LAKEWOOD RANCH — Shy and quiet coming into high school, Danae McDermott needed a voice.
She quickly found it through art and design, after joining her high school’s yearbook staff.
But, like any first-draft, yearbook page, McDermott’s voice needed polishing and direction. It also needed an advocate — and a friend.
After a four-plus-year friendship, McDermott, a 2013 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School, and Kari Reddish, the Mustangs’ yearbook adviser for the last nine years, will attend the Jostens National Conference July 11 through July 13, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
McDermott earned an invitation to the conference, which recognizes academic achievement, community service and positive behavior, after Jostens — known best as a yearbook and class-ring maker — awarded her its Renaissance Student Scholarship. She will accept the award at the conference this weekend.
Jostens gave McDermott a $2,500 scholarship, which can be renewed for up to three more years.
She is the only winner in the United States.
McDermott invited Reddish — who nominated her for the scholarship in April — to join her on the trip to Arizona.
McDermott is enrolled at the University of Central Florida, where she will major in graphic design.
True to her take-charge nature, nurtured during a rise from yearbook staff member, to academics editor, creative director and finally to editor-in-chief her senior year, McDermott already is enrolled in summer classes at UCF.
“I never imagined winning,” McDermott said of the scholarship. “Mrs. Reddish and I have the same interests and (she) really helped me find my love for graphic design. It means more to share the honor with her.”
Reddish, who will leave Lakewood Ranch for Estero next year, sees the trip as a fitting cap to her end here.
“This is the epitome of being a teacher — to have a passion for what you do and to guide someone through the learning process, and to have a student see it through,” Reddish said.
McDermott found an interest in graphic design when her mother, Sherri, bought her daughter a Photoshop book in sixth grade.
From fourth to eighth grades, McDermott was home-schooled. During that time, she became comfortable with technology and Photoshop.
When McDermott entered Lakewood Ranch High School, she possessed a solid skill set. Reddish picked her to be the first freshman on the yearbook staff, based on a portfolio of her graphic design work.
In her four years with the yearbook, McDermott led daily editor meetings, took senior photos and developed her design niche.
McDermott designed pages and crafted covers. Now, she’s building a career.
McDermott hopes to one day design for an advertising agency or a magazine.
For now, McDermott will fly on a plane alone for the first time July 11, before reading her scholarship-winning essay on stage.
Reddish will be waiting for her in Arizona.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].