Portfolio Day at Miami's DASH School Draws Top Art Recruiters

Portfolio Day at Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High is sort of like a science fair for art and design students. Instead of explaining their research to judges, the kids from DASH explain their work to college recruiters, with scholarships on the line.

Everything from fashion creations to video installations to paintings, drawings, and designs for a new Ford Bronco were all on display Thursday inside the historic Moore furniture building across Northeast 2nd Avenue from the school.

“This is a day where I feel like the mother of 540 students, this is a day where we stand back because we’ve worked with these students for three and a half years, we’ve done our best, now it’s up to them to broker their future,” said Dr. Stacey Mancuso, the principal of DASH.

This year, the annual Portfolio Day drew 74 college recruiters to DASH, from the best art schools in the world, such as the Rhode Island School of Design. How much talent is in the room?

“A ton,” said Lucy King, a recruiter from RISD. “They’re amazing, the work is so diverse and interesting and everyone’s expressing their own unique perspective as an artist or designer, it’s really exciting to be here.”

It’s a thrilling time for the seniors at DASH, too.

“It’s so exciting, it’s pretty nerve-wracking because there’s so many colleges, but it’s exciting!” said Johmaris Ramos, a DASH student, standing next to her classmate, Victoria Gerson, who added, “It’s like the day we’ve been working for so I’m really excited that it’s finally here!”

Most of the students showing off their work will end up with scholarships to study their art in college – and we’re not talking small change here.

“We usually range around 15 to 17 million in offers,” said Mancuso, “for 124 seniors.”

For example: one student, Ruben Zamora-Vargas, who designs eye-catching dresses, won an eye-opening full scholarship to a fashion school in Paris. The classmate who models his creations, Kimani Austin-Reese, is running off to UCLA on a track scholarship to study architecture. Each is blazing a unique trail.

Fact is, if you’re good enough to get into DASH, which is a public school but only accepts the most exceptional talents, you can paint a brilliant future for yourself.

“We do what we do, we’re very different from any other school, and it works,” Mancuso said.

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