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Welcome to the fall edition of the TTU Arts newsletter for the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA). We collect many exciting stories to share with you throughout the year and have selected a few for you to explore through this publication. 

In addition to the many noteworthy accomplishments originating from our college and its three schools, I am pleased to share in this issue that my first Dean's Advisory Council was established in October, where we had the privilege of convening to engage in a productive session of brainstorming and collaboration. Comprised of esteemed individuals from various spheres of expertise, the council will contribute to elevating the excellence of our college, fostering innovative ideas and strategies that will further enhance our education and artistic endeavors. Also, stay tuned for the spring issue of TTU Arts, where we'll share with you our newly defined values culture. This collaborative endeavor unified the entire college, including faculty, staff, and students, as we collectively articulated and delineated the core principles we hold dear. These shared values will serve as a cornerstone for upholding the integrity and excellence of TCVPA.

I invite each of you to join us at our array of upcoming events, from exhibitions, to workshops, concerts, performances, and theatrical plays, as we work to strengthen our dynamic and vibrant community. Access our calendar link to stay updated! It is my aspiration that we maintain this connection and continue working together to enhance our programs and support our students, ensuring that the arts and our college's future continue their upward trajectory.

Dr. Martin Camacho, Dean, J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts



Mark Charney to be Inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre

Mesquite Mile
Mark Charney

School of Theatre & Dance Director Mark Charney, has been invited to become a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre during a ceremony scheduled for spring 2024 in Washington, D.C.  

Becoming a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre is a prestigious honor and a testament to Charney's significant contributions to the theatre profession. This recognition acknowledges his outstanding service and places him among a distinguished group of theatre artists, educators, and scholars who have made significant impacts on the American theatre scene. This honor is only granted by nomination and election from the current members. The ceremony will be a memorable and well-deserved celebration of his accomplishments.

Professors Dirk Fowler and Lynwood Kreneck Have Been Named to the West Texas Walk of Fame

Dirk Fowler Lynwood Kreneck
pictured top to bottom: Dirk Fowler and Lynwood Kreneck

Two School of Art professors who have 60 years combined teaching at Texas Tech, were inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame durning a cermony on September 28, 2023. Both recipients have had their artwork shared and exhibited throughout the world during their successful careers. Fowler, a graphic designer who thinks of himself as a visual problem solver, is “honored by this milestone and looking forward to many more years of contributing to the local arts community.” Very pleased to have recieved this recognition, Kreneck, known for his printmaking and water-based screenprinting invention, says he “had a wonderful career at Texas Tech and worked with talented professionals who he respects greatly.”  

Jared Roberts was Elected Vice Co-Chair for Design, Technology & Management (DMT) for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 6

Jared Roberts
Jared Roberts

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

Associate Director of Productions and Assistant Professor of Scenic & Performance Design, Roberts will work in this capacity as DMT vice co-chair, alongside Associate Professor Mallory Prucha, who serves at the DMT co-chair.

Orchestra Director Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr. Performs for the Pope

Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr. directs the orchestra

A total of 53 musicians including eight from Russia, eight from Ukraine, 12 from Italy, and 25 from Brazil, came together to form an ensemble that performed in Rome during the Concerts for Peace. Among them a 10 year old child prodigy flew in with his mom from Russia and was part of the ensemble. Texas Tech Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr., says he (the child prodigy) could play all the repertoire with no problem. They sat him with the 2nd violins but he could have played with the 1st violins. 

The musical performances, under the direction of conductors José Renato Accioly, current musical coordinator of the project, and Lanfranco, his predecessor in office and guest regent, took place at the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica and in the Paul VI Audience Hall. The later performance was attended by Pope Francis on Saturday, November 4, 2023.

The idea of the Concerts for Peace, bringing together Russian and Ukrakian musicians playing a concert in the presence of the Pope, was born through João Targino, founder of the Citizen Child Orchestra. He thought that these musicians producing art, side by side, not being in an environment of war, we would be demonstrating that ‘in art, there is no war'.

