The Sheckler Venture Grant

The Sheckler Venture Grant supports any current Junior or Senior Visual and Performing Arts major* in the development of original research or creative project that culminates in a public performance, exhibition, or presentation. Funds can support research costs, travel expenses, and material supplies. The grantee must complete the work before May of their Senior year. 

Allyson Sheckler’s  intellectual curiosity and her commitment to the study of Art and Art History is the epitome of what the department of Visual and Performing Arts asks of their students. Her leadership and mentorship of the department should be celebrated by encouraging students to approach their studies with the same seriousness and sense of adventure that she brought into the classroom.  

*Studio art, arts administration, visual studies, graphic design, dance, theater, or music.

Make a Gift

Your support of this new initiative makes a difference to our VPA students. To make a gift, click the purple button above. Thank you for your generosity.

Stonehill faculty and staff, you may also make your gift through payroll deduction. Learn more on the Faculty and Staff giving website or submit a payroll deduction gift online.

Academic Year 2022-2023 Award Recipients

Katelyn Parziale
Hemingway Theatre

Shannon Labuza, Class of 2023

Field of Study: Theatre Arts and Health Science

Hometown: Burlington, MA

Sophie Yurkus, Class of 2024

Field of Study: Theatre Arts

Hometown: Amesbury, MA

Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant Project Description

The Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant was used for Shannon and Sophie's theatre capstone. For their capstone, they put on a ten-minute play completely on their own. Sophie wrote the play, while Shannon was the technical director, and together, they directed it.

How was the Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant beneficial to your efforts? 
This grant was beneficial in helping us run this production as professionally as possible. We were able to use the grant to make any purchases for sets or props. We built some of our own sets, so the grant helped us get any additional materials we needed for building them. We were also able to hire someone to run the lighting and someone to film it. We were able to get a really nice film of our show, which was great!

What is your most memorable experience or takeaway from this project?
The most memorable experience was having the opportunity to put self-written work on the stage and watch it all come to life. We have both been in many shows here at Stonehill and worked in different areas behind the scenes, like set building. It was a really memorable experience to do it all on our own and see what we could create.

What were some challenges you had to overcome while working on your project?
One of the challenges for this production was finding a good groove for co-directing. That’s not always an easy thing to do if you don’t have a shared vision of the show. So, early on we made sure we had a joint vision of the show, so we could each guide our actors to that same idea. The other tricky thing was figuring out the set and props for this show. We looked through the many props and set pieces the theatre company had to find what we were looking for. There were lots of options for certain props, like cups, so we made sure those were picked with intention. There was also a set piece we were looking for that the theatre didn’t have so we ended up building our own shelf for the set. Setting and props was a fun area to work in but was a bit of a challenge to get exactly what we had in mind.

What was one of your favorite courses or most challenging academic experiences at Stonehill?
A favorite class we actually took together at Stonehill was Stagecraft. Through this class, we learned all about the specifics of set building, lighting, and all the technical elements that go into a production. We built some of the set for the theatre company’s fall play and also worked on our own lighting project for a hypothetical production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not only was this a very fun class to be a part of, but it helped a great deal when we had to create all these technical elements on our own for our capstone.

Is there a faculty, staff, or peer mentor who impacted you during your time at Stonehill, and how did that person support your journey?
One mentor who was impactful for both of our education at Stonehill is Professor Matt Greene, director of the theatre department. We have both had several classes with him and had him as our director for many shows. We were able to learn a lot from him about directing and play writing. Sophie had him for a play writing class, which helped so much when she wrote the 10-minute show. Matt was able to give her edits and helped to really refine the work.  Matt was also there to help us during the process of our capstone for any questions we had or if we needed any assistance with anything.

What are your post-graduate goals and aspirations?
Sophie: After graduating I am hoping to continue with theatre and go into directing. My time here working in Stonehill’s theatre department has helped me find my passion for working behind the scenes for shows and directing. I’m hoping to direct at a theatre of any level, whether it is a community theatre or on Broadway sometime, I just want to continue on with my passion. 

Shannon: Since graduation, I have started a master's program. I am going for my Master’s of Science in Athletic Training. This is a two-year program so I will be focusing on it until I graduate, then I plan on finding an athletic training job.

Academic Year 2021-2022 Award Recipient

Katelyn Parziale
Katelyn Parziale '22

Katelyn Parziale, Class of 2022

Field of Study: Performing Arts with a Concentration in Theater and Elementary Education

Hometown: Medford, MA

Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant Project Description

The Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant made Katelyn's dream of directing a play come true. With this grant, she was able to stage “Alice in Wonderland” with full costumes, props, and sets! 

The most memorable part of this experience for Katelyn was working with children interested in theater from her hometown and giving them the opportunity to perform on a college theater stage. 

