Art had always been a passion for Ann Danis, who decided to pursue a second career as a potter following her retirement after three decades as a Navy nurse.
Looking to expand her skills and knowledge, Danis was taking one class at a time from Green River Community College in pursuit of her associate degree in Fine Arts when she received some local support.
A Minerva Scholarship from the Gig Harbor Branch of the American Association of University Women awarded Danis, a Key Peninsula resident, a $3K scholarship to finish her degree. After two full-time quarters, Danis earned her AFA in August of last year.
“The scholarship really made a difference as far as being able to be serious about it and focus on it and get it done. It’s really nice,” she said. “People have complimented me that my stuff is just better now.”
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Danis sells her pottery at the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market, alongside the Minerva Scholarship booth run by Carol Robinson, a 12-year volunteer with the nonprofit.
The scholarship really made a difference as far as being able to be serious about it and focus on it and get it done. It’s really nice. People have complimented me that my stuff is just better now.
Ann Danis, potter and Minerva Scholarship recipient
“The Farmer’s Market seems like a good place (for outreach),” Robinson said. “I’ve known (market manager) Dale (Schultz) for many years and I appreciate what’s he’s trying to do.”
The Minerva Scholarship Fund was founded in 1991by three Gig Harbor women — Col. Sybil Mercer, Col. Florence Casey and Ruth Taylor — to help women within the Peninsula School District return to school after a interruption in their education.
“They don’t really focus on women coming out of high school and going into college, because there’s a lot of scholarships for them, but for women returning to college,” Danis explained. “I’m a retired nurse so this is a second career for me ... it just fit me perfectly.”
The scholarship deadline is July 1 and funding is available for women attending an accredited program, either undergraduate, graduate or vocational school. The organization is run entirely by volunteers, keeping overhead costs very low to allow the majority of donations to be put toward scholarships.
(Minerva) has really made a lot of difference in a lot of women’s lives and careers. I always wanted to be an artist and instead I did a practical thing when I was younger and became a nurse instead. Now I’m able to explore that other part of myself.
“We’ve given away lots of scholarships,” Robinson said. “Now is the season for applications.”
Having received support from Minerva, Danis encourages other women to consider applying for a scholarship and pursue their next step. Since finishing her associate degree, she is thinking of continuing her education with a bachelor’s degree.
“(Minerva) has really made a lot of difference in a lot of women’s lives and careers,” she said. “I always wanted to be an artist and instead I did a practical thing when I was younger and became a nurse. Now I’m able to explore that other part of myself.”
To see Danis’s work or for more information on the Minerva Scholarship Fund, stop by the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market booth from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, located at Peninsula Gardens, 5503 Wollochet Drive. Or visit the scholarship’s website at minervagigharbor.org.