Olson with her jewelry that won Best of Show in the 2016 Messiah Festival Juried Art Show.

Olson with her jewelry that won Best of Show in the 2016 Messiah Festival Juried Art Show.

A life-long dream to study art in a city that is home to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces is within reach for one Bethany College student. Kami Olson, a junior from Sedgwick, Kansas, has been accepted to the SACI College of Art & Design in Florence, Italy and will study there this spring.

“I have wanted to study abroad since I was seven years old and I have been saving for it since then,” Olson said.

Information about Bethany’s study abroad programs was the first thing she sought out as a freshman and scheduled a meeting with the college’s director of international studies during her orientation week. She found SACI through her art instructors and knew it was what she had been looking for.

“I knew I needed to apply early,” she said. “I haven’t stopped smiling since I got accepted. I am beyond excited. My dimples hurt because I have been smiling so much.”

She plans on making the most of her opportunity and will be taking a full semester of classes that will include art history, drawing, ceramics and etching. Her studies will include visiting many famous Italian cities as well as the local museums in Florence. SACI (Studio Art Centers International) is the oldest American art school in Florence and offers undergraduate and graduate level courses.

In addition to the art training she will receive, Olson also hopes to discover more about her family roots, which trace back to Sicily. She has gotten help from her grandmother and hopes to find relatives during her stay in Italy.

“Even though I have a Swedish last name, I am half Italian and hope I can meet some of my family while I am there,” Olson said. “It’s always been a joke in our family that my sister (a twin) and I are the Swedish meatballs.”

Although Olson has been saving for this experience since she was young, she is working two jobs and selling her artwork in gallery shows around Lindsborg to help earn money for her trip. She has also set up a Go Fund Me page.

“I am so grateful to Bethany for the scholarship that helps me attend. I wouldn’t be here without it,” she said. “My twin also goes to Bethany so it can get pretty hard for my family. I pay for myself to help out.”

She is an active member of the Bethany College campus. She plays trumpet in Jazz Band, and is a member of Sigma Phi Omega sorority, Art Club, Green Team and the Gold Key honors organization. She hopes to continue her art education at a graduate school after Bethany and have a gallery someday.

“If I can feed myself and pay the rent as an artist, I will be happy,” she said.