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Five Iowa students receive arts scholarship awards

Apr 28, 2023

DES MOINES – The Iowa Arts Council has selected five talented high school seniors for this year’s Iowa Scholarship for the Arts.

This year’s recipients are Johnnie Each from Cedar Rapids, Jaiden Eisbrenner from Colfax, Annastacia Iverson from Webster City, Rhianna Koppes from Story City and Nancy Nahra from North Liberty.

The Iowa Scholarship for the Arts program supports Iowa high school students with proven artistic ability in dance, creative writing, music, theater, traditional arts or visual arts who plan to pursue a major in the arts at an accredited Iowa college or university. Each scholarship winner will receive $2,500 for his or her college tuition and related expenses as a full-time undergraduate student in 2023-2024.

"We commend this year's scholarship recipients for all of their accomplishments and continuing their studies in the arts in Iowa,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “These outstanding young people also exemplify how the arts build skills and foster the creativity and innovation that can open up many career pathways in a variety of creative fields."

The Iowa Scholarship for the Arts program was founded in 1986 with proceeds from a benefit concert by world-renowned opera singer and Centerville native Simon Estes as well as contributions from organizations and private citizens to ensure outstanding young artists continue to be recognized and educated in Iowa.

"This year’s arts scholarship recipients have demonstrated the highest level of artistic promise and a dedication to continue developing their knowledge and skills,” Iowa Arts Council Administrator David Schmitz said.

The list of this year’s recipients is below:

Johnnie Each from Cedar Rapids plans to pursue a double-major in Journalism/Mass Communication and English/Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. Each has won a national gold medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing competition and was named the Iowa Student Poetry Ambassador for 2022-2023. She wants to use her words to create more beauty and to tell more of humanity's incredible stories.

Jaiden Eisbrenner from Colfax plans to pursue a double-major in English and Theater at Simpson College. Theater opened a door to convey Eisbrenner’s passions by focusing on the care of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, dismantling societal norms, and difficult mental issue topics. Through theater, Eisbrenner is able to bring those themes to light and discuss them with people after a performance. Eisbrenner plans to become a teacher. 

Annastacia Iverson from Webster City plans to study Studio Arts at the University of Northern Iowa. She has been passionate about creating art since she was a child, remembering the hours she spent working on coloring books and drafting her own stories instead of watching television. She dreams of opening her own ceramics studio. In addition to creating and selling her own work, she wants to teach others to bring more color and happiness into their own lives. 

Rhianna Koppes from Story City plans to pursue a double-major in English and Theater at the University of Iowa. Her passion for writing began at the young age of 3 when her parents gifted her a “write-your-own-story” book for her birthday. Koppes’ passion for writing and acting has developed into her new-found love of playwriting with a focus on comedy, and she hopes to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for her master’s degree.

Nancy Nahra from North Liberty plans to pursue a double-major in Engineering and English at the University of Iowa. Inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” Nahra’s poetry parallels the sublime imagery of nature to human growth and development. She also writes about heritage and nationality through her lens as a member of the Lebanese diaspora. Nahra aims to publish a collection of poetry someday and become an active member of local poetry salon readings.

More information is available at

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa-State Office of Film & Media – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.