Caterpillar Master's Fellowship Allows MFA Student, Sarah Zaleski, Freedom to Grow

December 2, 2010

By Sarah Garfinkel

There are many forms of financial aid available to grad students at Bradley. One of the most prestigious awards is the Caterpillar Master's Fellowship.

The CAT Fellowship is awarded to extraordinary students each year. If chosen, students are awarded 100% tuition aid and a stipend for living expenses.

Sarah Zaleski knows what a difference the fellowship can make for a cash-strapped student. She spent her first year as an MFA student struggling to cover expenses by juggling two jobs in addition to her full-time class schedule.  That left little extra time to devote to her creative craft.

This year, much of that pressure is off because she was awarded the CAT fellowship.

"Now that I have the fellowship, my work has taken a different path," she said. "It's allowed me to take a more conceptual approach."

Zaleski is a ceramicist, trained to make functional pieces like mugs, bowls and flower pots. Now that she has more time to exercise her freedom of expression, she's enjoying focusing on conceptual pieces based on her personal memories.

"I'm no longer as connected to the functional pieces," said Zaleski. "It has a lot to do with time. I might spend 20 hours on a conceptual piece, where a mug only takes 15 minutes."

The pieces Zaleski is currently creating are based on memories of her grandfather and exploring her relationship with him. They will be put on display in an installation at the Heuser Art Center starting December 7th.

"Last semester I would not have been able to do this. Now I have tons of time to work in the studio and I don't have to worry about financial needs," said Zaleski.