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Dani Cournoyer, 2019 Featured Graduate

Portrait of Dani Cournoyer

Dani Cournoyer began her college studies elsewhere, married and had a child on the way when she found the University of Southern Maine where she decided to complete her degree. For Cournoyer, who is originally from Reno, Nevada, school seemed to fit — financially and academically — with her goals as a rising artist. She earned Summa Cum Laude honors and will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Photography and Digital Art.

What led you to pursue your education at USM? Towards the end of my pregnancy, I took a leave of absence from school to have and be home with my son while my husband worked full-time. By the time Kal reached 6 months old, I was ready to go back to school. Realizing that I didn't love the program I was in at another school, I did some research and decided to transfer to USM. Financially, USM made a lot of sense for our family and it had a great art department that offered Photography and Digital Art, which was very exciting to me.

Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? Being part of USM's art department has changed my life. The department is a real community and everyone that I've met — peers, teachers, and staff alike — have made me feel known, cared about and supported. They've pushed me to think bigger but at the same time to be confident in my present work from process to interest.

What are your future plans? I'm hoping someday to continue my education. I've applied for scholarships to see if Grad school is even an option and if it is, I'm looking at low-residency programs because they will allow both my husband and me to work and support the family while I pursue more schooling.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank? I'd love to thank my husband and our parents. Their support is the only reason I've been able to commit so much time, energy, and passion towards what I love to do. My husband has held down the fort, working 12 hour shifts every weekend, so that I can go to school during the week and work in the summers. He works so hard to understand the art world that I love; he stays up late with me to review and critique images; he takes part in any and all of the photo shoots I want to do; he will sit and listen to my art history research, and he's not afraid to ask questions or challenge my ideas. I trust his insight and he makes me a better artist. But we're more than just a two-person team. Our parents have dedicated time every week to watch and love our son so that I can get my homework done and turned in on time. Thank you for showing me what it looks like to work hard and teaching me to do things with 100% effort, every time.