Teodora Vukosavljevic ’25 isn’t afraid to put herself out there. As an artist, she understands it comes with the territory. Whether delighting audiences with her performances in musicals, crafting ceramics for the Romano Gallery or weaving narratives in writing, Téa takes a profound approach to her work—which is why it was a surprise to her that a down-to-earth piece of nonfiction she penned about a family outing garnered her national acclaim.
In December, Téa received news that she had won a 2024 YoungArts award in nonfiction writing for her piece, The Further South You Go, The More Depressing It Is: Što Južnije To Tužnije. The story chronicles a trip she took with her mother and father through the Balkans this past summer to learn more about her Serbian heritage and the laughs (and tears) they shared along the way.
“My father is a real character,” Téa explained, “so I decided to write about this ridiculous experience we had together as a family. I prefer to write nonfiction stories and bring the reader into this real world instead of creating one of my own.”
With the award, Téa joins a group of nearly 700 talented young visual, literary and performing artists from across the country. YoungArts award winners are selected through a highly competitive application, according to The National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists, which is reviewed by panels of esteemed, discipline-specific artists in a rigorous adjudication process. 2024 YoungArts award winners join a distinguished community of artists who are offered creative and professional development support throughout their careers. Téa is excited for an upcoming meeting to learn more about the resources that will be available to her through YoungArts, including financial awards, speaking opportunities and learning intensives.
“I couldn't be prouder of Téa,” English teacher John Redos ’09 shared of his advisee. “Her unwavering passion for the written word has consistently impressed and inspired me. I can't think of anyone more deserving, and I am genuinely honored to serve as her advisor.”
The YoungArts competition is not the first time Téa has submitted her writing to be judged. Though the process is daunting, she understands it will only help her improve as she looks to major in English in college. It has also taught Téa a valuable lesson: the art of handling rejection.
“Rejection doesn’t define you,” Téa wisely offers. “If you get rejected, no one else has to know about it. It won’t have any long-term effect on you continuing to do what you love.”
The YoungArts competition is open to artists 15 to18 years old (or in grades 10 through 12). For more information about becoming a YoungArts award winner and a complete list of this year’s winners, click here.