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Decorated mortarboard

Through an artist's window

Jonathan Fritsch instinctively knew there was more to making a living than the mundane jobs he worked with his high school diploma. He also knew that college would be part of the process to get there. With Corning Community College practically next door, he decided to explore his options.

“I tiptoed into college,” said Jonathan. “I was a few years older than most college students and wasn’t sure college life would be a good fit. As it turned out, my worries were unnecessary. CCC was a good fit. I found my future.”

Jonathan’s success is grounded in his openness to try new things and his ability to see the opportunities in front of him. CCC was close, and with his hectic life, college needed to be convenient. To be worthwhile, though, college also needed to open doors. After noticing his aptitude for writing, Jonathan’s first composition teacher suggested he work in the Writing Center. Without hesitation, Jonathan secured employment (and a mentor – professor Kim Koval) in the Writing Center and fell in love with teaching.

“Watching fellow students make the transition from being nervous and scared of putting two words on paper to being confident in their ability to write an essay was incredibly fulfilling,” said Jonathan.

And then he met CCC’s Professor David Higgins and his future became clear. Noting that he aspired to be “just like Dave,” Jonathan declared a major and put the wheels in motion to realize his goal: becoming an art teacher.

“Professor Higgins and the way he taught inspired me,” said Jonathan, who transferred from CCC to Mansfield University to finish his bachelor’s degree. “I knew that if I worked hard, I could become a successful art teacher.”

Today, Jonathan teaches about 160 students at a Hmong charter school in Wisconsin, where he was raised. Using personal stories to drive home points with his students, Jonathan’s goal is not to create a cohort of artists. Rather, he strives to help students use art to discover their own passion.

“The art projects in my class are designed to reflect life,” said Jonathan. “We don’t make pretty pictures, and we don’t make holiday cards for parents. The work done in my class encourages reflection on life questions, things like self-identity, goals, values, and interests. When my students find their own passion, especially if the art projects helped surface it, we’ve all succeeded.”