this really helps them to appreciate everyone’s roles in film making and understand what they are going through.

When we asked Rachel about her goals now that she has graduated, she said she wants to stay in Florida for about a year to refine her documentary film making and also take this time for herself to recoup from school. She is going to be working for a newspaper during this time as a videographer and is also working on some freelance projects. After that, she plans to move to Los Angeles.

Her thesis film got in to it’s first film festival which she is extremely excited about! The children’s film is called Lola the Great and is about a magician’s assistant who is transported to another world where magic tricks come from. She has a difficult time finding her way back home but finds out that it is all about finding the magic within yourself.

Rachel is extremely passionate and has an amazing amount of drive. We are so proud of the accomplishments of this Scholarship Recipient and look forward to the great things that are sure to happen for her now and in her future.

You can learn more about Rachel on her website, http://www.rachelleighshirley.net/ and we encourage you to do so!

Also, if you are interested in applying for this year’s scholarship, please comment below.