Student Opportunity

CONNECTS Fellow: Vivian Harp

“I was inspired to be an artist be seeing professional artists when I was young.  By working at Chabot Elementary, the kids get to see an example of someone who makes art in their day-to-day life.”

– Vivian Harp, CCA CONNECTS Fellow

Fellowship Description

Vivian Harp worked at Chabot Elementary School under the mentorship of art teacher Amber Miller, assisting instruction of art students through class preparation, one-on-one guidance, and curriculum development, Vivian used her expertise in ceramics to design a pinch pot lesson for the students.

CONNECTS Qualities:

This Connects Fellowship is an example of:

Vivian reflects on what she has been learning from the Students she teaches:

I’ve learned that kids will surprise you in every way possible. Like this morning they were looking at art and kind of discussing what they saw and they always said something I totally could not predict. So I feel like their responses are actually teaching me different perspectives on art that I wouldn’t know otherwise.

Amber Miller spoke about the benefit of Vivians ceramic lesson:

I learned from Vivian because I haven’t taken a lot of ceramics classes.  Getting to hear her work with the students on clay helped me rethink how to teach the kids and how to work with a specific material. – Amber Miller, Art Teacher, Chabot Elementary School.

Impact Statement

Site Mentor, Amber Miller(L) and CCA Fellow, Vivian Harp (R) share how CONNECTS impact them and their community:

“My fellow impacts my community with her one-on-one teaching method – seeking out students that need more support and modeling correct behavior. Her value is priceless!”

“I get to learn about social interactions and learning styles which inspires my personal practice.”


Athena Project

For the Athena Project, CCA students worked alongside students from ARISE High School, in Fruitvale, Oakland California to co-create murals.


Illustration student Ella Enkhsarnai shares her experience partnering with ARISE High School students

Connecting Communities

As I grew up and became more aware of my community, I began to think about what I could do to help my nation, Mongolia or even the United States, become a better place to live for the citizens with adequate living conditions by collaborating with the people who yearn for the same goal. Life in Mongolia is not always easy—hardship has always been present.  California College of the Art’s motto, “Make Art that Matters,” reached out to me, and here I am today as an Illustration major, facing a world of the unknown, absent of complete reassurance of my future but somehow feeling complete as ever doing something I love with an endless passion, and ready to embrace faults and mistakes to ultimately to create art that matters.  Before taking Athena Project as an ENGAGE course, I was, and still am, a Chimera Leader (CCA Student Leadership) who strives to bridge communities within and outside of the campus, advocates for the students, and guides new artistic-citizens to successfully transition into life at CCA. I had some experience in managing as well as mentoring students, so when the class began, I was extremely eager to meet and collaborate with new students to design and create community art that addresses issues relevant to the culturally mixed Fruitvale district.


Easing into Engagement

Of course, in the beginning, like everyone else, I was lost in the midst of all, perhaps overthinking about every word that came out of my mouth or every move that I made in front of the students to get them engaged and keep them interested.

I have learned that it is okay if there are some awkward and quiet moments, it is okay if the students do not want to engage in the activity at that time, and it is totally okay if I cannot reach every student. I have realized that it is remarkably significant to value each student who is showing up and participating, even if some might not be interested in art, they are still showing up and listening, and whoever shows up is the right person.


Learning as Peers

Since they were high school students only a few years younger than I am, we were much more like friends, teaching and learning from one another class to class. The progress of our friendship from beginning to end, slowly coming out of our own shells until we began to just freely converse about anything, was truly a highlight of the overall experience. Even though we, as mentors, are specialists in different branches of art making, our role was to guide the students to find and amplify their own voices, valuing each individuals’ expertise and interests that they bring to collaboration.

In working in the Athena Project, Ella Spoke with ARISE student, Katherine:

(Katherine) “lived here in the Fruitvale district her whole life,” born and raised. From her point of view, the goal of The Athena Project was to provide a space where they can “ask questions … to work with each other, to find a way to connect with people from other areas, from different backgrounds”

We, as mentors, strived to be the backbone the students needed to lean on for support, to eventually and hopefully provide them enough nourishment to grow and bloom to keep pushing on and decide for themselves what they need to know. It was so much less about what we know and more about what we learned.

Ella spoke with ARISE High School faculty, Nils Heymann:

This is the fourth year Mr. Nils has worked with the CCA students, and he has “always enjoyed having that mentor relationship where the CCA students are not teachers, not friends, nor high school students, but rather a mixture of things where the students can have casual and yet still have the mentor and mentee relationship…[the time] where everything gets pulled together, from day one to where everybody is shy to the last day where everyone is talking”(Heymann) has been immensely enjoyable to see.

From the sketch phase to the final, we painted, got painted on, laughed, cried and celebrated together when we finally finished. Through this experience at Athena Project, I am more aware about others and I, as well as the social issues in Oakland than ever before. In the future, I want to keep participating and volunteering in organizations that are for the people through art somehow, and I am just beginning to discover this interest enriched by the Athena Project.



Nirmoktra is a Sanskrit word which means “to empower through knowledge.” Team Nirmoktra brought creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to primary educationg in rural India.

The current education system in the government schools of India is based on rote memorization, and questioning information is discouraged. Team Nirmoktra decided to bring creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to rural India. Their community partner, the Aparajitha Foundation, connected them with their pilot school. At the Swami Vivekanand Model Government School in Kherwara, Rajasthan, the team worked with over 160 students and several teachers to develop the best ways of integrating these tools and frameworks into the curriculum. They also set up a learning resource center for teachers and for the student body, and collaborated with students on a school mural.

“In this case, the idea was design thinking (Critical thinking and problem-solving skills) and it was constantly altered to the version that would best suit the Indian context. I also learnt a great deal about how to make ideas universal, by reducing them to their fundamentals so that more people can access them.”

At the end of the project, the Aparajitha Foundation arranged for Team Nirmoktra to present their findings to the state government. The team presented the impact of their work to the head of the educational board and 72 other school principals. Many principals expressed interest in Nirmoktra running the same workshop at their own schools.


Miti Miti

Team Miti Miti believed that education was the key to transforming Colombia’s society, and sought to address educational inequity through a social business model.


Because access to school supplies can be a huge barrier for staying in school, the team created a buy one, give one company that designs, manufactures, and sells high quality notebooks. For every notebook sold, one is donated to a student in need in Colombia.

“As a social business, all of the proceeds go directly to support our mission. In Miti Miti, we believe in the power of sharing: by creating a competitive, high quality solution to a market-driven problem, we can make a sustainable impact on access to education.”

All proceeds go towards supporting their mission of sustainable impact on access to education. They are currently developing a tutoring program and a design-thinking workshop to empower students to achieve beyond their socioeconomic boundaries.