Arts Advocacy Day Winners of the FHEAN Student Arts Advocacy Award in Tallahassee, Florida


On March 21-22, 2017, the Florida Higher Education Arts Network (FHEAN) hosted their annual spring meeting in support of Arts Advocacy Day. The semi-annual meeting is an opportunity to foster important and supportive relationships with other arts administrators from across the state and collectively advocate for resources for the Arts.

During the FHEAN Spring meeting, three FIU CARTA Students received the “FHEAN Student Arts Advocacy Award” honoring students who bring attention to the essential role of the arts in Florida’s quality of life. Each of these students excel in performing or visual arts, possess a genuine interest in arts advocacy, and traits of an emerging arts advocacy leader. Students were recommended by faculty and then submitted biographies for final selection. The winners selected were as follows:

  • Emily Blanco, Communication Arts: Arts and Performance track
  • Adele Robinson Rodriguez, Theatre
  • Morgan Girard, School of Music

All three students had a special opportunity to voice their support for the arts; Girad expressed that what she liked the most was “seeing people who had dedicated their lives to the arts in practice and profession.” Girad also said that legislators were interested in the arts, which was reassuring.

Blanco, Robinson, and Girad had the opportunity to communicate thoughtfully and respectfully with dignitaries and legislators, about the value of the arts to society. Adele said, “What I liked best was being surrounded by such talented, powerful, and inspirational individuals advocating for what they believe is right. It not only made me see just how human we all are, but that I am not alone in the fight for the arts.”

When asked what they liked best about attending Arts Advocacy Day in Tallahassee, Blanco expressed that “Arts Advocacy day was a real eye opener” and that they were able to “experience firsthand how much support there is for arts education. The fact that there were so many leaders there who have the same passion I have for the arts was my favorite part of the experience.”

Additionally, Associate Dean of Students, Dr. David Rifkind, mentored the FIU CARTA student winners as they visited legislator to advocate for the arts. FIU CARTA is proud to have had such wonderful representation in Tallahassee by Blanco, Robinson, and Girad. Read their inspiring stories below.

Adele Robinson Rodriguez, Senior at Florida International University. Double Major: Theatre Performance and English Literature.
“At the start of getting my Bachelors, I could never choose between Theatre Performance or English Literature, so I decided to become a double major. Honestly, one of the best decisions I have ever made. These majors have not only fed into my passion of becoming both an actress and a teacher, but these majors have helped me cultivate my own voice and agency in this world. ”


Emily Blanco, Junior at Florida International University. Studying Communication Arts: arts and performance track.
Studying Communication Arts: arts and performance track. Born in Jersey City, New Jersey and moved to Miami in 2007. Currently interning with Professor Raquel Perez, works as a dance instructor for children, and an administrative secretary at a family company, Quality Container Transport. Performing arts has been a part of her life for sixteen years from singing to acting to dancing. Emily was a former Marlins Energy Team dance member and has performed on numerous cruises and stages in Walt Disney World. Emily participated in numerous volunteer opportunities by performing for audiences all over Miami, Florida. She was a member of a non-profit organization, Roxy Theatre Group for several years. Her dream job would be to be a performer on stage for the rest of her life or to continue teaching students the craft that she holds so close to her heart.


Morgan Girard, Freshman at Florida International University, School of Music
“When I was in elementary school the great recession of 2008 hit and my mother lost her job. We didn’t have much money and we struggled, we ended up on welfare and lived from check to check. I didn’t have many options when it came to extracurricular activities considering my mother and I didn’t possess extra funds. In middle school, I decided I wanted to play the cello, this was an expensive decision, the instrument was expensive as well as having a private teacher. Soon, it became very expensive to have these lessons, but my mother found us another teacher, one who attributed to my success now as an adult.

The odds were against me from an early age, whether I’d like to believe it or not I was at a disadvantage. There are more children like me and it has become my purpose to do what my teacher did for me; give children a skill, the skill of creating art to help them out of poverty. I couldn’t imagine a more noble cause to dedicate my life to.”


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