Natalia Poteryakhin
Natalia Poteryakhin
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Pre-College Summer Session

Every summer, high school students spend three weeks at MCAD finding out what college life is really like.

The Pre-College Summer Session at MCAD is a three-week, residential program that allows high school students to try out their skills at a college level. Students pursue a major and receive three college credits at the program's completion.

I've made one of the most important friendships of my life here, and now we are in constant support of each other's artwork and lives in general.

What surprised you the most about the Pre-College Summer Session?

I'm from the Minneapolis suburbs, so I always thought of MCAD as just a local college, populated by only midwesterners. I was shocked to find out Minnesotans were in the minority at the program. My best friend from my time at PCSS is from New York City, and my other roommates came from Wisconsin and Arkansas. I loved hearing about their lives back home and showing them around my favorite spots in Uptown.

 Natalia hard at work in the comics studio

Natalia hard at work in the comic art studio; photo by Forrest Wasko


What aspect of the program has had the biggest impact on you?

Being able to connect to other artists my age is revolutionary. It makes the process of growing and shifting directions in art so much more natural. We all feed off of each other like tiny little flames. I've made one of the most important friendships of my life here, and now we are in constant support of each other's artwork and lives in general.

How has your artistic practice changed since the program?

I have spent a lot of time pounding away at my drawings and sketchbooks to build a technical base, to the point that I lost emotional contact with my work before PCSS. At MCAD, I remembered that I began making art not to become good at it, but to put a part of my heart inside of it. I've returned to a really emotional place in my work, something rooted in who I am as a person. It's great. Hurts a little, but in a good way, a vulnerable way.

Natalia with her comic

Natalia works on a drawing for a future comic; photo by Forrest Wasko

 

What was your favorite experience outside of the classroom?

I loved the evenings at MCAD where I could gather a squad and head over to Quangs or Lu's Sandwichs to grab Bubble Tea and great food. The vibe of the town is great, and I felt warm and fuzzy to be there with friends.


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending the Pre-College Summer Session?

Think about what direction you want to push yourself. It's tempting to think of PCSS as a technical skill bootcamp, and while that may be what you need, I found out that I had so much to understand about my identity and other humans and bringing parts of myself to the surface.

 


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