Lana Kozak ’19 (Ukraine) could not pass up a rare unconditional offer from University of the Arts London, one of the world’s top schools for art and design, despite receiving offers from two more prestigious art schools: University for the Creative Arts (with a scholarship included) and Goldsmiths, University of London. (Lana’s classmate and fellow standout artist Stanislava Kirsanova will also be attending UAL.)
Lana, who speaks Ukrainian, Russian, German, and English and scored 36 points on her Bilingual IB Diploma Assessment, will seek a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design to help her decide which area of the arts she wants to concentrate in. She considered pursuing a degree in Psychology throughout the course of her three years at TASIS but eventually decided she couldn’t possibly live without art in her life. “I always have the urgent need to express myself, and art allows me to do that in so many shapes and forms,” she said.
Lana commended IB Coordinator and UK University Counselor Howard Stickley for providing invaluable guidance throughout the college application process and helping her goals become a reality. She also had high praise for her two primary academic mentors: Visual Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes and Science Teacher Peg Crockett:
- On Mr. Dukes: “He will always have a special place in my heart. He has guided me since 10th grade and helped me navigate the process of applying to art schools. I was a girl who was scared to paint because of the way others might see my art. Mr. Dukes made me believe in myself as a young artist and helped me grow as an individual.”
- On Ms. Crockett: “I had the opportunity to not only be her student but also her advisee. Ms. Crockett taught me self-confidence, and she is a really important role model in my life. She was always honest with us and our cookie-and-tea time twice a week really helped me to unwind and let go of the IB stress. She was always extremely supportive and is an incredible teacher. Her way of teaching will forever stay in my head. All of the stories she invented about the chemical reactions in biology will stay with me for a long time, and I got the most from her lectures.”
And what does Lana ultimately hope to achieve with her degree? “I have big dreams,” she said. “Being surrounded by so many different cultures as a boarding student at TASIS and being a part of the Culture Salon has made me aware of the importance of engaging in transnational conversations. The topic of globalization has fueled my biggest ambition—to open a gallery in my hometown (Lviv, Ukraine) and create a cultural exchange project that will give emerging artists a platform to exhibit their work in the gallery or through an online platform. I hope that one day this initiative will facilitate dialogue between Western and Ukrainian artists further and contribute meaningfully to the development of Ukraine’s artistic and cultural scene.” (Lana discussed her dreams in greater detail in this episode of the TASIS podcast.)
Lana credits TASIS’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme® for preparing her well for all aspects of university life. “The IB helped me develop critical thinking, time management, and research and writing skills while also pushing me to gain volunteering and internship experience. For instance, my volunteering experience included organizing a trip to Kenya last year to help the WISER girls get a better education. We’ve also been helping refugees in Lugano—helping them feel at home, playing with the children, and teaching English and Italian. The IB required strong organizational skills in order to manage my school studies, stay on top of my course assignments, and continue with my extracurricular activities, so I am well-prepared for my university life.”
Opportunities provided by the School both in and out of the classroom helped Lana develop into a more well-rounded artist. She sang in the choir, tried her hand at theater, created short films, visited many museums on school trips, and greatly enjoyed her two Academic Travel trips to Venice, where she and other student artists sketched the city, saw many exhibitions, and took a glass-blowing class.
“The TASIS Arts Program allowed me to explore various mediums and techniques,” she said. “Among other opportunities, I’ve tried techniques such as etching, have explored ceramics, and even had a chance to stretch myself in theater. In 10th grade, I played our school founder, Mrs. Fleming, in a special 60th-anniversary production of MCF: What a Life!, and the energy between the actors and the passion they had inspired me to continue the following year. In 11th grade, I was a makeup artist and dress designer in Annie get your Gun and played Queen Hippolyta (while still serving as a dress designer) in A Midsummer Night's Dream.”
Lana was also part of the TASIS Speaker Series Committee and very much enjoyed interacting with professional photographers, artists, journalists, writers, and poets who have made major contributions to their fields. She was particularly impressed with Susan Middleton, an American photographer who spoke about her work with rare and endangered animal species and inspired Lana to pursue a photography project in which she experimented with projection and
"I was surrounded by so many ambitious, multicultural students that it couldn't have been more perfect for me as an artist."
But above all else, Lana was inspired by the TASIS community. “I was surrounded by so many ambitious, multicultural students that it couldn't have been more perfect for me as an artist,” she said. “The passion that people hold in their hearts—whether it is for art, theater, math, economics, or anything else—inspired me, and I felt a desire to express myself.”
Lana’s admiration for her fellow students only grew when she had the honor to serve as a Dorm Proctor in Monticello for her final two years at TASIS. “This allowed me to establish a stronger connection with the community and serve as a role model to the other girls,” she said. “I was able to make an impact on the community, and I can't express in words how much I will miss everyone. The family we built was incredible.”
Though she was most inspired by the community, it is the TASIS campus that Lana thinks she will ultimately miss most. “Waking up to an extraordinary view of the mountains every morning is not something I took for granted,” she said. “I will also miss the bench near the library, where I sat every day with my friends discussing our days, homework, projects, and sometimes just memes. I will even miss the line in the dining hall, as it was a great opportunity for me to chat with my fellow students and joke around. I will miss my corner in the Art Studio, which is decorated with artwork and pictures that inspire me and was where I spent most of my time. I will miss everything about TASIS. All those little things are what made it special.”