A Donor Who Believes in Power of Internships

Tyler Board of Visitors member Laurie Wagman believes in the power of connections that come from exposure to varied experiences.

The founder of American Theater Arts for Youth saw this firsthand over the five decades that she and her late husband, businessman Irvin J. Borowsky, built one of the finest collections of contemporary glass worldwide. “The masters had their teachers, and they, in turn, became influencers to the next generation of creatives,” Wagman said of the artists in her collection.

Nurturing such connections is one reason Wagman was pleased in 2022 to establish the Laurie Wagman Internship Award Fund, which provides a $2,000 stipend to students who obtain internships and assistantships during their time at Tyler.

“The work that is emerging from Tyler is very impressive,” said Wagman in a recent interview. She wants to ensure that Tyler students have the chance to explore their chosen careers and job opportunities within a professional environment while in college. The fund enables students to take nonprofit and art-related internships, which are often unpaid, to help cover tuition costs.

Wagman said the networking and connections that come from internship programs can clarify a student’s thinking about their chosen profession and carry them forward on their desired career paths.

“In art, as in life, steps that guide the future are, in fact, a series of connections and influences. Careers are built on experiences … a fusion of pursuits and passion that drive whole. Paid internships at Tyler recognize and respect the work and needs of emerging maker-artists. That’s why I’m so pleased to help Tyler provide a significant work-study program that links today’s students with their professional careers,” Wagman reflected.

Furthermore, she said, “It’s a great, great encouragement for students -- to be acknowledged in what you are doing.” Wagman also supports Tyler’s annual visiting artist and artist-in-residence series in glass, and the school’s glass studios are named in memory of her husband.

With 22 academic programs ranging from studio arts to architecture and environmental design, Tyler encourages students to complete at least one internship before graduation to facilitate career exploration and job marketability. The fund helps students spend time in a work environment within their area of study and opens doors for students who might not otherwise have access to such experiences.

In its first year, the fund supported six students in various disciplines, including printmaking, architecture, landscape architecture, painting and visual studies. For summer 2023, five other students will receive stipends during their unpaid internships.

Last year, painting major Ruby Perkins (BFA ’22) was able to secure a postgraduate apprenticeship at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, which allowed her to explore printmaking, while completing the final credits she needed to graduate in summer 2022.

"I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to learn in-depth about printing processes and bring that knowledge into other parts of my practice,” Perkins said in written feedback about the program. “Because of this award, I was able to cut down my hours at my job. I could focus on summer classes and this apprenticeship much more than I could have if I was working full time."

Architecture graduate student Margaret How (MArch ’25) said the award helped her land her first internship related to her major, at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

“Most architectural internships are unpaid, and it would not have been possible for me to work there if the Laurie Wagman Award Fund had not provided me with the opportunity to fund my tuition while working,” explained How, who has entered the first summer of graduate coursework in the 4+1 accelerate master's degree program in architecture.

“I was able to learn a lot about development from the perspective of a community organization. My experience included meetings with different stakeholders, supporting facilitation of community engagement, and learning about the timeline of project approval," she said.

Image: Laurie Wagman in her home with the glass piece Blue Spray, by Harvey Littleton.