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2019-2020 Student, Faculty, Staff, and Community Awards

From Heart to Heart 

Maya Angelou (1928-2014), America’s great poet, singer, and civil rights activist, once said that “all great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.” I would add to this group of artists the many donors, faculty, and staff who give from their hearts to elevate our students to their artistic successes. Each plays a vital role in the growth of creativity for the betterment of humankind. Each contributes to our artful futures, aesthetic sensibilities, and expanded view of what it means to be human.

As you read through this array of outstanding awardees, help us celebrate their successes made possible by our generous donors, dedicated staff, and excellent faculty. Just as our artmaking springs from deep within, so too is our gratitude deeply rooted. From today to forever, from heart to heart, we thank our young artists, our teachers, and their supporters for creating a world of possibilities. Congratulations to all!

Rachel Lee Nardo, D.M.A.
Dean, Caine College of the Arts

Awards Night Show Open

Appreciation Video

Sally F. Sears
Champion of the Arts

Sally F SearsAwards Bio

UPR Shout Out

Jamie Lancaster 

Jamie LancasterAwards Bio

Dr. Jason Nicholson
Teacher of the Year

Jason NicholsonAwards Bio

Christopher T. Terry Distinguished Service 

Chris TerryAwards Bio

 Undergraduate Student Awards

Elizabeth Bohannon, Scholar of the Year

Elizabeth BohannonElizabeth Bohannon was born in Salt Lake City, UT. When she was one year old, her family moved to St. George, UT and they have lived there ever since. She attended Dixie High School, where she was deeply involved in the acapella singing group and the theatre productions. After high school she served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Puebla, Mexico. There, she developed a love of the Spanish language and the people. In 2016, she married Tucker Bohannon. She received her Associates of Arts degree in general studies from Dixie State University in 2017. In Fall 2017, her and her husband transferred to Utah State University, which was the best thing they have ever done. She has thrived at Utah State University by being deeply involved in the theatre education department, as well as in her Spanish teaching minor. She is also a member of the Caine Scholars program. In 2019, Elizabeth and Tucker added a beautiful baby girl to their family. Although going to school and being a mom has been a new challenge for Elizabeth, she still manages to dedicate time to excel in her projects inside and outside of class, while taking care of her sweet daughter. She is expected to graduate Fall 2020. She looks forward to the many new adventures that life holds for her.

Alex Pierson, Student Service Award

Alex PiersonAlex Pierson is a senior nearing completion of a degree in music performance and a degree in physics. Alex plays french horn in several audition ensembles and is a member of the national band service fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. He also acts as a student leader in the Aggie Marching Band as the mellophone section leader.

Music has always been a vital part of Alex's life. He was diagnosed in elementary school with Aspergers's Syndrome and music has always been a way to cope with the stress and emotion of life. Music allows him to express himself and share passion and emotion with others. 

Alex hopes to share his love of music with the world. He wants to make a career as a french horn player and dreams to someday record film scores. He finds simple opportunities in his life to help and serve those around him, and he hopes to continue doing that with music.

Jake Hogan, Community Engaged Student

Jake HoganJake Hogan is currently a Junior at USU, studying Theatre Education and English Teaching. They are excited to become an arts educator out in the field organizing and accomplishing meaningful work! While at USU, they have been an active and involved member of the LGBTQIA+ community in Cache Valley and Utah. They have been a member of QSA (Queer Student Alliance) for all of their years here while also serving as the Vice President of the organization this year. They have volunteered with the youth program at Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends. They have also presented on LGBTQIA+ history for multiple organizations including CVUU (Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists), LGBT/LDS Support Group and QSA. They became interested in doing a devised theatre project after taking the Applied Theatre class from professor Matt Omasta. After developing a detailed proposal and plan for the project, Jake assembled a research team and began the process. The project helped them develop their skills as a future theatre educator and demonstrated how effective and influential artistic community engagement can be.

Nathan Scott, USUSA Arts Senator

Nathan ScottNathan has always had a great love for USU having parents who both graduated from Utah State. Nathan was accepted into the Music Therapy Program at USU in the spring of 2017. He has always had a passion for music and participated in many performances and competitions within the vocal department at USU. He combined that passion with his love of involvement and has given himself many opportunities to establish himself as a student leader at Utah State University. He has enjoyed serving as an Ambassador for the Caine College of the Arts, as a member of the Music Therapy Student Association and as this year's Arts Senator where he has devoted much of his time and effort in advocating and representing the students of the Caine College of the Arts. Nathan has worked hard in addressing mental health needs, creating unity and networking opportunities between the three departments of the college and advocating for the lack of food options for students in the college. Nathan plans on completing a six-month internship in music therapy upon graduation.

