SOFA student, Iran native selected as scholarship winner

Sep 14, 2017

Thumbnail for SOFA student, Iran native selected as scholarship winner
Thumbnail for SOFA student, Iran native selected as scholarship winner

by Aaron Garland

Images are artworks by Maliheh Rahrovan

A second-year RIT film and animation (MFA) student was one of five college students nationwide to be recognized by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Foundation with a scholarship last month.

With the AIAS Foundation honoring game development-minded students, Maliheh Rahrovan was a recipient of the Randy Pausch Scholarship. All beneficiaries were awarded $2,500 toward their educations, participation in a year-long mentorship program and a complimentary pass to the 2018 D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit and Awards Show. The AIAS Foundation event is scheduled for Feb. 20-22 in Las Vegas.

Rahrovan’s interest in video game design resides on the art and animation side. “I love to bring my illustrations to life,” the School of Film and Animation graduate student said.

Receiving the scholarship will help progress Rahrovan toward her career goal of becoming an art director or animation director. 

“It fueled my motivation to move forward with more confidence,” Rahrovan said of being given the award. “… The best thing about this scholarship is that I have now a very good connection in the gaming environment. That means a lot to me. Being present at the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit will also be an amazing experience.”

Rahrovan does have a history in the gaming industry, working for nearly five years at an indie game studio in Iran, where she was born and grew up. She was the artist of BitByterz studio’s first game, “Memoranda,” a 2D adventure game that Rahrovan calls “my favorite project that I have worked on in recent years.”

Rahrovan studied fine arts at and received bachelor’s degree from Tehran University of Art. And since she developed a perpetual passion for animation at a young age, Rahrovan sought graduate programs in the United States that could adequately satisfy her desire to learn more about the field.

There was one university that was ever-present while researching leading programs: the one she eventually enrolled at.

“Getting my MFA in the U.S. — the heart of animation and the video-game industry — was one of my dreams; that has come true.” Rahrovan said. “I searched and read about the top universities that offered the best programs for MFA in animation, and RIT was always one of the top ones in the rankings.”

Rahrovan’s positive experience at RIT has vindicated her choice.

“The past year I have been in an amazing work environment with many well-informed and kind professors,” Rahrovan said. “I am sure the new academic year will be the same or even better.”