The Aspire Higher Art Scholarship

This award exists to perpetuate the memory of Krista Weller Burns by honoring talented RI individuals who wish to pursue a life in the arts. Krista believed in the magic of art to create joy and make meaning of the human condition. She was passionate about music, film, theater and dance and was a budding actor, screenwriter and creative culinary goddess. She aspired to make a difference through her artistic talents having experienced the power of art to empower, heal, inspire, soothe, excite and bring people together in significant ways.

Passing so young, she left behind all she had hoped to accomplish as an artist. Sending her younger sister a note of encouragement during a challenging time, she wrote, “We are driven to succeed, not for fame or fortune…well… maybe a little:) … but for the sake of creating change… of sticking it out until our stories are told and we have nothing left to say.” 

Inspired by Krista’s compassionate spirit, her wonderful joy for life, her thirst for learning, and her zeal to set seemingly impossible goals, we established The Aspire Higher Art Scholarship.

It is a fitting tribute, as while she was busy pursuing her dreams in the arts, she willingly shared her talents to help and encourage others to do the same. “Reach for your dreams!” was her mantra. We can’t think of a better way to continue Krista’s story than by helping aspiring artists reach for their own dreams!

Scholarship Details & Qualifications

Applications are available by email. Send request to

Up to five $1,000 scholarships are awarded each year to qualified applicants chosen at the discretion of the Selection Committee.

1… Must be a RI High School graduating senior. (Homeschoolers are also eligible).

2… Must be planning a career in the arts in one of the eligible concentrations. (See note below).

3… Must be pursuing further college or workshop studies in the arts upon graduation from high school.

4… Must submit a completed application by April 1st.

NOTE: Art Concentrations: Performing Arts/Dance/Theater/Music… Film/Video/Animation/Gaming… Creative Writing/Screenwriting… Fine Arts/Painting/Illustration/Sculpture… Design/Product/Fashion/Jewelry/Graphic/Interior… Photography… Horticulture/Landscape Design… The Culinary Arts…

We have awarded 51 Aspire Higher Scholarships since our inception.
  • Scholarship

2019… $7250

Gibbs – NKHS, Danielle Dotter – CHSW, Gianno Pietro – EJCA,
Kayla Ribeiro – TAPA, Lauren Smith – CHSW, Samuel McCarthy – SKHS,
Yvonne Ramos – MHBW

2018… $8000

Aria Pegg – CWHS, Danielle Dotter – CHSW, Francis Ogunnubi – MET,
Jacob Simmons – EJCA, Jaelyn Chaffee – EWG, Jamie Cores – TAPA,
Kalin Froberg – NKHS, Kyle Valentine – EJCA, Marilyn Machon – NARR,
Riley Barrett – SKHS, Stacy Foley – EJCA

2017… $4000

Danielle Dotter – CHSW, Gabrielle Mattera – NKHS, Laura Wilson – JHS, Lea Fabre – EWG, Zoe Noel Goodwin – EJCA

2016… $5000

Alexander Santiago – TAPA

Brandon Harris – NKHS

Brooke Pagliarini – EWG

Danielle Dotter – CHSW

Elena Micelli – EWG

Grace Vargo-Willeford – CHS

Justin Farmer – JMWALSH

Matthew Knight – WVETS

Timothy McPartlen – EJCA

Tyler Nordin – WVETS

2015… $3000

Anthony Biagetti – EJCA

Amber Maldonado – EWG

Charissa Menard – JMWALSH

Jake Clarke – NARR

Natalie Toland – NKHS

Omer Al Azzawi – EJCA

2014… $3000
Ashley Diaz – EJCA

Casey Butler – NARR

Emilie Simonini – EWG

Ethan Marble – NKHS

Kelly Robertson – EWG

Madison Loomis – NARR

2013… $2000
Alexandre Saylor – EJCA

Emily Rondeau – EJCA

Michael Carnevale – EWG

Victoria Albin – NKHS

2012… $500
Michael Grenier – NKHS


CHS-Chariho High School

CHSW-Cranston High School West

EJCA-Exeter Job Corps Academy

EWG-Exeter/West Greenwich High School

JHS-Johnston High School

JMWALSH- JM Walsh School for The Arts

NARR-Narragansett High School

MET- The Met High School

MHBW-Mt Hope Bristol/Warren High

NKHS-North Kingstown High School

SKHS-South Kingstown High School

TAPA-Trinity Academy of Performing Arts

WVETS-Warwick Vets Memorial High


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