AUSTIN, TEXAS - Inside the Mexic-Arte Museum, a room full of people sat with anticipation, watching a blue screen and waiting for First Lady Michelle Obama to come on and present the 18th annual National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.
"There are kids all over this country, all over the world who think that places like this are not for them. So they're intimidated by it. And it defines the limits of who they can be. Well we want to change that. We work to chage that," Obama said.
Eduardo and Rosie Rocha, who are sitting in the museum watching, share that mission. It's why they seized the opportunity to move their family of five from Laredo to Austin in 2014.
"It's been amazing," Rosie Rocha said to someone in the room. "You don't imagine the opportunities that Kassey got."
Unlike her engineer father and computer-analyst mother, Kassey Rocha, the couple's middle daughter, loves art. So when the family moved to Austin, she started participating in the Mexic-Arte Museum's after school program "Screen It".
"It's a form of print making called screen printing where we actually make the design," explained Stephanie Sandoval, Education and Development Associate for the museum. "And screen print on different t-shirts or anything else, tote bags."
The process can be challenging so the program teaches patience, builds confidence, equips the students with a new skill set and opens the door to art.
"It's a program that otherwise they wouldn't have access to art because art is sometimes a privilege and sometimes, you know, it's been cut from our school budgets," said Mexic-Arte Museum Executive Director Sylvia Orozcho.
The program was created in 2009 and each year helps 2,100 students. For the past few years the staff at the museum have applied for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nations's highest honor for an after-school arts and humanities program, but never won.
That changed in 2016 when out of 251 nominations and 50 finalist, 'Screen It' was selected as one of the 12 winners and awarded $10,000 to continue the program.
And for her efforts and dedication to the program, Kassey was selected to travel to the White House to recieve the honor on the museum's behalf.
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