The AVIXA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2022 scholarships. The program’s mission is to encourage and enable students from diverse backgrounds who show great potential to pursue careers in the audiovisual field. Each winner is awarded $2,500.
“At the AVIXA Foundation, we are committed to building pathways for talent development of future AV industry leaders, and within its mission, the scholarship program is very important,” said Cristiano Mazza, CTS, AVIXA Foundation board president and product director at Grupo Discabos. “Scholarships provide rising professionals with means to support their dreams. This was a year with many impressive applications, and we are thrilled to welcome the winners into our community. We anticipate bright futures for them!”
The AVIXA Foundation’s elAVate Scholarship supports the growth of women and gender equality in the AV industry. The 2022 recipient is Madison Pierce, a sophomore at Belmont University who is currently enrolled in the audio engineering technology program with business administration and physics minors. She is also part of the Women in Audio group on the university’s campus. Pierce believes that music can make the world a happier place and bring people together, which is why she focuses on equipment design. She says that an important part of achieving these goals is diversity.
The Michael Vergauwen Scholarship honors the legacy of the late Michael Vergauwen, former COO of AVI Systems and long-time AVIXA board member. This year’s recipient is Faith Pierce, who is enrolled in the Berklee College of Music graduate program. She focuses on music business, production, songwriting and film scoring. Her hope is to be either an audio engineer in a recording studio or a re-recording mixer for TV and film. Pierce is committed to always listening, learning, and advocating for historically marginalized communities by encouraging inclusion and representation in the industry.
The Mosaic Scholarship was conceived by AVIXA’s Diversity Council in support of further inclusivity within the global AV industry. It seeks to shine a light on young adults whose experience, background and thinking will positively influence the future of the AV community. Thanks to donations by Legrand and Exertis Almo, the AVIXA Foundation was able to award four scholarships this year.
Recipient Nathan Erthal is working toward his master’s degree in music engineering technology at the University of Miami. He won the silver award for the AES Saul Walker student design competition. Erthal is interested in developing better and new ways for society to experience audio. He aspires to give back by dedicating his work to the audio industry while fostering more industry diversity.
A Mosaic Scholarship was also awarded to Akash Mungra, who is studying software engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a leader of the university’s oSTEM club, which provides opportunities and exposure to LGBTQ+ participants interested in STEM. This past summer, he interned with the Travelers insurance broadcast and AV engineering team. He plans on paving the way to success in the AV industry for others with similar backgrounds to him by showing them the versatility of AV technologies. He hopes to keep the AV industry bustling with divergent thinking by welcoming a wide range of backgrounds.
Mosaic Scholarship recipient AJ Panepinto is a freshman at Full Sail University majoring in film. He has a passion for telling stories behind the scenes and spent six years taking video production classes in middle school and high school. Panepinto would like to contribute to the industry by becoming a videographer and postproduction editor. He loves learning about new technology and being a part of an industry where there’s a place for everyone. Panepinto wants to encourage others, mentor future filmmakers and shine a light on the stories of those who feel their voice is being silenced.
Recipient Katharina Sawatzky is a freshman at American University. She plans on devoting her time to physics and audiovisual technology classes to gain knowledge of the science that goes into media development. Sawatzky has a few years of experience running the audio in community theater and mentoring other young women. Sawatzky has worked hard to become a good leader and technician, not despite who she is as a person, but because of it. She believes that flexibility and experience are more important than ever in an industry with quick technical and ideological advancements.
This scholarship program is part of the AVIXA Foundation’s initiative to support workforce development in the ProAV industry. The Foundation supports workforce development by creating awareness of careers in the global AV industry; enabling potential and emerging professionals through skills training, scholarships, and scholastic support; and developing a bridge between the industry and those who want to become AV professionals.
The Foundation offers many resources for students interested in careers in AV, including student memberships to AVIXA, which provide training and CTS exam application discounts, a guide for setting up school tech crews, and more. Visit www.avixa.org/avixa-
For AV companies interested in student outreach, the AVIXA Foundation has a comprehensive AV Industry Workforce Development Toolkit that outlines how to jumpstart recruitment of new talent, from engaging with schools and community groups to creating internships. The toolkit is free to download at www.avixa.org/avixa-