When Peninsula High School senior Riane Mantz applied for the Stand Out Prom scholarship – a program designed to not only provide the ultimate prom experience for a deserving winner, but also provide guidance for aspiring artists – she did not believe she had much of a chance. The directors of the program felt differently, and surprised the aspiring fashion designer at school with the good news. “I’m pretty shocked still,” Mantz said. “There are some amazing artists who applied for the scholarship, and I’m so grateful they think that I’m the best applicant.”
The program seeks to find a unique young woman in Pierce County who stands out for all the right reasons – in school, in the community and in the creative arts. This year’s winner receives a $1,000 scholarship to apply to post-high school education, along with a day-of-prom experience including hair and makeup by Che’mel Salon, a photo session by c.pelland photography, custom jewelry by Ada Rosman and a graduation party hosted in part by TLB Events.
Mantz hopes to pursue a career in design and sees her fashion as a way to express herself. “I feel like we have this canvas as a body, so why settle for something that is socially acceptable when there are so many possibilities out there?” she said.
Stand Out Prom was founded by women who pursued their own passions in the creative arts and use their own experiences to help mentor the next generation of artists. Today, the program is designed to help local young women pursue their own dreams by providing them with unique experiences along with the financial backing to help them pursue careers in creative arts.
“We are trying to give a little more voice to women that it’s okay to be creative and pursue your dreams,” said program co-founder Melissa Anderson. Anderson, who owns and operates Che’mel Salon, is happy to lend her own skills and talents to the program while supporting aspiring artists.
“This year’s winner is such an amazing young lady,” Anderson added. “When we met her, we saw she had this heart about her, and is a truly kind person who could really use the help.”
Although the scholarship funding is an important aspect of the package, co-founder Christy Pelland is especially proud of Stand Out Prom’s success in building relationships and helping young women start out on the right track. Pelland herself struggled for years before her photography business picked up. “I contacted many photographers at the time, and if I even got a response back, it was negative,” she said. “It was interesting to me that so few people had a heart for the community. I always thought that if I ever made it, I would help other photographers if I ever had a chance.”
The program has already been an important confidence-booster for Mantz, who plans to attend community college next year and continue working on her designs in the process. “This whole experience has proven to me that I should believe in myself more,” she said. “I’ve always had the mindset of not being good enough, but this shows me that maybe I should look at my talents more closely than I do.”