Scholarship Recipient Profile: Aliyah Harmon ’16

How did you find out about MCAD?

Aliyah Harmon: My parents and I were living in a duplex in South Minneapolis and our neighbor told me about MCAD. I attended the Pre-College Summer Session and got a taste of college life at MCAD. After that, I knew I wanted more!


Aliyah Harmon, Ridin', 2015, digital illustration

Aliyah Harmon, Ridin', 2015, digital illustration


How did you decide to attend MCAD?

I always wanted to be an artist—my whole childhood was filled with the dream of being an artist. I was known as the “art kid” on our block. There may have been one day, after a particularly painful dentist visit, when I wanted to be a dentist. But that idea quickly passed after the novocaine wore off.

How did you choose your major?

I started in entrepreneurial studies, but I really loved video games as a child. I loved the idea that you could create different worlds and that my characters would represent my passion for art. I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my father, and he said, “Don’t let your anxiety defeat you. You built this opportunity, now go for it! Trust your heart. Follow your passion.” After that, I switched majors to animation.


Aliyah Harmon, Descentto, 2014, digital illustration

Aliyah Harmon, Descentto, 2014, digital illustration


How would you describe your work?

I took on the alias ParadiseInvite online because I wanted to create a safe space not only for myself, but also for others like myself who suffer from the stigma of mental illness. I wanted to create works that I would have loved and admired as a kid while staying true to myself. I tend to picture a far more colorful world whenever I daydream and I like to apply that to my perspective, which is reflected in my work. Art tends to come from a very tender and exposed part of my mind, so I hope it manages to reach others and inspires them to be their own prince in shining armor, rather than relying on the validation of average standards.

How have scholarships made a difference in your life?

I didn’t think that I was worthy of an arts education. I didn’t think I could afford a reputable arts college like MCAD—I couldn’t even fathom myself attending college. When I applied, I was shocked to receive my financial aid and scholarship package. I’m incredibly thankful for the ongoing scholarship support. Last year, I was honored to receive the Susan Calmenson Scholarship Fund. Susan’s support and the scholarship money have allowed me to continue my dream of pursuing an animation degree. MCAD gave me so much more than a scholarship—it gave me the courage to follow my heart. MCAD presented me with an opportunity to become the first in my family to pursue and finish college.

Describe MCAD in five words:

Comfort, inspire, home, purpose, family.

Susan and Aliyah

Aliyah Harmon with Susan Calmenson, the donor of her scholarship