Our Students

Meet Our Outstanding Art Students


Sydney Maria Sieviec  – Outstanding Senior Award Winner

When I was very little, to keep expenses at the lowest possible cost, my parents decided to travel briefly with my siblings and myself, following my father’s demanding job up and down the east coast. We lived in a tiny camper designed for two, and our daily school lessons were abbreviated to allow time for the exploration of some of America’s greatest museums and historical landmarks, such as the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

It was during this time that I was exposed to monumental works of art from every culture, and I was inspired. I had already forged my father’s complex signature before I could recognize individual letters, and prior to leaving public school in kindergarten, I was sent to the principal’s office to show him the train I drew. I felt like art making was my strong suite, and it fascinated me to see the art of other great people from ancient and modern societies.  

However, as adolescence brought the trial of maturation, I often dismissed art in lieu of “academic” subjects, which is a decision I regret still. It was when I was presented with the challenge of choosing my career path at the start of college that I moved past my earlier notion of art as “cheap therapy” to a more serious consideration of how I could contribute to the world and still do what I loved. Art education answered my desire; the only thing that brings me more joy than creating something I can take pride in is seeing others do the same.

Due to the endless encouragement from my family, who instilled in me a love of learning and assured me that the best way to be true to myself was through art, my close friends, who admired what I was capable of and gave me confidence, and the astounding level of individualized attention from the Radford University Art Department faculty, who imparted in me a basic understanding of their area of expertise, I’ve had the opportunity to thrive. I am assured that I am prepared to teach the artists of the future how vital it is to express oneself and think divergently, while I continue to challenge my own capacities as an artist.


Emily Whittaker – Outstanding Senior Nominee

Ever since I can remember, I have loved to create and explore. At an early age I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the fine arts, due to the fact that my older sister actively participated in art clubs and my aunt had established a career as a painter. Even as a child I found their work to be beautiful and because of this, I developed several female role models that encouraged me to express myself. As I grew up in Radford, I became more and more involved with art clubs, sports, and after school activities. In high school, though I enjoyed other areas of study, I felt a strong need to explore my creativity. I became a more active member in the Pulaski County Art Club, assisted in painting murals, and also picked up piano, guitar, and mandolin lessons. As college approached, I decided to stay in the area and attend Radford University, as I had only heard good things about the art department. I had originally applied with the intent of earning a degree in art education, but after undertaking an introductory painting course with Dr. Halide Salam, I realized that I had finally found my calling. I decided to take the plunge and pursue a degree in studio art. At first I was extremely nervous about my parent’s reaction to my decision. However, they fully embraced my choice and have supported me my entire college career, a reaction that I couldn’t be more thankful for. Through the support of my family and the amazing mentorship of Dr. Salam, I have grown exponentially as an artist and a person. Once graduation has passed, I will continue to develop my portfolio and further advance my skills as a painter. After two years I have the intent of earning a Master of Fine Arts to further achieve my childhood dream. Though my undergraduate experience is coming to an end, I will forever cherish my time spent at Radford University.


Sarah Louise Harvell – Outstanding Senior Nominee

I, Sarah Louise Harvell, was born November 17, 1990, in Indian Valley, Floyd Virginia. I grew up in a small, single wide trailer in a family of five with two older siblings. Growing up poor I quickly learned the value of a dollar and had to earn anything I wanted, including my education. My parents quickly taught me by having drive and being steadfast in my studies I would be successful in life and achieve anything I set my mind to. I regularly went to work with my father who was a plumber to earn my allowance. In seeing the way people lived, especially professors, I decided that I wanted to go to college. I am first in my family to go to and graduate to college as well as go on to graduate school in which I have been accepted into East Carolina University Master’s in the Fine Arts three year graduate program. By studying Jewelry and Metalsmithing here at Radford University I have quickly learned that the investment I made in myself and my education four years ago has been the best investment I have ever made and I am excited to continue that investment in graduate school.


Kasey Sutphin recieves an Outstanding Student Nominee Award from Department Chair, Dr. Roann Barris.

Kasey Sutphin – Outstanding Senior Nominee

Hello. I am Kasey Sutphin. I am a graduate of Radford University with a BFA in Graphic Design. I enjoy all aspects of design, but most specifically I enjoy typography and layout. I also have gotten into packing design, which I really love. I also really love photography. I always have a camera with me! Outside of art, I like going outdoors and spending time in nature. I love to just lie on the ground and look up at the trees. My one true passion in life is to live life to the fullest and take every opportunity that comes to me, even if sometimes that means making my own opportunity.