This year marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship at Virtual High School. The scholarship, worth $1,000, acts as a legacy for a young woman who was passionate about fine art, photography, and life itself. Awarded each year to a VHS student pursuing education in a fine arts or design program, successful applicants are those who produce artwork which inspires others to live life courageously, positively, and fully.

In honour of Julie’s devotion to the world of art, we’d like to introduce you to Christina Yang, the 2020 recipient of the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship.

As you’ll see in her artwork, Christina wholeheartedly believes that art is meant to be expressive, impactful, and a source of happiness. In addition to creating illustrations, graphic designs, and animations, she also enjoys spending time with her friends, exploring new places, hiking in nature, and watching movies.

Christina chose Virtual High School when she needed to complete her MCR3U credit in Grade 11:

“Virtual High School provided me the freedom to study on-the-go. I got the opportunity to plan out my schedule at a pace that allows flexibility, and the course content was organized.”

Winning the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship at VHS as a result of her incredible art portfolio helped provide Christina with the financial support that she needed to follow her dreams. Currently enrolled in the graphic design program at Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University in Toronto, Christina is determined to ensure that art remains a permanent part of her career and life:

“It takes courage to choose a path that many would consider ‘unsteady’. Despite the uncertainly, I believe taking control over your own life adds meaning and purpose.”

Check out Christina’s advice for high school students who might be interested in applying to a fine arts or design program at a post-secondary institution:

  1. Do your research. Compare different schools and programs, and dive deep into what aligns with your future goals.
  2. A portfolio is a huge part of your admission process. When building a portfolio, it’s important to add personalized elements that are expressive.
  3. Explore new mediums. Try out different mediums and perhaps you could discover a new interest.

Christina is working hard to become a packaging designer one day. She recognizes that a large portion of each person’s ecological footprint is comprised of waste from packaged goods. Christina aspires to create more sustainable and reusable packaging options that are both visually appealing and less harmful to the environment. In doing so, she’ll help tackle climate change and develop innovative ways to advertise. She’s also an active student representative on the Sustainability Committee at OCAD, where she helps to integrate sustainability in course offerings and mobilize eco-friendly projects across campus:

“I would like to leave the world a better place than I’ve found it.”

We think Julie would have been so proud to see her scholarship awarded to such a creative and intelligent environmental activist. Keep up the great work, Christina!

To see more of Christina’s amazing artwork, take a cruise around her website.

For more information on the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship, please visit our Awards page.