Hometown: Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Major: Art with concentrations in photography and graphic design
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, Photography
Internships: WCSU Publications & Design photography and production assistant to Peggy Stewart (2013-15), Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum show-change assistant to artist Amelie Chabannes, March 2013
Honors and Awards: Dean’s List, graduating cum laude, recipient of W. Jason & Ellen Hancock Scholarship during the 2013–14 academic year
Erin Manion says continuing her education at Western was ultimately a very simple choice. "I visited several other college campuses, unsure of what exactly I should be looking for. I only knew what was missing when I toured WCSU’s Midtown campus. A sense of comfort and community assured me that my search was over."
Why she decided to study photography and graphic design were also very clear to her. "It’s easy to underestimate the scale of opportunity that becomes available through artistic ability and practice. Before and during my time at Western, I’ve found excitement in looking for ways to apply the things I’ve learned in a multitude of settings – just for fun, within my work and most importantly, as a tool to learn more about myself and about other individuals. My concentrations in art feel as though they were decided for me long before I made it to college."
While many focus on the impressive facilities in Western's new Visual and Performing Arts Center, Manion is quick to point out that it's the faculty who played a major role in her education. "The WCSU Art Department’s fearless leader, Catherine Vanaria, has played some seriously integral roles in my life for the past five years. She has served as an adviser, a professor and for all intents and purposes, a therapy counselor to me, depending on my needs as a student and a person. Cathy is an absolute warrior; her guidance, confidence and support throughout my successes and struggles are something that I’m not sure I’d be walking across a stage in a cap and gown this May without," Manion says. "The Art Department at WCSU has no shortage of impressive and genuine art professors. Individuals like David Skora, Ken Scaglia, Plonia Nixon, Jack Tom and Ed Little, to name a few, are never too busy to consult, inspire and push their students until they get where they need to be. These people have made an incredibly significant impact on me in terms of how I work and most of all, how I view the world. I am very lucky to have known and learned from them."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Manion says, "The entirety of living on-campus within a rather unfamiliar group of people is probably what I’ll remember most. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life during my time here; the cost of attendance can’t hold a candle to the value of a gift like that."
After graduation, Manion intends to hold her position as a gallery assistant in New York. "Thus far it’s been a very educational and rewarding experience," she says. "Ultimately though, my goal is to work within nonprofits or volunteer my time and abilities where they will be best used to the advantage of others. I have been fortunate enough to know a home, good health, an education, employment and a strong community. Time spent working for a socially or environmentally beneficial organization will never be time wasted."
Manion’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “Throughout your years in college, you are going to have moments of doubt or confusion or stress – if you’re lucky, a fun cocktail of all three! It might be hard to see things clearly during these difficulties, but remember your head. Remember your worth – your capacity for knowledge and growth. You are remarkably important and you will surprise yourself with what you can do in this ultimately too-short period of time.”