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Mancuso blends art, psychology into therapy

MADISON – Camille Mancuso, a junior art major at the University of Alabama from Madison, plans to use visual arts to treat children with communicative disorders.

A Madison native, Camille is an alumna of James Clemens High School.

Camille learned first-hand about the power of visual art. One day at James Clemens, her father called to tell Camille that her grandfather, a consistent source of motivation in her life, had died.

“My grandfather always pushed me to do better in high school. It hit hard. I had to get that out of my system,” Camille said.

Camille took solace in her painting at James Clemens. She used the paints on canvas as a coping mechanism. “I did a lot of Vanitas style, where the interest is in morality and appreciation of everything. It was like creating a memorial.”

Camille continues to honor her grandfather, UA Strategic Communications David Miller said. “Camille wants to achieve the same relief for children with communicative disorders.” She plans to encompass many artistic mediums to lessen stress, improve self-esteem and regulate feelings.

Camille said her academic support at UA mirrors her experiences at James Clemens with art teacher Liz Vaughn helping her grow artistically and finding scholarship opportunities.

“My dad really wanted me to search for scholarships. Liz Vaughn, as she has done for many students, helped me find them. The art students became a tight-knit group in high school. She was like a second mother to me,” Camille said.

“Even when I’m given assignments for class, I think, ‘How will this make me feel in the end?'” Camille said. “‘Relaxed? Do I need to do more? Does this medium feel calming or frustrating?'”

Camille acknowledged UA art professor Dr. Sky Shineman for finding a study-abroad trip, “UA in Europe: Finding Meaning.” Camille met UA professors Dr. Joy J. Burnham and Barbra Lee Black who helped develop a plan to combine art and child psychology into a career.

Camille’s path will include undergraduate psychology classes. She volunteers at the UA Rise Center, an early childhood education program for children with disabilities.

Camille has maintained a 3.999 GPA. To-date, she has earned almost $20,000 in scholarships.

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