Coppin State student awarded Open Society Institute Fellowship

Published Friday, February 27th, 2015

Shawn Burnett recognized for Walk of ART.

Coppin State student, Shawn Burnett has been awarded an Open Society Institute fellowship for his program, Walks of ART.

The Open Society Institute (OSI) - Baltimore Community, founded in 1998 by philanthropist George Soros was created as a tool to understand and solve pervasive issues facing urban communities. Each year, the Open Society Institute selects up to 10 individuals to “implement innovative projects” to improve the life of Baltimore City's underserved populations. The committee focuses on individuals who generally seek to address addiction, incarceration and barriers to success “inside and outside of the classroom.”

Burnett’s mission with Walks of ART is to create a “positive impact on the cognitive development, emotional health and social lives of underserved youth in Baltimore City through arts education, recreation and mentoring.”

Creative, visual and performing arts were a way for Burnett to express himself. Often, an out-of-the-box thinker, Burnett credits his mother for not stifling that creative energy.

Along the way, Burnett met other youth with similar interest and their parents who were looking for ways to harness and develop their kids’ creativity. Walks of ART is an opportunity for Burnett to create experiences for others that mirror those of his youth. Read more about the inspiration behind Walks of ART: SHAWN BURNETT - OPEN SOCIETY

Today, Walks of ART employs trained artists to teach youth in grades k-12, as well as creative platforms for more established artists to showcase their craft.

For Burnett, life is not just art. A non-profit leadership and political science major, Shawn credits his experiences at Coppin State with grant writing skills, art appreciation and generally honing his business acumen. He names instructors, Garey Hyatt and Tenyo Pearl with shaping and molding his mindset and preparing him for his future.

Burnett says social science professor John Hudgins helped him become more aware of social issues. That awareness has lead to involvement in other grassroots efforts.

When asked about his long terms goals, Burnett say he wants to complete his degree, perhaps pursue an interest in law, and maybe even become a civil servant. His overall goal is to combine all of the things he loves and learned and bring a different mindset to business as usual.