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Craig and Ann McDonald Make $1 Million Gift to the Texas Tech University Jazz Studies Program

Jazz Group
photo credit: Karina Dozal

The largest gift in the program's history will have a tremendous impact on student scholarships and experiences offered in Jazz Studies.

By Haleigh Erramouspe

October 3, at the jazz concert performed by students in the School of Music, the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts announced a $1 million gift from Craig and Ann McDonald to the Jazz Studies Program at Texas Tech University.

The gift from the McDonalds established the McDonald Family Jazz Support Endowment which will provide funds in perpetuity for student scholarships, equipment purchases, travel for student experiences and other needs of the program. 

Jazz Saxophone

“On behalf of the jazz faculty and the School of Music, we are truly grateful to the McDonald family for their generosity and support over these many years,” said Chair of Jazz and Associate Professor of Jazz Studies Ben Haugland. “A gift of this magnitude is transformative for our program. It furthers the art form and provides generations of musicians the opportunity to pursue jazz.” To honor the gift from the McDonalds, ensembles from the Jazz Studies Program, the Texas Tech Jazz Orchestra and the Texas Tech Jazz Ensemble, dedicated their performance of Craig and Ann's favorite song, “That's All,” to the couple. They also presented them with a framed copy of the title page of the special arrangement to commemorate the event.

Jazz“Ann and Craig's commitment to jazz in our community and the Jazz Studies Program at Texas Tech University is remarkable,” said Director of the School of Music Andrew Stetson. “Their belief in our students and faculty has led them to take action that leaves a lasting and permanent legacy. Their generosity will allow our program to flourish, providing opportunities for talented musicians to reach their full potential and share their artistry on the global stage.”

McDonald Family
photo credit: Karina Dozal

Craig and Ann McDonald, who live in Lubbock, have always had a love and affinity for jazz music. In addition to their support of the Jazz Studies Program at Texas Tech, they have helped in various capacities with the Caprock Jazz Concert held in Lubbock each year and consider many of the musicians close friends.  

The McDonalds have been long-time supporters of the School of Music through both their time and philanthropic contributions. They have attended nearly every concert held by the Jazz Studies Program, including its annual Jazz in January Concert, and have been members of the Friends of Music since 2007. 

"We both just love jazz music," Ann said, “and our parents laid a foundation for us to follow an example of investing in what you love. Being able to support jazz music, while also supporting students who want to learn and succeed, was just the perfect combination for us.”

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BELONGING: Contemporary Native Ceramics from the Southern Plains

Curated by Klinton Burgio-Ericson, Ph.D. for Landmark Arts in the School of Art
Presented at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts, February 2 - March 23, 2024

Belonging describes myriad relations among people, places, materials, and the other inhabitants of our world; it is a richness of mutual obligation and reciprocity beyond strident assertions of “identity.” Belonging is about caring, responsibility, and appreciation. It expresses the complexity and interrelatedness of being together: “[…] it is not simply who you claim to be, but also who claims you.” 

With its many and diverse entanglements, the concept of belonging grounds a fresh exploration of contemporary Native art in clay from the Southern Plains.  Presented at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) and curated by Klinton Burgio-Ericson, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history of the Americas, in the School of Art, this exhibit spotlights the diversity of contemporary ceramics practices among Native American artists in the region, and their reflections on belonging based in particular cultural roots, ancestral connections, personal insights, and individual experiences. Curating selected works by seven Native artists, this show incorporates a range of artistic practices from futuristic and customary works based on vessel forms, to more experimental practices that push clay in new directions through multi-media installation and performance. 

My First Memory #2Karita Coffey, My First Memory #2, glazed ceramic. On loan courtesy of the artist.

