Three N.C. A&T Students Tapped for DreamWorks’ Animation, HBCU 20x20’S Fellowship Program

By Markita C. Rowe / 05/03/2023 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science and Technology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 3, 2023) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University junior visual arts and media design student Briana Ballentine is one of three students from the university selected by DreamWorks Animation and HBCU 20x20 to participate in the new LAUNCH: HBCU Fellowship Program.

The Durham, North Carolina, native from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) and graphic design chair for Richard B. Harrison Players joined 14 students from historically Black colleges and universities for a paid eight-week curriculum of various workshops, courses and speaker series that aim to open the many paths to a career in animation.

Junior visual arts major Laila Rahman-Latta from CAHSS and junior computer graphics technology major Cameron Salisbury from the College of Science and Technology also represented N.C. A&T as fellows.

“When I was accepted, it felt like a dream come true,” said Ballentine. “I have wanted to pursue the field of animation ever since I was in middle school and to be allowed to learn the ins and outs of the animation industry from extraordinary people of DreamWorks is something my younger self would never have thought possible. Not only am I elated and grateful to be a part of this program, but I am excited for what the future holds.”

“Being able to say I participated as a freshman in a fellowship with a company that produced so many childhood staples is truly an honor,” said Salisbury. “I am extremely grateful to everyone that I have met along this journey. I’ve been pushed to think outside the box and create opportunities.  Seeing representation within the media industry nurtured the creative nerdy Black girl in me and made me feel my dreams aren’t as far-fetched as I thought.”

Roymieco Carter, associate professor and director of A&T’s Visual Arts Program, said the opportunity also was a great fit for Rahman-Latta, who he describes as “a creative force.

“Her love for expression and creativity are infectious,” he said. “She can change the energy of a creative team with a simple phrase or suggestion. She is well on her way to becoming a celebrated creative professional.”

Fellows had the opportunity to take courses such as “How to Build Your Brand,” “Finding Your Identity in the Workplace,” and “Achieving Diversity on Screen,” as they enhanced the soft and hard skills needed to be successful in launching their professional careers.

They also received a stipend from the studio, continued building their professional networks, and will have the opportunity to apply and interview for DreamWorks’ Internship Program or open positions within the company.

“DreamWorks strives to introduce and carve a path for Black students and we found the perfect partner to create a meaningful fellowship program with HBCU 20x20,” said Rabi Abedin, DreamWorks Animation’s manager of Early Career Programs & Diversity Outreach. “LAUNCH will continue DreamWorks ongoing commitment to eliminate barriers in animation for the Black community, and we believe that this program will create impactful opportunities for everyone involved.”

For more information about the program, visit https://hbcu20x20.org/launch-hbcu-fellowship-program.

Contributor: Jamie Crockett, science writer

Media Contact Information: mcrowe@ncat.edu

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