Looks Bright: Roussel chases masterpiece in artful, academic pursuits

Published 11:55 pm Friday, January 23, 2015

By Monique Roth

Little did Jeanne Roussel know, her freshmen year of high school would change her life.

Roussel, the 16-year-old daughter of Mark and Jeannine Roussel of LaPlace, is now a junior at St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace. As a freshman, she took required course Studio Art I, and with the help of SCC art teacher Robyn Denny, found a true passion.

During her freshman year Roussel realized she thoroughly enjoyed art and was actually pretty good at it — so good, in fact — she has been accepted to attend a summer art seminar at Savannah College of Art and Design in July.

SCC Director of Instruction and Institutional Advancement Dr. Courtney Millet said each year Denny exposes her art students to various colleges and careers geared towards the arts, and Roussel said after Denny shared information on SCAD, she became interested in the program and started looking around the website.

Roussel, who Denny describes as “an incredibly self-motivated student,” researched the one-week summer program on her own, applied and got accepted.

Roussel said her parents will drive her to Georgia for the program, and then vacation up the east coast until it’s time to pick her up.

“They’re really supportive,” Roussel said. “I couldn’t ask for better parents.”

Denny said the summer program will be challenging, but she is certain Roussel will learn a lot from SCAD’s faculty and the college environment.

Since her freshmen year, Roussel has elected to take Studio Art II at SCC, and is currently in Studio Art III. Next year, she plans on taking Studio Art IV and Digital Design. Roussel’s art passion is actually the reason SCC will offer Studio Art IV for the first time next year.

When filling out a school questionnaire about what she would like to see offered next year, Roussel said, she wrote down a senior art class that would be more hands-on, unlike the school’s current offering of Digital Design.

School officials and Denny agreed to offer the course, which Roussel said she is excited about because it will give her the opportunity to work further with Denny and enhance her portfolio, which she will use to apply for college at SCAD.

“I appreciate the one-on-one attention I get,” Roussel said smiling when talking about Denny’s classes. “I can talk to her whenever I need her.”

Roussel said initially her family discussed her attending a larger high school in New Orleans, but she now sees the immense benefits of attending SCC, where the class sizes are smaller and she can benefit from more personalized time with teachers.

“I’m so glad I came here,” Roussel said. “If not, I would have never met Ms. Denny.”

Roussel, who is the youngest of five children and the only girl in her family, said her four older brothers are very supportive of her art talent and interest, even if they don’t quite understand it.

She said her brothers all have math and engineering interests, and while trying to tutor her in math, never quite understood why she wasn’t as interested as they were in it.

Now, she said smiling, they get it and see her happy with and excelling in art.

Roussel is an honors student at SCC, where she is a member of art club and participates on the swim and tennis teams.

A St. John of Arc Church parishioner, Roussel said it would be her dream to study art in college at SCAD.

“I want to see what’s out there and be exposed to as much as I can,” she said of her art passion. “I want to help people see things differently through art and change their hearts.”