Seeking to draw upon Indigenous curatorial protocols such as respect for Indigenous lands, collaborative engagement, and honoring mentoring relationships, this show will feature Karita Coffey (Comanche) as a spotlight artist and speaker. Texas Tech sits on the Indigenous lands of the Comanchería, and forging relationships and ongoing engagement with Comanche Nation and its people are therefore imperative ethical objectives, especially as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Red River War that displaced Comanche people from this area. Ms. Coffey is notable as a Comanche ceramicist, since her community does not have a customary tradition of working in clay. Her work in vessels, carefully rendered trompe l'oeil representations of Plains Indian customary materials, and experiments in metal casting present a range of understated but conceptually challenging works of art. Coffey has been a participant in the efflorescence of contemporary Native arts over the past five decades, as one of the first female students to attend Santa Fe's Institute for American Indian Art (IAIA), and later upon her return as an instructor there for twenty five years. 

Red River Dreaming
Raven Halfmoon, Red River Dreaming, 2022. On loan courtesy of Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock.

Representing a new generation of ceramics artists Anita Fields (Osage) will join Coffey in presenting the keynote conversation during the Ceramics Symposium. Fields creates works of clay and textile that reflect the worldview of her Native Osage culture. Landscapes, environment, and the influences of nature are themes found throughout the work of Anita Fields. They reflect time, place, and how the earth holds the memory of cultures who once called a specific terrain home. 

Stylistically very different, work by these two artists anchors our show conceptually and historically, rooted in the theme of belonging, a word which can imply tribal and cultural affiliations, as well as their complexity among increasingly diverse lives and families. Belonging can describe relationships of an artist with specific places and their occupants, or with the earth herself from which clay comes. An artist's work might belong to particular ancestral or customary artistic traditions, bringing innovations that keep the forms alive, or it might be part of an envisioned future of Indigenous presence and vitality. Belonging might situate an artist within a particular school of artistic production, or as part of a series of intellectual transmission through mentorship and leaning. 

Out of the earth and cultural milieu of the Plains, Native ceramics comprise a diverse and vibrant artistic discourse that embraces a breadth of formal solutions from vessel-based artworks to wildly experimental multimedia installations and performance. Artists come from cultural backgrounds with deep ancestral ties to the southern plains, and from communities displaced through histories of settler colonialism and genocide. Their work speaks to varied strategies of intervention in the art world and different stories of training, preparation, and process. Belonging is not simply about possession or the bonds of a nuclear family; belonging means all the complex ways in which we are dependent upon and generous with one another. 

This exhibition will take place February 2 - March 23, 2024, timed to coincide with the planned 2024 Texas Ceramics Symposium that the School of Art will be hosting February 23-24, 2024. Together, these events will generate an increased interest and energy around ceramics but also Native art during the Spring 2024 semester. This will be a propitious time to take on these themes, since it will also mark the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Red River War. The Humanities Center theme for 2024-2025 will focus on Indigenous resilience, and we believe that our exhibition plans will coincide well and contribute to these events.

Artists Karita Coffey and Anita Fields will be keynote speakers at the 2024 Texas Ceramics Symposium.

Artists in the exhibition include: Karita Coffey (Comanche), Chase Kawinhut Earles (Caddo), Anita Fields (Osage), Raven Halfmoon (Osage), Cortney YellowHorse-Metzger (Osage), and Jane Osti (Cherokee).

Movement of the Sun II
Anita Fields, Movement of the Sun II, 2011. On loan courtesy of Dr. & Mrs. Lamar Meadows, Richmond, TX.

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A Series of Solos: Concerto Competition Winners Performing with the USO the Fall

Student winners of the 2022 String, Woodwind, Brass, Keyboard, and Voice area of the Texas Tech University Concerto Competition will be performing as soloists with the University Symphony Orchestra this fall. Read along to learn more about this process and the journey of these talented artists!

By Anna K.

Every year, students compete in their designated area concerto competition. These competitions are done in the string, woodwind, brass, keyboard, and voice area. Students must compete with their chosen solo piece that can be accompanied by orchestra. In preparation for the competition, students practice daily for hours, analyze the orchestral score, and do as many mock performances as they can to prepare themselves for the day of the competition.

