Testimony from students who attended the A2RU Student Summit as part of the DI Fellows Program group in Cincinnati

DI Fellows Program Group in Cincinnati

Abigail Rickabaugh 
Studio Arts

My name is Abigail Rickabaugh and I am an undergraduate student at Kent State University. I study Studio Arts with a concentration in Fine Art Photography and Print Media, with a minor in Photo-Illustration. For a weekend I traveled to Cincinnati with a few other students to attend the 2020 A2RU emerging creatives conference.

I have been to Cincinnati many times before to visit family, but I experienced the city in a whole new light during these four days. I learned of the history and racial background of the city through lectures, museums, and creative workshops. It was surprising how quickly I became such great friends with the people in my small group. We were five strangers to each other and left with five new amazing friends. It is interesting that when you are forced to talk about such deep topics in such a short period of time it really pushes you to think of these concepts in a unique way.

In our project, my group decided to talk about the homelessness and how to resolve that crisis. Something that really impacted me as an artist was pushing myself conceptually and thinking about topics I would usually stray away from. I was pushed to incorporate social justice in my art, and this gave me a new appreciation for art. It was then I realized I could create pieces to help make a difference in the world. I look forward to incorporating these topics in my photography and other art. I am so glad I was able to have this experience and I hope to be able to attend again in the future!


Ray Yang
Senior Engineering Technology

My name is Ray Yang, I am a Senior Engineering Technology major at Kent State University. However, I graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ High School program for music performance.

A2ru’s February summit in Cincinnati provided me an opportunity to further develop and explore a part of me that I thought I had left behind in North Carolina.

Through A2ru, I was able to connect with other creative students to address social injustices in today’s society. In Cincinnati, we were met with several workshops and keynote presentations discussing social injustices based on Race, Wealth, Marginalization, and Sexuality.

As a student of engineering, I did not receive prior exposure to most of the subject matter outside of the news, and personal injustices. Through the workshops, I was exposed to situations and concepts that made me uncomfortable and left me uncertain about my place in society.

However, that is exactly what I needed. I needed to be exposed to injustice, to homelessness, to poverty. One cannot go through their whole life unaware of the history of their home, or the issues that others face. Through discussions, keynotes, and the work I did with my group, I was forced to face the reality we live in – and was able to express my concern by working with people I had not expected to cooperate with. By some magic coincidence, I was even reconnected to a fellow UNCSA alumni.

While I still do not have a firm grasp on how to use my creative talent for good, I believe that my work here is opening a new chapter in my life. I’d like to thank a2ru for the eye-opening opportunity.

  • students gather around a chair
  • students holding a frame
  • students around a table
  • group photo of students
POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 2:24pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 29, 2020 - 12:46pm