Her biggest challenge when completing this project was putting on a full production without a production team. Fortunately, the actors and a few of her closest friends helped her with the creation of sets and costumes. 

Academic Year 2021-2022 Award Recipient

Giana Gualda, Class of 2022

Field of Study: Performing Arts

Hometown: Franklin Lakes, NJ

Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant Project Description

For Giana’s project, she wrote a movie script that involved a personal story of hers with the goal of producing a short film. With the Sheckler Venture Grants, Giana planned to purchase camera and sound equipment and utilize funds to travel in Massachusetts for filming. Giana has a passion for acting and hopes to pursue a future career in film.


Professor Allyson Sheckler

Professor Sheckler came to Stonehill in 1995 in a part-time position into what was the very beginnings of the Fine Arts program alongside program founder and Chair, Carole Calo. Throughout the first two decades of the program in her roles as educator, ‘Co-Chair’ with Professor Calo, and then as Chair, Sheckler oversaw the development and administrative needs of the growing program. Since 2015, she has served as the Director of the Moreau Honors Program. During her tenure as Director, she developed a new application and admission process, revitalized the Honors Advisory Council, and created the opportunity for Honors students to design their own Learning Communities.

Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching

In 2007, Professor Sheckler was awarded the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stonehill and the Faculty Service Award in 2019.

Alumni Reflections

Many of her students have gone on to lives and careers that continue the enthusiasm for the study of art and architecture that they first explored with her guidance:

"Not only did Allyson Sheckler bring the worlds of art and architecture alive in the classroom, she made first-hand experiences with our subjects of study possible through trips to museums and architectural landmarks. A passionate and dedicated educator, she taught me to look closely, think deeply, and be inquisitive. Through her support, I found the confidence to pursue my own path in the fields of art and design, and I feel truly fortunate for all that she has taught me.”
Emily Banas, Class of 2011, Assistant Curator at RISD Museum

"Sheckler is a fierce, feisty and fearless leader. Seeing her practice her passion in the classroom gave me the courage to choose a career path I love, even if it was the more risky option. Whenever I feel uncertain about my next step in life, I can always hear Professor Sheckler's voice in my head telling me to trust my instinct - and she's always right."
Emily Schario, Class of 2018, Associate Producer at WGBH

“ … I wanted to use this to thank you for being a wonderful professor for not one, not two, but three semesters over three years of my college experience. You were always insightful, you challenged me in your classes as a student always, and helped me grow in my own educational and artistic development, and you and your class were also a blast to attend every single day. Your enthusiasm and spark for your craft were always on full display, and it made learning and participating an utter joy (even in an online setting). I was always so eager to hear another of your stories, and I thank you for sharing all of them. I hope someday I can help others hone themselves like you have helped me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything.”
Brendan Connelly, Class of 2020

Academic Year 2020-2021 Award Recipient

Robbie Hoye
Robbie Hoye '21

Robbie Hoye, Class of 2021

Field of Study: Communication and Performing Arts 

Hometown: Franklin, MA

Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant Project Description

For his senior performing arts capstone, Robbie Hoye starred in and directed a small cast in the hilarious play Hand to God, by Robert Askins. This dark comedy surrounds a church's youth puppet theatre as it gets possessed by the devil. The cast met multiple times a week during the Spring 2021 semester to rehearse for the play, which was virtually showcased for the Stonehill community in early May 2021. With the support provided by the Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant, Robbie has been able to build the puppets integral to show as well as begin assembling the set and filming equipment.

Academic Year 2020-2021 Award Recipient

Katherine Wall
Katherine Wall '21

Katherine Wall, Class of 2021

Field of Study: Elementary Education and Arts & Visual Culture

Hometown: North Andover, MA

Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant Project Description

Katherine Wall on a mixed media approach that expresses what those living with mental health issues deal with on a daily basis. It is both a look into her life and experiences, as well as those in her life who also struggle with mental wellness.

Katherine used a mix of acrylic paint, plaster, micron pen, and oil pastel on canvas, as well as incorporated photography. She created her abstract pieces to best attempt to express her perception of the world during ups and downs.

Details of Allyson Sheckler Venture Grant

  • Applicant Due Date: Applications will be considered twice a year, September 1 and February 1.   
  • Materials:  See the current VPA Chair for an application that includes project description, budget, and a narrative.  A committee of VPA faculty will make final decisions.
  • Awards will be decided by October and March of each year. 
  • Project Description: Tell us in 500 words or less, what you plan to use the money for. Tell us about how this work will be made, research conducted, where it will happen, and for how long.
  • Budget: Give us a rough estimate of what you will need supporting funds for. (Bullet points are fine.)
  • Narrative: In 500 words or less, tell us the “why” of your project. What makes you want to pursue this? We are especially interested in projects that require one to dig deeply into specific personal or academic questions that can only be answered through prolonged research or production.