By Kathy Collins

Sabrina Downing of Valrico and Lillian Kraack of Lithia will be able to pursue their artistic dreams in college thanks to the scholarships they each received from Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA). Each girl received $2,500 as part of the TBBCA Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarship Program.

Downing graduated from Blake High School in June and will attend the University of South Florida this fall. She will pursue a double major in dance and interdisciplinary natural sciences. “Dance is the major I always wanted to pursue, but I also have a love for science,” said Downing. “After I graduate, I intend to dance professionally and then go back to school and pursue a Master’s degree in a science field.”

Downing has been dancing since she was three years old. She danced at America’s Ballet School and the Tampa City Ballet II (pre-professional, non-profit) under the direction of Paula Nunez and Osmany Montano. At Blake, she received instruction from Albena Arnaudova and Kelly Rayl-McCormick.

Downing has performed in four productions of The Nutcracker including one at the Mahaffey Theatre with the Moscow Ballet in 2013.

Kraack, the daughter of Mitsie Kraack, owner of TADA, graduated from Newsome High School in June. She will pursue a Bachelor of Music from Oklahoma City University. Kraack is a singer who has performed with TADA, the Newsome High School Chamber Choir and the Elite Show Choir. She has taken voice lessons from Katy Decker.

Kraack chose Oklahoma City University because of its program which is based around theory and music skills rather than performance.

Kraack said, “I love everything about singing and performing. It is so thrilling and exciting. There is something so special about being able to stand up in front of people and simultaneously entertain and inspire them to feel.”

High School juniors and seniors from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties are invited to apply for the scholarship each year. Six students are awarded $2,500 scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition. Visit tbbca.org.