Congratulations Graduates!

Next week, Michael Hardin will graduate from Exceptional Minds and start his career in animation as an intern at Nickelodeon.

2021 Exceptional Minds grads Jackson Meigs and Liam Brosnan also start summer internships at gaming company Niantic, while several other grads begin their careers in the Exceptional Minds studio working on projects from Disney+, Netflix, Cartoon Network, and Sesame Workshop to name just a few.

Max Everett is developing a theme park attraction while Andres Lerma continues to refine his adorable character Quetzy and its story.

The 8th graduating class from Exceptional Minds is parlaying three years of training and expertise into careers. And their collaboration as a team through a pandemic and distance learning is a testament to how they can overcome any challenge!

The 2021 graduation keynote speaker is Jorge Gutierrez who has spent time sharing his own challenges, wisdom, and stories with us. He models so well how he uses his autism as a powerful tool for successful filmmaking and storytelling.

These are the stories we dream of in our obligation to reshape the narrative of how people look at those on the spectrum and how those on the spectrum look at themselves.

Too many young adults with autism are unemployed but Exceptional Minds is changing that. Our graduates continue to work and thrive in the animation and digital arts fields. We have graduates employed at Marvel Studios, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon; one outstanding young animator was promoted within a year and she has just been joined at Nickelodeon by another Exceptional Minds graduate – a full-time production assistant – who has applied the skills she acquired here.

These current graduates join a storied Exceptional Minds alumni tribe who have been successfully navigating the rough waters of employability for years. Many started out in our studio working on visual effects for shows like Star Wars and Game of Thrones or on animation projects for The Special Olympics and National Geographic. Others started their careers as interns or employees with Disney, Warner Bros., Fox, and Discovery Channel.

We can’t wait to see how far this group goes!

Congratulations to the Class of 2021: Andres Lerma, Artie Parr, Dean Julien, Dustin Noriyuki, Liam Brosnan, Jackson Meigs, Max Everett, Michael Hardin, Sarah Barnes, Shad Wilde, and Veronica Dolcich.

Graduation will be held virtually on June 11, fittingly marking the beginning of a world made more beautiful by the talent and determination of these eleven exceptional artists.

Andres Lerma
Career tracks: Animation and Motion Graphics

Artie Parr
Career track: VFX

Dean Julien 

Career track: Animation

Dustin Noriyuki
Career tracks: Storyboarding and Animation

Jackson“Jack” Meigs
Career track: 2D & 3D Animation and Storyboards

Liam Brosnan
Career tracks: Design and 3D Modeling

Max Everett
Career tracks: Motion Graphics and Storyboarding  

Michael Hardin
Career tracks: Animation and Storyboarding

Sarah Barnes
Career track: Motion Graphics

Shad Wilde
Career tracks: 2D Animator, Storyboard Revisionist

Veronica Dolcich
Career tracks: Storyboarding, 2D Animation

Special thanks go to the exceptional Dee McVicker who has been a part of the Exceptional Minds family for almost a decade. Dee has been a mastermind copywriter and publicist for EM and will be missed as she writes her next adventure as part of her semi-retirement. Thank you for all of the heart and hard work Dee! 

To help more students like our 2021 Graduates please click here.

Exceptional Minds, a California non-profit of the year, is an academy and studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation, visual effects, 3D gaming, and other related fields in the entertainment industry. Exceptional Minds provides critical technical and work readiness training customized to help its students achieve their full artistic and professional potential, creating a new pipeline of talented artists, and fostering inclusive hiring practices. Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future where neurodiverse perspectives are vital to the advancement of a more empowered and inclusive society.

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