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Media Arts Students Win Scholarships


Jacob Erickson and Airi Natsumushi

Jacob Erickson and Airi Natsumushi

Las Vegas, NM – New Mexico Highlands University students Airi Natsumushi and Jacob Erickson were awarded scholarships in memory of the late Bryan Cokeley, a media arts student who died in 2008.

The two media arts students received $500 each for their scholarships. Both are seniors and are on track to graduate in May 2014.

“Airi and Jacob are talented students who both possess a strong work ethic and as well as creative aptitudes,” said Megan Jacobs, media arts professor and scholarship coordinator. “Airi has a keen eye for line and shape as exemplified within her photographic and design compositions. Jacob, along with being a talented writer, is a budding filmmaker with deft audio skills.” 

Natsumushi, 23, is from the ancient city of Takayama in northern Japan. She transferred to Highlands three years ago to study media arts with an emphasis in graphic design.

“The media arts professors are so knowledgeable, good at teaching, and kind,” Natsumushi said.  “I’m getting a good education at Highlands.”

Outside the classroom, Natsumushi is active in the International Club as well as the LIFT Club, an inclusive interfaith group on campus.

“There are a lot of events for international students at Highlands and I always enjoy participating in them,” Natsumushi said. “The people in the International Education Center are very supportive.”

She is considering her options after she earns her degree.

“When I graduate, one possibility is working with my mom, who owns and operates a print-making shop in my hometown in Japan,” Natsumushi said.

Erickson, 22, is a Las Vegas native and Robertson High School graduate. He is pursuing his BFA in media arts with an emphasis in film and audio.

“I first fell in love with filmmaking in the HD Cinema class media arts professor Kerry Loewen taught,” Erickson said. “Filmmaking requires a large, concentrated effort and that’s appealing. I’m interested in the creative aspects of independent filmmaking as a career.”

Erickson said that all his media arts professors have worked in the industry, and are teaching their students the industry standards they’ll need to work in the field.

“Our media arts professors always push us to be our absolute best,” Erickson said. “They also find us real-world, meaningful work through paid internships. You fine tune your skills through internships.”

Erickson worked on documentary film projects while interning at both the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe and the City of Las Vegas Rough Rider Museum.

He is also a volunteer DJ for the university’s radio station, KEDP 91.1 FM.

Bryan Cokeley was a Highlands University media arts student who had a longtime seizure disorder and died at the age of 30. Cokeley’s family established the scholarship in 2009 for outstanding media arts students.

Former Highlands University exercise and sport sciences professor Pete LeRoy is married to Cokeley’s mother, Kathleen LeRoy.

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