CLASS OF 2020: Featuring Nina Bussard. Creative! Committed! Courageous!

Student Interviews on the Impact of the Arts

The Burbank Arts for All Foundation is proud to highlight students in the CLASS OF 2020 who have been part of the robust arts community in Burbank Unified School District classrooms. We hope you enjoy reading about their experiences and getting to know them as we celebrate an important milestone in their lives: high school graduation.

Today, we present to you Nina Bussard, who danced, played music, sang, and painted through the Burbank schools’ performing and visual arts programs. This fall, Nina will be attending Illinois State University. Congratulations Nina!

I was always a timid kid, and singing was the only thing that helped me connect with others. It gave me the confidence to take comfort in my feelings, which was hard for me as a child. Music has helped me see things from different perspectives.

Nina pictured above. Photo courtesy of Nina Bussard.

My name is Nina Bussard, I am eighteen years old, and I was part of the music and visual arts programs in Burbank schools.

What was your first experience with the arts while in the Burbank Unified Schools? I did not move to California until after my sophomore year of high school. Until then, I lived in Chicago, where I was at an art school, Lincoln Park High School. I have been playing violin for eleven years and was a part of orchestras in Chicago, both in school and outside of school as part of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. I still play outside of school, although I wish that John Burroughs High School (JBHS) had an orchestra. 

Drawing has always been a hobby of mine. I took an art class in elementary school from first through third grade, which was my first exposure to visual arts. During my Junior year at JBHS, I took Art Structure classes, which gave me the fundamental art skills and helped me expand my interpretation and creation of art. 

I had always wanted to try dance and took one dance class at the age of 12, as part of a summer camp class. I initially took dance during my junior year to complete the BUSD graduation requirement, but then ended up loving it, and retook dance during my senior year. 

Since I play multiple instruments, I have always had particularly good musicality, so dance came quickly. I discovered that the rhythm connected all dance and that you could put more interpretation into your movements if you had the foundation, which I liked. 

What art experiences in the schools are you most proud of, and how did it impact you? When I took the beginning-level dance classes as a junior, we had to perform on-stage, and that was a real eye-opener. When I complete a piece of visual art, I feel accomplished, and it helps me put things into perspective. Starting a project is often a challenge, but once I’ve finished, I look at it as a reflection of the limits that I put on myself and the capability that surprises me.

 What advice do you have for younger students interested in doing something like what you do? Take a chance because you never know where it will lead you. You will find your strengths through trial and error, along with many successes.

Please share your plans for your future after graduation. Are you going on to college? If so, where and what do you hope to study? In the fall, I will be attending Illinois State University (ISU), and I hope to find a major that allows me to use the arts to help children find their voice, such as music therapy. 

I was always a timid kid, and singing was the only thing that helped me connect with others. It gave me the confidence to take comfort in my feelings, which was hard for me as a child. Music has helped me see things from different perspectives. Something as simple as figuring out how people learn music is different for every individual, and people take different paths to get there. 

I chose Illinois State University because they specialize in teaching degrees. I often think of teaching as a profession that suits my goals because it spreads knowledge and awareness to others about the world. My criteria for a college was that they had to have an orchestra and majors that suited my passions, which ISU does. They also have the Gamma Phi Circus. I have been doing circus for seven years, consisting of juggling, unicycle, aerials, and acrobatics. I was in a performance troop for two years, and we traveled to places like Indonesia to perform and spread inclusivity through circus arts. I hope to expand my skills and performance through the Gamma Phi Circus and continue to explore all the arts that I can.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you expect the arts to continue to play a role in your life and if so, how? In five years, I see myself being able to help others. Arts will always be a big part of my life because it has given me a common ground to communicate with others, which I want to give to other people. 

One of Nina’s drawings. Photo courtesy of Nina Bussard.

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