Denise Descouzis ’77 says all she ever wanted to do in life was make a real difference.
“It’s been my observation that teachers make the most ripples, so I thought if I make a gift that helps make arts education happen. If I can provide a plunk in the water I can help make those kinds of ripples happen.”
Denise attended UNC Greensboro where her father, Paul Descouzis, was a professor in the Romance Languages Department. As a Theatre major she enjoyed being in the chorus of Anything Goes, directed by a favorite professor, Herman Middleton. She switched her studies to Speech Pathology, and after graduating, moved to Texas and practiced as an Audiologist for 35 years. She also discovered a passion for working with young people in the arts as a Youth Choir Director and High School Theatre Director.
“Music frees up the whole brain. The arts open up entire worlds to children. But I’ve watched the arts become more and more marginalized over the years. When schools make cuts, the arts are the first to go. I just wanted to find a way for children to have arts opportunities. It will change their lives.”
When Denise, who was born with a significant heart defect, realized it was time to seriously consider how to create a legacy she did her homework. She says she thought about the schools where she did undergraduate and graduate studies and checked out arts programs at other universities. She decided to invest in the Community Arts Collaborative, which is operated through UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and provides an array of low cost, participatory arts opportunities, including private lessons, artist residencies and performances.
“The Community Arts Collaborative at UNCG had the broader reach, and I’m proud to be a part of something that values and fosters the fine arts in a long-lasting way.”
The Denise and Paul Descouzis Community Arts Endowment supports the community-engaged work of the CVPA, with priority given to programs that offer art, dance, music and theatre opportunities to under-served children in both out-of-school and in-school sites in Greensboro.