Alyssa Landroche, Undergraduate Researcher of the Year

Alyssa LandrocheAlyssa Landroché is a senior in the Theatre Education program. Her passion for helping young people through theatre has led to many opportunities where she has been able to demonstrate traditional scholarship, creative work, and pedagogical projects.Alyssa grew to love arts-based research while she served as a co-researcher on a project exploring the experiences of actors who worked on the devised production: Facing Depression in Cache Valley.She has presented findings from this project in peer-reviewed sessions at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference in New Orleans, LA, and the American Educational Research Association Conference in Toronto, CA.Her most exciting project was developing an original Theatre for the Very Young production designed for audiences aged 0-3 years old,which served children who would not otherwise have exposure to theatre and dramatic arts.As an educator, Alyssa has also developed and implemented a reader’s theatre experience for students at Ellis Elementary School in Logan that culminated in a public performance for parents. She has also worked with the ArtsBridge program to teach a drama/biology integrated lesson to schools around Cache Valley. Alyssa looks forward to continuing to share her love of theatre and learning to young people.

Erin Huld, Undergraduate Teaching Fellow of the Year

Erin HuldErin Huld is from West Jordan, Utah, and grew up playing the piano from a young age. She decided to attend the Piano Program at Utah State University where she has enjoyed teaching piano lssons in the Youth Conservatory, collaborating with other musicians, and working as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in the Keyboard Harmony program. She also loves being involved as a Youth Conservatory Office Assistant and as an accompanist for the USU Women's Choir and Cache Valley Children's Choir. 

Erin Graduated with a bachelor's degree in Piano Pedagogy from Utah State University in December of 2019 and plans to continue working as a teacher and collaborative pianist. She enjoys teaching music to students of all ages in individual and group settings. Watching her students grow as they learn to love music gives her great joy, and she hopes to be a positive influence in the lives of her students. Erin is grateful to all of the USU Music Faculty she has been privileged to work with as they have offered her invaluable guidance and mentor ship. 

Brenda Hawley, AmeriCorps Sustainability Fellow

Brenda HawleyI'm a Cache Valley native and a graduating senior in the graphic design program. During my time at USU, I have discovered that graphic design is a discipline so rich that I can work with it for the rest of my life. Exploring the capacities and potential that art/design hold for essential progress and connection alongside having the privilege to serve the CCA as the Americorps Sustainability Fellow from 2017-20, has given me essential tools and perspective that will serve me well in the future. I’m grateful for my time at USU, and for the opportunity to make a positive difference during my tenure as the CCA AmeriCorps Sustainability Fellow.

I'm happy to report that at the end of my educational career, my appetite for knowledge, growth, and change has only been magnified. After graduation, I’m excited to take the climate change fight to the professional world of graphic design.

When I’m not designing, illustrating, or taking a much-needed nap, you can find me up in the mountains during all seasons of the year.

Brooke Rydalch, Bill E Robins Memorial Award Nominee

Brooke RydalchMy name is Brooke Rydalch and I was born and raised in Kaysville, Utah. Four years ago I came to Logan with the goal to study interior design and I will be graduating this spring. I had the opportunity to complete a summer internship in Salt Lake City, Utah with Denton House Design Studios and am currently working as an interior design intern at Malouf in Logan, Utah.Upon graduation, I plan to stay with Malouf as a junior designer. 

Growing up I had many opportunities to serve in my community, specifically with those with disabilities. As I spent many years witnessing the daily struggles those with disabilities face, accessibility and environmental healing became important to me. These experiences lead me to find a passion for implementing my creativity into practical and functional uses.

I enjoy and seek involvement in the changing design industry by being a part of national organizations (ASID, IIDA, USGBC). I am inspired by the history of our world and the developed cultures which surround and influence us. I enjoy traveling and spending time with my husband. My other hobbies include writing, yoga, and sketching. 

Madeline Julian, Legacy of Utah State Nominee

Madeline JulianMadeline Julian is graduating this spring with a BM in clarinet performance and a minor in psychology. Hailing from Danville, Illinois, Madeline started playing the clarinet at the age of 9 and has loved it ever since. During the past four years at Utah State, Madeline has participated in several different university ensembles, including the USU Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Aggie Pep Band, Clarinet Choir, and the Aggie Marching Band, where she has served as drum major for the past two seasons. Madeline is also an active member and current president of Tau Beta Sigma, the national honorary band sorority on campus, which helps serve the USU band program and community in many capacities. Madeline is grateful for the many music experiences and leadership opportunities that she has had during her time at Utah State, and she hopes to make her Alma Mater proud as she continues to pursue her goals in music and service.


Utah Music Teachers Association, Student Organization of the Year

The Utah State University Collegiate Chapter of the Utah Music Teachers Association is an active student organization that exemplifies the ways in which a student organization can provide career-oriented experiences for students while meeting needs within the university and local communities.

The heart of the UMTA local chapter is the community of piano majors that teach in the USU Youth Conservatory, which provides private and group piano instruction to over 150 pre-college pianists each week.A central goal of the Youth Conservatory is to make music learning accessible and fun for young pianists, and ultimately, their work serves to bring the Cache Valley community together through music events such as the annual Monster Concert, PianoFest, Piano Levels Achievement Day, and various recitals throughout the year.

In addition to Youth Conservatory events, the chapter members are involved with regular teacher development workshops and music teacher conferences at the state and national levels.Last November, they were recognized as UMTA’s “Student Chapter of the Year”, and many chapter members attended and presented at the Music Teacher National Conference in Chicago this past month.

The faculty advisors for USU Collegiate Chapter are piano faculty members Kevin Olson, Emily Ezola, and Cahill Smith.

Danielle Casos, Presser Award

Danielle CasosDanielle Casós is from Eagle, Idaho and is currently a junior at Utah State University. She is in the Vocal Performance program studying under Dr. Cindy Dewey. Danielle is a member of the USU Opera Outreach Quartet and the Caine Scholars for Excellence. In January, she was chosen as the winner of the 2nd Annual USU Aria Competition, in addition to receiving 2nd Place in both the Upper-College Classical and Musical Theatre Categories at the Cal-West Regional NATS Auditions. Danielle was a winner of the USU 2019 Concerto Competition, and performed with the USU Symphony Orchestra last spring. Last summer, Danielle performed with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre as a member of the ensemble in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, and was an understudy for Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins. Danielle has appeared in USU Opera Theatre’s production of Hansel and Gretel (2019) as Mother, and prepared the role of First Lady for USU's production of Die Zauberflöte (2020). 

Rachel Hancey, Talent of the Year from Art + Design

Rachel HanceyRachel is a Printmaker and Artist based out of Logan, Utah. She is graduating Utah State University this spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a studio emphasis in printmaking. While she is not originally from Cache Valley, she considers it her home as she was living and working here independently when she made the decision to return to school to complete her education.

Rachel has lived in various states throughout the western United States and draws inspiration from the west’s vast open spaces and seemingly endless landscape. Her undergraduate education has culminated into a body of work rooted in the aesthetic experience of sublime moments of light. Rachel explores the ways in which light allows us to discern space, material, and time. This exploration has driven her visual research and has provided an infinite source of inspiration across all media.

Upon graduation she intends on taking a couple of years off from school to travel and to continue building her career as an artist. She looks forward to attending a graduate program in the near future to actualize her aspirations of teaching art at a university.

Hillary Dalton, Talent of the Year from Music

Hillary DaltonHillary Dalton is a senior at Utah State University and is majoring in violin performance and Spanish. Throughout her musical career, Hillary has enjoyed many opportunities such as solo performances with orchestra, international tours with chamber orchestra, concertmaster positions and has received high honors in several competitions. She has studied with many great artists such as Bonnie Romkey, Monte Belknap and is currently studying with Robert Waters, first violinist of the Fry Street Quartet. Hillary has appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra of Southern Utah, Southwest Symphony, University Symphony of BYU and will again be soloing with orchestra in April with USU’s own symphony. Her international tours with chamber orchestra include tours to Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey and the Philippines.

Hillary not only studies music and performs on the violin, but she also enjoys using her talent to serve people in the community and around the state. She particularly enjoys performing at assisted living centers, benefit concerts and community events. In addition to her music, Hillary devotes a lot of time organizing service projects to aid elementary schools in Guatemala.

Blake Brundy, Talent of the Year from Theatre

Blake BrundyMy name is Blake Brundy and I was born and raised in Lompoc, California in the Santa Barbra County. Growing up in catholic school for 9 years straight, I learned Golden age musical songs from our choir teacher. Being inspired by music, and actors I saw in films, I starred in my first Professional musical at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts at 12 years old. In high school I was recruited by a talent scout to compete as the number one High School musical performer in the state of California, for which I won second place at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood along with a scholarship grant. Graduated from Lompoc High school a year early and went straight to the Pacific Conservatory for the performing arts to study theatre acting, graduating in 2017. I have trained as a Ballet, tap and classical/modern jazz dancer for 10 years in a professional studio. Musical theater led me to performing solo in concerts around California. Most notably with Grammy Award winning violinist Mads Tolling. My plans are to pursue a career on Broadway and move into film and music work in LA.

Hannah Baldwin, Outstanding Senior from Art + Design

Hannah BaldwinBorn in Salt Lake to an artistic father and a highly organized mother, Hannah was raised to appreciate beauty and functionality. From a young age, she has aspired to become an interior designer so that she can shape lives by making people’s surroundings more beautiful and functional. She is grateful for the opportunities her education at USU has given her to achieve her goals. Hannah has a passion for learning of people, cultures, and languages and she takes every opportunity she can to travel. After graduation, she hopes to live and work abroad doing high-end hospitality and retail design. In the few moments she is not furiously working in the studio, she likes to read, paint, hike, and spend time with family.

Katya Fullmer, Outstanding Senior from Art + Design

Katya FullmerI am from Springville, Utah. I am an Art Education Major with an emphasis in printmaking. Growing up, I’ve had some truly inspiring art teachers. Due to their influence I decided to become a teacher, and Utah State was the best place to do it. I originally came to Utah State with the intention to emphasize in drawing and painting, but after I took my first printmaking class I was hooked. I quickly changed my emphasis area. I had never experienced any kind of printmaking until my second year here, so I knew that there must be others who hadn’t been exposed to it as well. As an art teacher at a secondary school I can expose students to different kinds of art media than the traditional painting, drawing, and sculpture. I also knew I needed to pursue printmaking due to the nature of my work. My work explores themes of feminism, sexism, and women’s roles through fairy tales and folklore. For years the most common access to stories and culture was through folklore and fairy tales. Printmaking has actively participated in this dissemination of information to a wide audience, as well as social justice.

Lah Poe Shi, Outstanding Senior from Art + Design

Lah Poe ShiLah Poe Shi is a BFA candidate with an emphasis in art education and drawing and painting. She participated in the Summer Study Abroad Program, experiencing and creating art in Germany. Lah Poe was part in numerous exhibitions during her time at USU. While attending school, she worked alongside an art educator to teach puppet-making at local elementary schools. Lah Poe Shi completed her practicum at local middle and high schools. She is currently student teaching at a middle school in Providence, Utah.

Kaelie Gillespie, Outstanding Senior from Music

Kaelie GillespieKaelie Gillespie grew up in St. George, Utah and has loved studying music therapy at Utah State University. She is grateful for the many opportunities she has had in her undergraduate experience, including being a member of the symphony orchestra, the Logan Institute Singers, the Music Therapy Student Association board, the Music Department Student Advisory Council, and the Utah Association of Music Therapy. Kaelie has also been blessed to learn from amazing mentors and individuals in her practicum experiences in a special education classroom, a memory care unit, community music therapy groups, and a developmental disability agency. In 2018, she was awarded the Clinical Musicianship Scholarship for her academic and clinical work. 

In August Kaelie will begin a 10-month internship at Hartvigsen, a school for students with disabilities in grades kindergarten through post high. After passing the national board exam to become a credentialed music therapist, she plans to work mainly with children, youth, and adults with developmental disabilities.

Kaelie enjoys hiking, writing music, playing games with her friends and family, and eating food. She loves life and loves people. Kaelie is excited to continue learning and growing into the music therapist and person she strives to become.

Abigail Dean, Outstanding Senior from Music

Abigail DeanAbigail Dean came to Utah State from Aledo, Texas in Fall of 2016. She decided to brave the cold and snow to get her degree from this incredible program. She is a music therapy major with minors in psychology and human development and family studies. Abby feels grateful to have served the USU Music Therapy Student Association as Sophomore Representative, President Elect, and, currently, as President. She has been able to find a home away from home in the music therapy program and in the Kappa Delta sorority. After finishing her coursework, Abby will complete her degree requirements with a six-month internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee beginning in June. Upon completion, she will take the board certification exam to become a credentialed music therapist, and hopes to work with children in either a pediatric setting or a private practice. She is excited to use the time she devoted to homework for some of her favorite things like spending time with her family, singing with her husband, teaching piano lessons, baking, and watching sunsets.

Abby feels so blessed to have studied her passion at USU with the constant support of her husband, parents, music therapy family, and professors while being surrounded by a beautiful campus and amazing friends.

Megan Warburton, Outstanding Senior from Music

Megan WarburtonMegan Warburton, soprano, is from Bountiful, Utah and has enjoyed her involvement in the Caine College of the Arts. As a Vocal Performance major, she has sung the roles of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Second Woman in Dido and Aeneas, and Emily in Help, Help, the Globolinks! This spring she will sing the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She was a winner of the Utah State University Concerto Competition in 2017 and 2019. She has also received several awards including, 1st place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions in regional classical and musical theatre divisions and 1st place and audience choice award in the USU Aria Competition. She is a member of the Caine Scholars, the Chamber Singers, the USU Opera Outreach Quartet, and serves as a music theory Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, Writing Fellow, and University Ambassador.

Callie Lythgoe, Outstanding Senior from Theatre

Callie LythgoeCallie Lythgoe has always had a love for beautiful things and the meaning behind them. She discovered costuming as a way to combine her long-time love of theatre with her budding interest in fashion. Since then, she has found a passion and ambition for design and wants to take it as far as she can go. She is inspired by her love for the ocean and all things fantasy. Studying historic clothing sparked a vintage-inspired personal style that she has become known for. This year she was able to design her dream show, She Kills Monsters. She plans on attending graduate school in the fall, and can’t wait to see what comes next.

Alyssa Landroche, Outstanding Senior from Theatre

Alyssa LandrocheAlyssa Landroché is a senior in the Theatre Education program. Her passion for helping young people through theatre has led to many opportunities where she has been able to demonstrate traditional scholarship, creative work, and pedagogical projects. Alyssa grew to love arts-based research while she served as a co-researcher on a project exploring the experiences of actors who worked on the devised production: Facing Depression in Cache Valley. She has presented findings from this project in peer-reviewed sessions at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference in New Orleans, LA, and the American Educational Research Association Conference in Toronto, CA. Her most exciting project was developing an original Theatre for the Very Young production designed for audiences aged 0-3 years old, which served children who would not otherwise have exposure to theatre and dramatic arts. As an educator, Alyssa has also developed and implemented a reader’s theatre experience for students at Ellis Elementary School in Logan that culminated in a public performance for parents. She has also worked with the ArtsBridge program to teach a drama/biology integrated lesson to schools around Cache Valley. Alyssa looks forward to continuing to share her love of theatre and learning to young people.

Cat Evangelho, Outstanding Senior from Theatre

Cat EvangelhoCat is a proud native of Fresno, California, where she grew up with 6 brothers and 2 sisters. She spent her childhood dancing, drawing, and ardently playing dress-up in her backyard. She discovered theatre at a local Shakespeare festival and attended Roosevelt School of the Arts. Cat trained and worked as an actor at the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California, before attending Utah State. Her credits at PCPA include Beauty and the Beast and the West Coast regional premiere of Newsies. At USU, Cat has enjoyed performing in Anna Karenina, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Pericles, She Kills Monsters, and The Crucible. She has learned so much here at Caine College of the Arts and is thankful to her professors for investing their time and energy in her growth. In her free time, Cat reads novels, paints woodland gnomes, plays Dungeons and Dragons, and wanders the woods of Logan Canyon. She’ll be joining the Lyric Rep’s summer season in All Shook Up, Hudson, and The Thanksgiving Play before moving to L.A.

Graduate Student Awards

Megan Thomas, Graduate Student Instructor of the Year

Megan ThomasMegan Thomas is an MFA candidate in the ceramics area. Her work explores human consciousness as a branch of animal consciousness and how personal collapse and environmental collapse mirror each other. Through sculpted figurative and animal sculpture, she tells stories about how people and animals respond to biological and emotional scarcity. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and has worked with children and adults in public libraries and arts-based nonprofits across the country. She has a special interest in how art (past and present) reflects attitudes towards the environment, and how it helps its creators navigate changing environments. Many of her installations ask for participation--through taking, leaving, or finding. She loves to collaborate with makers who have taken circuitous paths toward art.

In the fall of 2019, Megan facilitated an experimental installation titled “Prickly Thoughts” to talk about stress and anxiety among college students and staff, for which she received a Graduate Student Fellowship from the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts. Megan teaches beginning sculpture techniques and problem solving to 3D Design students in the Department of Art &Design.

Adam Lefebvre, Master's Student Researcher of the Year

Adam LefebvreBorn and raised in Regina, Canada, Adam Lefebvre earned a BFA in Ceramic sat the Alberta College of Art + Design, in 2015. Adam is currently in pursuing an MFA at Utah State University, in Logan Utah. He has exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada and the USA, and he has participated in residencies at Medalta International Artists in Residence, the Banff Centre for the Arts and Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark. Specializing in atmospheric firing, Adam’s functional pottery and vessel-based sculpture studies the vestigial –visible traces or remnants of something no longer present.

Faculty and Staff Awards 

Marissa Vigneault, Faculty Researcher/Scholar/Creative Artist of the Year

Marissa VigneaultMarissa Vigneault’s research focuses on the role of performance and perform activity in modern and contemporary art, with particular attention on the construction of identity in visual culture (fashion, burlesque, and films). Dr. Vigneault’s current research examines pioneering feminist artist Hannah Wilke (1940-1993), whose body-oriented performances and video art in the 1970s contributed to the art world’s re-visioning of the female nude. The study emphasizes Wilke’s art’s connections with New York City’s avant-garde fashion industry, department stores, burlesque clubs, cinema and television, and other “low culture” displays of female nudity and feminine spectacle in order to demonstrate the intersection between her feminist tactics and those of mass-market consumerism. Dr. Vigneault’s publications include essays in Women’s Studies and the anthology Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, as well as numerous essays for museum catalogues. She has presented her research at the College Art Association conference; Popular Culture Association conference; Feminist Art History conference; University of Johannesburg; Columbia University; Association of Art Historians conference; SECAC; and Association of Historians of American Art conference. She is currently lead book reviews editor for Panorama, the online peer-review journal of the Association of Historians of American Art.

Dennise Gackstetter, Community Engaged Faculty

Dennise GackstetterDennise Gackstetter is a Senior Lecturer and Art Education Coordinator in the Department of Art & Design at Utah State University. Dennise is a passionate educator and believes that the arts are essential to persons of all ages. She has offered art classes, art workshops, and professional development workshops in public schools, colleges, and universities regionally, nationally, and internationally including Japan, Cuba, and Czech Republic. Dennise is an accomplished ceramic artist whose work has been exhibited in many venues regionally and nationally. The nature of her spirit calls Dennise to action in many ways and for many reasons. She feels it is essential to a meaningful life for her to be an active contributing member in the many communities in which she lives and works. As she serves others alongside her students, colleagues, friends, and community members she witnesses the impact of empathy, the importance of integrity, and the value of being a personal connection.

Emily Ezola, Community Engaged Faculty

Emily EzolaEmily Ezola is the Director of the Youth Conservatory and Group Piano Class program at Utah State University. She serves as the Executive Director of the Fry Street Chamber Music Festival and is the Chamber Music Society of Logan program committee chairman. Emily currently studies with Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano at Eastman School of Music.

Alvaro Ibarra, College Diversity Award

Alvaro IbarraDr. Alvaro Ibarra earned his Ph.D. in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an art historian and a field archaeologist specializing in the material culture of ancient Rome. His research examines the contributions of marginalized peoples to ancient Roman society, from Rome itself through the provinces of the Roman Empire. He also specializes in modern to contemporary Latin American and Latina/o/x art, teaching, publishing, and curating on various topics related to the Latinx experience in the United States. Alvaro Ibarra is co-curator of the Latinx exhibition currently on display at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.

Lane Weaver, Faculty Service Award

Lane WeaverDr. Lane Weaver is Director of Athletic Bands and Assistant Director of Bands at Utah State University. He directs the Aggie Marching Band, the Aggie Basketball Pep Band, the Low Brass Choir, assists with the Symphonic Band and Cache Wind Symphony, and teaches applied low brass.