String area winner, Jascha Gonzalez, began this semester's solo performances on Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 PM in the University Symphony Orchestra's String Concert, “A String Serenade,” in the Buddy Holly Hall - Crickets Theater. Jascha is currently a 2nd year DMA student, studying violin performance with Dr. John Haspel Gilbert. He performed the 5th movement of “The Serenade ‘After Symposium' for violin, string orchestra, harp, and percussion by Leonard Bernstein. Jascha performed on the “J.B. Vuillaume 1844” violin lent by Dr. Gilbert.

“This is a very jazzy piece, but it is hard for the soloist, the orchestra, and the conductor. I worked hard with my professor trying to get very clear musical ideas and maintain a stable pulse, so that way it will be easier for the conductor and the orchestra to follow me. Feeling secure with these aspects allows some room to enjoy the music. Besides the technique, I always focus to enjoy the experience of doing music, trying to share this feeling to my orchestra colleagues and the audience. If they enjoy, I enjoy!”

As the other soloists require a full orchestra for their pieces, their performances will be featured on Sunday, November 19 at 7:30 PM in the Buddy Holly Hall - Crickets Theater. Although the rehearsals with orchestra haven't begun yet for their solo performances, these students have been working diligently for their collaboration with the USO.

Woodwind area winner, Claire Salli will be performing Takashi Yoshimatsu's Cyber Bird Concerto Movements 2 and 3, Bird in Grief and Bird in the Wind. Claire is currently a DMA student studying saxophone performance with Dr. David Dees. She shares with us her excitement on playing with the USO and journey back to her preparation. “I took a break from my piece after winning last year and have slowly been reintroducing it back into my practice routine. I've been recording myself a lot and listening to other recordings, my favorite is Nobuya Sugawa's. I am excited to play with the USO! This is currently my favorite piece of saxophone repertoire, I can't wait to hear it with an orchestra.”

Chandlar Head, voice area winner, will be performing Meine Lippen sie küßen so heiß, from the opera, Giuditta, by Franz Lehár. Chandlar is currently a 2nd year masters student, studying vocal performance with Dr. Rebecca Hays. “I prepared this piece last spring and coached it alongside Dr. Bill Averill as well as prepared it with my voice teacher Dr. Rebecca Hays. It is a privilege to be able to work alongside such incredible musicians every day and know that when I step out on stage to perform, I am completely prepared to do my job as an artist thanks to the guidance of these amazing musicians.”

Brass area winner, John Stacy, shares with us his excitement to perform Horn Concerto in A minor by Kurt Atterberg with the USO. John Stacy is currently a DMA student studying horn performance with Professor Christopher M. Smith. “I have been regularly refreshing the piece throughout the semester. I have also spent some time tightening up some technical areas of the piece that were not as consistent as I would have liked when I performed the concerto with piano reduction for my first DMA recital last spring. I look forward to sharing the beautiful second movement with the orchestra and getting to dwell in the sounds together.”

Miri Park, piano area winner will be performing the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. Miri is currently a DMA student studying piano with Professor Daniel del Pino and Piano Pedagogy with Dr. Carla Davis Cash. She shares with us that she is “elated to have won in the Piano area.” Her days have been consumed with meticulous practice, pouring my heart into every note. “As rehearsals unfold, I eagerly anticipate the harmonious blend of our passion and dedication to music, looking forward to the electrifying synergy of the live performance.”

To see more of the behind the scenes of the University Symphony Orchestra and the soloists' preparation, follow us on social media!

Series of Solos
Picutred from top to bottom: 
Chandlar Head, Claire Salli, Jascha Gonzalez, John Stacy, and Miri Park

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The Marfa Intensive

The Marfa Intensive is an immersive learning experience that asks students to explore the elements of devised theatre using laboratory, experiential practices.

The eleven day Intensive fosters an educational environment that allows students to learn how environment affects and creates performance; inspires and sharpens collaboration through daily work in all fields of theatre; and obtain a working knowledge of best practices in devising, especially concentrating on design, acting, directing, and playwriting.

