Each year, the College of Arts & Letters presents two Varg-Sullivan Endowed Graduate Awards to graduate students for their outstanding achievement in the arts or letters. This year’s winners are Nicolei Gupit, Outstanding Achievement in the Arts recipient, and Giovanni Salazar Calvo, Outstanding Achievement in the Letters recipient.
Paul Varg and Richard Sullivan are former Deans of the College of Arts & Letters who dedicated their professional lives to excellence in the college. This award endowment was established in their name. Recipients are selected based on best performance/exhibition at a national or international event in the arts and best presentation at a national or international event or best published article in the letters.
Outstanding Achievement in the Arts
Nicolei Gupit completed her B.A. in Studio Art at Williams College in Massachusetts and is an MFA Candidate in Studio Art and Graduate Teaching Assistant within the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD). She has a long record of solo and group exhibitions held in venues all over the world, including Taiwan, South Korea, New York, Italy, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan.
Gupit has earned many awards for her work, including the Most Inspiring Visual Art Award at MSU’s 2021 Social Justice Art Festival, the Elizabeth Charles Emerging Artist Scholarship from the Lansing Art Gallery, the Summer Support Fellowship from AAHD, and the Research and Professional Development Award from AAHD.
She earned a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and has used this certification to teach English at the Kaohsiung Korean International School & Schoolhouse Language Academy in Taiwan and at the Everest Academy & MapleBear Jukjeon in South Korea.
“I am honored to have been granted the Varg-Sullivan Award. With the generous support from the College of Arts & Letters, I am determined to make significant strides toward a successful career in the arts,” Gupit said. “There is a growing need to address socioeconomic, racial, and political issues within our communities and the nation at large. Through my artistic practice, I aim to contribute by bringing them to the fore. It is amazing to be recognized for my achievements, and I am truly grateful for the opportunities like the Varg-Sullivan to help me pursue my goals.”
Outstanding Achievement in the Letters
Giovanni Salazar Calvo began his Ph.D. in Hispanic Cultural Studies in 2015 and has been a Spanish Language Teaching Assistant since then.
He received an M.A. in Spanish from Western Michigan University, a B.A. in Classical Philology from the University of Costa Rica and has been a Spanish Instructor for more than a decade.
“The [Varg-Sullivan Award] represents honor, motivation, and responsibility. For me, these three pillars of academic practice are a reminder that the enjoyment of any achievement translates into more impetus towards my goals,” Salazar Calvo said. “This award means gratefulness towards my family and the members of our academic community who have lent me a hand in my professional growth.”
Salazar Calvo has published his work through Letras (Unversity of San Marcos in Perú), which is one of the world’s premier peer-reviewed scholarly journals in Latin American literary studies.
In 2019, he won the Dr. Johannes Sachse Memorial Award from the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, which is given to graduate students performing duties in an outstanding manner. He also received the Newberry Renaissance Consortium Grant from the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Tinker Field Research Grant from MSU.