I Graduated! Pursuing an MFA During a Pandemic

On May 19th I graduated from New York Academy of Art with a Master of Fine Arts in oil painting!

MFA Megan Schaugaard graduating from New York Academy of Art

For those of you who didn't know, I was accepted into the program in 2020 just as COVID-19 hit. Just like everyone else, we were figuring out how to adjust our lives around the unknown. Instead of relocating our whole family to NYC and being restricted to a small space in a big city during the pandemic, we opted for them to stay behind where they had a back yard and plenty of space. I came out alone. The program was still held in person so that we had the opportunity to paint and draw in person with every precaution (smaller classes, etc.) to accommodate the incoming class of students safely. 

I had to arrive to NYC 14 days before the program started to fulfill the required quarantine period since I was coming from out of state. The beginning of my time there was incredibly hard because there were restrictions and quarantine regulations in place for anyone leaving New York for a period of longer than 24 hours, and by doing so, I would have to miss multiple days of school. I wasn't able to see my husband for at least 3 months after my arrival, and my kids for 4 months. Though I found the program to be rewarding and exactly what I wanted to study, I cried on my birthday and on my son's birthday. I cried on Halloween. I was subjected to seeing them in their costumes in photos only. I missed them. Honestly, this was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I finally booked a flight to Vegas to meet up with my family in November 2020 and stayed less than 24 hours so that I didn't have to quarantine.

Nearing the end of the school year, restrictions were finally lifting and they were able to come out to NYC and pick me up to take me home for the summer. We talked about them coming out to NYC for part of my second year, but with travel restrictions loosening, we opted to travel back and forth for the second year.

I've had some incredible opportunities and have met some of the most amazing people in New York City. I have been able to study under some of the most talented artists. I will forever be grateful for the people who have supported me. I need to give a HUGE shout-out to my husband, who not only kept everyone alive, but probably showed me up in keeping everything together at home without me. 

It seems like such a whirlwind when I look back and sometimes question if I am crazy. Who leaves their family in the middle of a pandemic? Well, I did. I am so grateful to have had a successful time at school and achieve my goal of obtaining an MFA from the school of my choice, but now I'm so excited to be back with my family.

My husband and kids flew out to attend my graduation and spend some time in New York City before we all came back home. This time we flew back together, and for good.

Megan Schaugaard graduating from New York Academy of Art with family

This fall, I will be teaching 2D Design as well as Drawing & Composition at Utah Tech University as an adjunct professor. I also plan to continue to paint and participate in the NYC art scene, as well as in the Western part of the US.