Join us as we explore the 2023 Marfa Intensive through the eyes of those who participated.

Participant Perspectives

Cory Norman

Cory Norman, Company Manager

Aphasia is a disorder that affects how a person communicates. Not only can it affect speech, but it also impacts a person's ability to understand both spoken and written language. Caused by damage to the brain--after a stroke, for instance--aphasia is an isolating condition that can take on a variety of forms.

Not all stories depend on words. We've all heard the cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Art can tell a story without words. So can music. And dance. And theater. 

With this in mind, the School of Theatre & Dance partnered both with the Stroke and Aphasia Recovery (StAR) program at Texas Tech's Health Sciences Center and with Silk Road Rising, a Chicago-based arts organization, to focus the 2023 Marfa Intensive on applying devised theatre and dance to help those in aphasia recovery tell their story.

Through a combination of games experimenting with verbal and nonverbal language, image theatre, improvisation, and interviews brought to life with recorded delivery, the Intensive's lead deviser, Sahar Assaf, carefully created a space that cradled emotions and encouraged discovery.

The work wasn't easy. Early on, emotions often toppled over onto uncomfortable silence.  But as Sahar explained, the space they created welcomed all kinds of emotions. Laughter. Anger. Pain. And tears.

For two hours each afternoon, when the persons with aphasia were on break, the theatre and dance students met with Sahar to synthesize many of the stories into a collection of moments. The indefatigable students composed music, wrote poems, and choreographed movement that the larger, complete group would eventually share in a “performance” with the caregivers and representatives from the Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.

Everyone participated. Everyone had a line. Everyone contributed a story to the performance, and the performance was everyone's story. 

For those in the audience, the caregivers, there was hardly a dry eye when everyone sang “Please Understand,” the closing song they originated earlier in the week. It told the story of fascinating people carrying immensely heavy loads who are capable of rising again out of the ashes surrounding them.  The music and words simultaneously provided comfort and strength. 

Sahar Assaf

Sahar Assaf, Guest Artist & Lead Deviser

It's not possible for us, those who are not living with aphasia or caring for someone with aphasia to fully grasp what it means to lose one's words, but through storytelling, music, dance, and deep listening, we managed to capture certain emotions associated with this adversity and through enactments and reenactments we were able to foster a profound sense of understanding, compassion, and love, which is the very essence of theatre.

Shanna Hare

Shanna Hara, BA Dance

It's not possible for us, those who are not living with aphasia or caring for someone with aphasia to fully grasp what it means to lose one's words, but through storytelling, music, dance, and deep listening, we managed to capture certain emotions associated with this adversity and through enactments and reenactments we were able to foster a profound sense of understanding, compassion, and love, which is the very essence of theatre.

Ben Stanford

Ben Stanford, MFA Playwriting

My heart opened to those around me in a refreshing burst of love—a burst you cannot hope to achieve anywhere else but with a small group of people who come together for one specific, devoted purpose, ready to be vulnerable. 

I loved every minute of my time in Marfa, and I wouldn't trade this trip for anything. I mean it. I will never forget this journey.

James Cross

James Cross, BA Theatre

Throughout these two weeks in Marfa there has been one overarching idea that I have been unable to shake: the notion of truthfulness leading to hope. Throughout this Intensive I had been lucky to witness the truthfulness of people and their stories. Heartbreaking, tormenting, unforgettable stories that often rendered me emotionally hungover.

This experience has been life changing, and I don't mean that hyperbolically. It has pushed, provoked, and broken me. But I have come out as a healthier and stronger individual. And for that I will be forever grateful and more hopeful.

Melinda Corwin

Melinda Corwin, Director, TTUHSC Stroke & Aphasia Recovery Program

This Marfa Intensive was a fabulous experience for persons with aphasia; their care partners; and students from theater, dance, and speech-language pathology. It was an opportunity for worlds to collide which would otherwise not necessarily do so. 

Sahar Assaf was an excellent deviser/leader, and I appreciated the variety of exercises and storytelling methods that Sahar used throughout the 11-day experience. When a handful of guests watched our final “rehearsal”/performance, it was moving and magical. I am grateful that the program was willing to explore what “aphasic theater” could be. 

Marfa Group

Marfa DanceDue to their condition of aphasia, Debbie, Rod, Rene, and Malik have difficulty speaking, reading, and writing/typing; however, all four of them rated the Intensive as a “5 out of 5” in terms of being positive, growth-enhancing, and transformational.


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Dean's Advisory Council

Dean's Council

The first advisory council under the direction of Dean Martin Camacho, met for the first time in October 2023. The purpose of the Dean's Advisory Council of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts is to: advocate on behalf of, and raise visibility for, the College; help obtain resources in support of student opportunity, faculty success, facilities, and College partnerships; and advise Dean Martin Camacho in meeting the College's strategic initiatives. We are grateful for the support of the Council, whose membership includes alumni, non-alumni, business and community leaders, and arts professionals.

Picutred from top to bottom, left to right: 
DJ Stout; Dr. Martin Camacho; Benjamin H. Davidson, II; Jack O. Nelson, JR; Tamara Milliken Galbi; John G. Anthony; Lauren E. Shinn; Melissa L. Grimes; Cari L. Dillon; Linda S. Fuller; David R. Griffin; Nicholas C. Dragga.

Members not pictured: Tim J. Crowley and Greg T. Davis

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Jaston Williams ‘71
Workshopped his new musical, The Nerve of Minerva, (book by Jaston Williams and Joe Sears; lyrics by Allen Robertson and Jaston Williams; music by Allen Robertson) to a sold-out house in Austin. Jaston is also finishing his new novel, A Ride with Jimmy Fortune.

Yslan Hicks '84 MFA
Retired after 34 years of teaching at Tulane University, The University of Tulsa, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Rob Wilson '90 BFA
Illustrated the book “Unseen Jungle: The Microbes that Secretly Control Our World” and was featured in a Texas Tech Today article.

Jackie Rosenfeld '06 MFA
The article, “Making Up for Lost Time: New Play Development Post Covid-19,” by Jackie Rosenfeld and Cade M. Sikora was recently published article in The Journal of American Drama and Theatre (JADT).

Jason Lynch '09 BFA
Was the lighting designer for two recent productions at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, The Nacirema Society and Lucha Teotl.

Zachery Kocurek-Gentry '12 BA
Is the theatre director at Lubbock High School and led the school to back-to-back 2nd Runner-up finishes in the State UIL One Act Play Competition. 

Ryan Smith '17 DMA
Assisted in bringing the Lubbock Civic Orchestra to be housed within the Texas Tech School of Music.

Chris Kiley '16 MFA
Named the new executive director of Texans for the Arts beginning November 1, 2023.

Héctor Agüero '05 MM
Hired as new Artistic Director and Conductor for the Laredo Philharmonic.

Ryan Johnson '17 BM
Three-way-tie winner of the 25th Annual Lenya Competition.

B.J. Brooks '08 DMA 
Named Director of the School of Music at West Texas A&M University.

Kristina MacMullen '12 DMA
Appointed Mary Gibbs Jones Chair in Music and Director of Choral Activities at Baylor

Aruna Sax Quartet

Will Pyle ‘20 BM, Jose “Tony” Guzman ‘20 MM, Ryan Hill ‘21 MM, and Andrew Schoen ‘20 DMA
Aruna Sax Quartet members, featured alongside the Texas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble in the workshop premiere of “Second Nature” by international composer, Viet Cuong. (pictured above)

Sergio Manzo '23 MM 
Awarded the position of Resident Artist with Fort Worth Opera.

Sydney Dotson '23 BFA 
Was cast as Belle in Casa Mañana's current production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr.

Submit your alumni updates at: vpa.ttu.edu/alumni

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