A Bright Future for President Scholarship Award Winner Matthew Salanoa
Academy of Art University is passionately dedicated to helping students realize their potential in
art and design. Matthew Salanoa is one of the many aspiring artists and designers who have been
assisted in pursuing their educational goals in art and design through the Academy’s Scholarship
Program. Matthew, a Motion Pictures and Television major, received President Scholarship Award,
bestowing him with four years of free tuition.
Shavon Grayson, an Academy Outreach Representative, presented the Pre-College Art Experience
programs at Matthew’s alma mater, John O’Connell High School. The Academy’s Pre-College programs
are a way for high school students to get a head start in art and design and thus, only ninth
through eleventh graders are eligible.
Elli Shahideh, an art teacher, introduced Shavon to Matthew and told her that he really
wanted to attend Academy of Art University. Since Matthew was a senior, he was not eligible for any
of the Pre-College scholarships. Shavon was inspired by Matthew and went to President Elisa
Stephens to see if there was something they could do for him.
“She is very kind and dedicated to helping people pursue their dreams through art,” Shavon
said. “I had no idea a scholarship of this magnitude was going to be given to Matthew.”
Matthew was shocked when he found out he was awarded a scholarship to his dream college.
“I really surprised that the possibility was even there,” he said.
Matthew also had amazing opportunity to meet Dr. Stephens and give her a private screening of
“I was really excited,” he recalled. “It made me more comfortable coming here.”
Elli was equally thrilled that her standout student got this amazing opportunity.
“I believe that Matthew has a successful future; maybe that is why I made him promise that
when he stands on the stage receiving his Academy Award he will mention ‘my high school art
Now in his second semester at the Academy, Matthew is thoroughly enjoying classes. From
acting to screenwriting, Matthew is learning skills he never even fathomed. After graduation, he
hopes to make an independent movie with a friend before he dives into the film industry.
Marty Williams, the Instructional Reform Facilitator at John O’Connell High School sees great
things in Matthew’s future.
“I will put no limits on my expectations for his work and I can’t wait to see where his drive
and sensibilities will take him in the film world and the world at large.”