There isn’t that much that sets Niyjale Cummings apart from his fellow freshmen at the Academy of Art University — all young men and women with a passion to build a career in the arts. But most of his classmates won’t be interviewed on NBC’s Today show, as the 18-year-old was on Friday, Dec. 14.

What makes Ny, as he’s known, different from his classmates — and landed him on the national news show — is that he’s attending the San Francisco arts school through a Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship. (You can view the Today show segment on Vernon Davis and Niyjale Cummings here.)

An Oakland, Calif., native, Ny is the second recipient of a scholarship from the Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation. Vernon Davis, a professional football player with the San Francisco 49ers, is himself a talented visual artist. He established the foundation — and recently opened his own art gallery in San Jose — to promote art education and art appreciation for at-risk youth.

“Niyjale is super talented, and he’ll go far if he pursues art for a living,” Davis said upon awarding Ny the scholarship. Not only did Davis recognize Ny’s talent, he also took note of the challenges Ny has faced growing up. Ny’s father died when he was in 10th grade, and he had to change residences often. A teacher encouraged Ny to apply for an internship at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where he became convinced he’d found his calling.

And how did Ny end up at the Academy of Art University? Apparently he had his eyes on the school from a young age. Soft-spoken and a young man of few words, Ny simply says, “I saw an Academy commercial when I was a kid. It intrigued me, because I’ve always wanted to make art.”

Ny’s majoring in Animation & Visual Effects, although he’s mostly worked in sculpture, often using found materials. What interests him in art? “Anything and everything,” he says. “When you think about it, everything is a form of art in itself.” And where does he get his materials for sculptures and paintings? “I find it, I buy it, whatever I can get my hands on!”

Read the full article at: