2013 Scholar: Vann Fulfs

Vann Fulfs (photo by Holly Leonard)

For more on Vann:
• See the documentary series “Undercover High” on A&E
• Vann’s Reel 2017 here
At Large In Ballard: The Bright Flame of Justin's Legacy

I’m happy to announce that I have graduated with high honors from Columbia College Chicago. Your ability to take such a tragedy and transform it into something so positive is inspiring and deeply moving. And has the power to change lives like mine.

My journey would not have been possible without your combined efforts, and I hope I can hold a candle to the bright flame of Justin’s legacy.

Vann Fulfs, the 2013 scholarship winner, became our first JDogg college graduate! Vann wrote in 2018 to update and speak to our donors:

It’s been about five years since I first received the JDogg scholarship and I’ve already come farther than I ever thought possible. I’ve moved to New York City, coordinated a complicated and difficult documentary series, and now sit as the Lead Video Creative at a digital marketing agency.

Your contribution to the scholarship cannot be understated. The JDogg community has built more than just a path to higher education for young filmmakers, you have directly put passion into progress.

Vann Fulfs was a 2013 graduate of Ballard High School, Justin’s high school alma mater. In 2016, Vann graduated from Columbia College of the Arts in Chicago, after busting it out to finish college in 3 years! He said at the time, “My future has never looked so bright and that is thanks to what you have all done.”

Vann’s personal projects investigate the subcultures in the greater Chicago area, for example:
Free Street Theater: Underprivileged Youth Theater
22: Veterans Dealing with PTSD
Nightrider: Exploring the Underground Drag-Racing Community

At Ballard High, Vann served as president of the Future Filmmakers Club and performed community outreach and fundraising for the school’s Video Production Program. His very first video, Leisure Biking, received an Award of Excellence in the News Feature category at the 2010 Northwest High School Film Festival. His dramatic/horror story, At First Sight, received an honorable mention at the same festival and was judged a Work of Merit at the Young People’s Film Festival. In 2012, Vann’s comedic digital short Love at First Bite received a Creative Self-Expression Award in the five-state regional festival Fresh Film Northwest for outstanding achievement in cinematic storytelling.

In the words of one of his teachers:

It’s rare for students to achieve festival recognition with their first productions, but that’s been the case with Vann. He has perseverance, dedication, and creativity. He’s productive working alone or with peers. Although he often emerges as the leader of his groups, he is not dominating and is equally comfortable as a leader or in a supporting role. His critical and creative mind is also apparent in his strong visual designs and media strategies. He is also one of those rare and rewarding students who return to projects after evaluation in an effort to do the best possible work.

— Matt Lawrence, Video Production Teacher
Ballard High School

As the Ballard News-Tribune reported, Vann describes the announcement of his selection like this: “I actually think I started crying, to be honest…It was very emotional for a lot of people in the room. It’s hard for me to express it…just being put to where Justin was, was a huge honor.”

The JDogg Scholarship Fund would like to thank photographer Jerry Gay and the Ballard News-Tribune (Ken Robinson, managing editor, Zachariah Bryan and Peggy Sturdivant, writers).

"This would not have been possible without Justin & Blair & Craig…it is so touching to see tragedy & heartbreak transformed into such a poignant, moving tribute. Blair & Craig — you are so beautiful, incredible, & inspirational. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Justin; but with parents like you guiding him, I can totally see how he made such a huge, lasting impact on everyone he encountered!
This would not have been possible without ALL of you and your hard work and dedication!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you — to all of you and all the JDogg supporters & community!
I am so darn proud of Vann. This is so very special & dear.

All my love & gratitude,

— Holly (Mother of Vann)