Dr. Weaver is an active arranger of music for marching band and various brass ensembles. His works have been performed by several universities in the midwest, west, and south. Dr Weaver's original compositions for brass are published by Cimarron Music Press. He has commissioned brass choir compositions from Jeff Jordan and Nathan Brown and created brass arrangements of works by the likes of Philip Sparke, James Curnow, and James Meador. Dr. Weaver was recently featured as soloist for the world premiere of Nathan Froebe's Lucid Dreams for Trombone and Concert Band. He has presented workshops on the use of vocalization by instrumentalists and practice techniques. He maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and adjudicator and enjoys visiting high school and junior high band programs. International concert performances as a conductor and trombone soloist include appearances in Austrailia (Sydney Opera House), New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Ireland, and Canada. 

Prior to his appointment at USU, Dr. Weaver served as Director of Athletic Bands and Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Dr. Weaver also served as an Assistant Band Director at the University of Notre Dame and as a music pastor. Originally from southeast Idaho, Dr. Weaver holds a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Utah State University, a Masters of Music in trombone performance from the University of Notre Dame, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind band conducting from the University of Kentucky. He is married to Elizabeth Weaver (USU '99-Early Childhood Education) and has three children - Luke, Grace, and Daniel.

Shawn Fisher, Graduate Mentor of the Year

Shawn FisherShawn Fisher’s creative research includes over 200 projects in design, playwriting, production, and directing. His original play scripts include SCOPE, THE (OBSOLETE) UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS, FEAR NOT BEASTS OF SAND, STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER, and THE SHUCK. His play HOW TO MAKE A ROPE SWING (Original Works Publishing) won an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and was featured in the “Best Monologues and Scenes” book series by Hal Leonard Publishing. Shawn was twice nominated for both the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics and the Stavis National Playwriting awards and was a finalist for the Osborn Award. His play DO NOT HIT GOLF BALLS INTO MEXICO was a national finalist for the Nuestras Voces and the David M. Cohen playwriting awards. He is the Director of the National Playwrights Symposium where he collaborates with many esteemed Tony and Pulitzer-winning playwrights to mentor rising artists. Shawn has created designs for plays, musicals, and operas throughout the country and his various works have been staged Off-Broadway at Repertorio Español, Urban Stages, Woken Glacier, and Gene Frankel Theatre as well as in Los Angeles at the L.A. Theatre Center and the Fremont Centre Theatre. He earned his MFA from Brandeis University and is a native of New Jersey.

Fazilat Soukhakian, Undergraduate Research Mentor

Fazilat SoukhakianFazilat Soukhakian is an Iranian artist, photographer and assistant professor of photography at the Department of Art & Design at Utah State University. Fascinated by human interest stories and what they tell us about society, she started her career as a photojournalist for one of the major news agencies in Iran. By witnessing the struggles of people around her from all walks of life, her work started evolving from being an observer to becoming an active participant in trying to highlight and deal with the issues of her surroundings through visual art. She considers herself a visual storyteller who observes and records her concerns regarding social and political issues that surround her as a means for social change and justice. Her work reflects on contemporary issues concerning gender inequality, gender segregation, and the loss of national identity. Her photography is a combination of a theoretical and historical understanding of space combined with the creation of human-interest stories, which result out of her observations and experiences. Her work has been shown throughout national and international exhibitions, and she has received a multitude of awards and recognition.

Sherie Jensen, Outstanding Staff Employee of the Year

Sherie JensenSherie Jensen was born and raised in Riverton, Utah. She passed through Logan after graduating from high school and decided to attend USU. She loves Cache Valley and has made it her forever home. She was hired at USU after 23 years at ATK/Thiokol in Promontory, Utah where she worked as an administrative assistant and property auditor for NASA. Sherie loves country music much to the dismay of the Music department. She has learned a new vocabulary working in Music and continues to do so daily. She enjoys attending concerts, home decorating and trying to train her puppy Hazel.

Angela Neff, Professional Advisor of the Year

Angela NeffAngela grew up in the halls of the Fine Arts Center where her father worked as a professor. When she got the job as an academic advisor working with the Theatre and Art + Design students, it felt a bit like coming home for her. She loves working with these extremely talented and motivated students and she enjoys seeing the creative results of their hard work when she attends their shows, plays, and exhibits. Even with all of the challenges facing our students these days, she finds it inspiring to see how resilient and driven our CCA students are. Before being an advisor in this college, she spent 10 years in the library at USU teaching students how to do academic research. She lives on five acres in the shadow of the Wellsville mountains with her husband, dog Huckleberry, and cat Fuzz. She spends most of her spare time outdoors or experimenting in the kitchen.