Toronto Teen, 17, Says She’s ‘In Shock’ After Getting $4.1 Million In Scholarship Offers


At just 17 years old, Jane Forrest says she’s always known that art was her calling.

“I knew I wanted to make things when I was younger, and art had always been the easiest way for me to do that,” Forrest told CTV News Toronto.

It was a family trip to New York City when Forrest was just a child that opened her eyes to the power of paintings.

“I was in [the Museum of Modern Art] for the first time, and I walked into this room and saw this Jackson Pollock painting – and it was unreal to me as a child,” she said. “And in that moment, I didn’t realize the impact art could make on people – and that was kind of the transformational moment where as a child, I knew I had to dedicate my life to this.”

Forrest says she spent five months working on her application to the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA).

“The school told me about twenty-ish pieces, and I was just trying to make everything I could. So I did a lot of paintings, photography, sculpture – I got paint all over my bedroom floor, and it was just a mess of making stuff,” she said. “I brought in about 40 pieces.”


Accepted to ESA, Forrest has made her mark as an art student over the past several years.

“It’s really a place for impossible things to become possible.”

But Forrest also says the school has made its mark on her as well.

“It’s been really intense. Like I did miss out on the typical high school experience, but I have no regrets doing that. It’s just been a place where I’ve been around really amazing people, and they’ve made me such a better artist and such a better person,” she said.

The school also allowed her to dream big when it came to pursuing her post-secondary education, and as she did in her application to ESA, Forrest put in the work applying to more schools than most students.

“It was 62 in total,” Forrest says with a smile. “In mostly the US, about 10 in Canada, and some in Europe as well.”

As the acceptances began rolling in, so too did the scholarship offers.

“I remember the first scholarship coming in, and I thought, ‘How is this possible, this is crazy,’ and it just kept going,” she said.

Forrest says she and her mother created a spreadsheet to keep track of the offers, acceptances, and scholarships. They were surprised when the scholarship total kept growing, eventually hitting $4.1 million.

“I’m still kind of in shock, like again, I never thought something like this would happen.”

Officials at the school say Forrest’s work ethic is what’s made her successful.

“Jane just did more than we’ve ever had anyone do previously,” said Matthew Varey, the head of contemporary art at Etobicoke School for the Arts.

“She applied to more schools, she got in touch with more representatives, she sent more e-mails, she made more paintings, she spent more hours making the work, and that’s really the crux of it. She followed the same plan many of the Grade 12s do – she just did more of everything.”

Along with the multiple offers of acceptance and financial assistance, Forrest was also faced with a choice of which school to pick.

“It was a really hard decision for me. I received three full tuition scholarship offers to schools in the U.S., but my dream school for the past three years has always been the Cooper Union in New York City, and I was accepted – and I did receive a really high scholarship,” Forrest said.

And as for what advice she’d give other young students who hope to find such fantastic financial opportunities as they apply to post-secondary institutions, Forrest says to keep at it.

“If you’re lucky like me and really early in life you got to find the thing that you love, and the thing that makes you feel connected to people, you gotta spend your time doing that,” she said.

“There are going to be moments where you question if it’s right, but if you love it, it’s going to be right. And you’ve got to dedicate your time to that. And you gotta find the people that care about that thing too – just as much as you – and that’s what’s going to help you succeed as artists and humans.”



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