Shelby Stephen

Art is 'beyond important'

Though college is usually the time students discover where their passions lie, freshman Shelby Stephen came to LaGrange College knowing exactly what she wants to do.

“Of all the things I’ve ever done, art’s always been the most important,” Shelby says.

Her earliest memory of having a knack for drawing was in pre-kindergarten, when her teacher praised her in front of the entire class for a large carrot she drew after they read the book “The Carrot Seed.” Children’s books had an early impact on her artistic side, including “The Rainbow Fish,” “The Happy Lion,” “The Very Hungry Catepillar” and anything by Dr. Seuss.
“I can see myself illustrating children’s books later in life,” she says. “I think without children’s books, I wouldn’t have developed as an artist. Illustrating children’s books would be my way of giving back, of inspiring someone else to become an artist.”

Shelby truly found her calling through her high school art teacher.

“If I ever had any doubts, she was the one to say, ‘You can do this. You have so much potential.’ She is a great teacher, a great mentor, and if it wasn’t for her, I don’t think any of this would have ever happened.”

Shelby says she chose LaGrange College over traditional art schools because it seemed to value her talent and progression as an artist. She says she also was extremely impressed by the quality of art at Lamar Dodd Art Center. The newly renovated facility has a permanent collection of more than 2,500 works, including ones by Rembrandt, Picasso, Rauschenberg and Willem de Kooning.

The freshman plans to major, of course, in art and design, and will minor in business.

“I feel like I need to major in business to prep myself for the artistic industry,” she says. “I think art and business go hand in hand.”

Shelby says she normally photographs her subject as a frame of reference and then enjoys experimenting with a variety of mediums, including charcoal, graphite, oil pastels and colored pencils.

For Shelby, art is “beyond important.”

“ For art to be the thing I do, the thing people know me for, that’s the best feeling for me,” she says. “To associate that with me, it’s very important. The day people don’t associate Shelby with art, that’s like, ‘Who am I?’ “

Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.