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Hartford students are working and learning as part of the Real Art Ways team.


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Each year, Real Art Ways hires student apprentices, giving local high-schoolers the chance to learn from within the arts community and gain experience in a non-profit setting. During their time here, apprentices work with every staff member, taking on projects from all of our program areas including administration, marketing, visual arts, cinema and education.

The Real Apprentices program brings together students from diverse backgrounds for a year-round paid apprenticeship exploring arts at a non-profit organization.

Meet our Real Apprentices Donovan Ellis and Amina Khokhar

– Tell us about yourselves.

Amina: “I am Amina Khokhar, a senior at Classical Magnet School (here in Hartford). I enjoy green tea, homemade macaroni and cheese, and veggie straws. I love art, especially collaging and painting, and want to become an art therapist when I am older. At school, I am involved in tech theatre, student senate, and the Gay-Straight Alliance.”

Donovan: “i’m a Senior at High School Inc. i’m looking to become an accountant.”

– Why did you apply for the apprenticeship at Real Art Ways?

Amina: “I wanted to work at RAW to get real experience of how an art gallery functions. When I grow up, I  hope to open my own gallery or museum, and getting hands on experience early on will prepare me for what is to come.”

Donovan: “I wanted to work at Real Art Ways because I was told that it’s a really nice place for artists and also there is a theater. I really enjoy being around positive people and positive vibes, and when I walk into Real Art Ways, I get those vibes.”

– What do you like about working here?

Amina: “I really enjoy the atmosphere and how kind everyone is. Everyone is really laid back and professional, and truly feel passionate about art. It is very inspiring and refreshing. I also enjoy how creative and how unafraid RAW is to try to new things. It is really amazing that they WANT you to express yourself and how accepting they are to fresh ideas. Its truly a great environment!”

Donovan: “Now that I work here, there are many different things to see and do. You don’t always see the same thing every time you enter the building- its like a chameleon- it changes colors. Everything flows so nicely here. The environment is pretty cool!”

– Did you both know each other before you worked here?

D & A: Nope

– So Amina what have you learned about Donovan?

“He goes to High School, Inc, where he is the Student Council President. His focus is business and I hear they are having some fun prom challenges over there. He loves to travel and draw cartoons. He is a trip and no one can do a side eye glare as good as him.”

– And Donovan, what have you learned about Amina?

“She seemed shy at first but once I got to know her I realized how cool she is. She wants to be an art therapist. I remember when I realized how dope she was when I found out she went to the True Colors event – attending that event and being so open and non-judgmental really said a lot to me about the type of person she is.”

– What have you both learned about Real Art Ways working here?

Amina: “I had no idea this place even existed before I started working here. This is the most welcoming place. If I had a car I would chill here every single day. It is so good that the youth have a platform where they can really connect, not just online, but in person, it is such a good environment here.”

Donovan: “I usually am quiet and keep to myself but this is an environment where you feel comfortable to be yourself. The first day of Mess Hall, I was not sure what do to but very quickly I felt comfortable and was able to be myself.”

– What skills did you learn here?

Amina: “I learned how to assess a task, break it down and get it done!”

Donovan: “How to be a problem solver.”

– Where will you be next year?

Amina: “Off to college to study art therapy.”

Donvan: “Off to college to study accounting.”

Questions? Ask Lindsey: lfyfe@realartways.org