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Emily Orth, 2020 Bruce Duke Memorial Student Scholarship Winner
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Emily Orth, 2020 Bruce Duke Memorial Student Scholarship Winner

Since 2019, the San Joaquin Potters Guild has awarded a ceramic art scholarship to a deserving student who attended either San Joaquin Delta College or Modesto Junior College.

Emily Orth of Modesto, CA is the 2020 winner of the Bruce Duke Memorial Student Scholarship.  She received a $500 scholarship.  Emily’s journey with clay began in an art class in high school, with her teacher Susan Vlahakis.  Emily said in her artist’s statement that “Susan provided me the doors; I just had to walk through them.  On the other side of those doors lived wisdom only knowable through experience.”  Although she entered MJC taking nursing classes – daydreaming about her future paychecks, she said “the call back to art was more alluring than all the money in the world.”   Wanting to get her hands back in clay, she enrolled in ceramics at MJC.

She will be attending Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA this fall.  Ceramic instructor and member of the San Joaquin Potters Guild,  Randy Crimmel, presented Emily with her scholarship at the end of June.

In her scholarship application she stated “Clay remembers you. Every thumbprint is a choice that reminds you of the power of your decisions. I learned that clay can hold energy for you that you might not feel capable of carrying yourself. I learned that practicing ceramics is highly therapeutic and should be offered to more people in this world.”

The scholarship was named in honor and memory of Professor Bruce G. Duke who taught ceramics and art at San Joaquin Delta College for 39-1/2 years.  At ninety three years old Bruce was still actively committed to his work in ceramics and jewelry metal.  He died in 2016.The scholarship fund was established in 2019 by donations from Bruce Duke’s daughters, Cathy Anderson of San Diego and Jodi Duke of Ohio, along with other donors.  After Bruce’s formal education, Bruce taught ceramics at San Joaquin Delta College where he inspired and mentored students, many of whom went on to achieve national prominence for their work in ceramics. These included Viola Frey, Bill Abright, Michael Lucero, David Phelps and Joe Mariscal, among others.

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