The University of Arizona College of Fine Arts

Graduation Convocation

Virtual Ceremony | Fall 2020

Outstanding Seniors

Deborah Ruiz

School of Art & College of Fine Arts

“Deborah Ruiz is an extremely diligent, talented, creative student who has demonstrated her accolades, gaining a 4.0-grade point average. Graphic Design is her focus in the Illustration + Design program. She has gained valuable professional experience creating brands for collegiate athletics and sports marking at the University. She has honed her skills in digital, print, motion graphics, and videography.

Her engagement in the School of Art is outstanding. She has participated virtually in every School of Art event. Exhibitions, community events, volunteer opportunities, field trips, Visiting Artist lectures — she has attended them all. She has been present all the while having to juggle family obligations to help care for a family member with significant health care challenges.

Deborah has won many awards, including The Creative Achievement Award, Dean’s list with distinction, and highest academic distinction. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the 27th international poster biennale | Warsaw Academy Of Fine Arts. We whole-heartedly nominate Deborah Ruiz for this distinguished award.”

Deborah's Full Nomination Letter

To whom it may concern:

I am enthusiastically writing this letter to nominate Deborah Ruiz for the School of Art Outstanding Senior. Deborah is most deserving of this honor. Deborah is a first-generation Wildcat.

Deborah Ruiz is an extremely diligent, talented, creative student who has demonstrated her accolades, gaining a 4.0-grade point average. Graphic Design is her focus in the Illustration + Design program.

She has gained valuable professional experience creating brands for collegiate athletics and sports marking at the University. She has honed her skills in digital, print, motion graphics, and videography.

Her engagement in the School of Art is outstanding.  She has participated virtually in every School of Art event. Exhibitions, community events, volunteer opportunities, field trips, Visiting Artist lectures — she has attended them all. She has been present all the while having to juggle family obligations to help care for a family member with significant health care challenges.

Additionally, being a part of the local and national design community is important to Deborah.  She has been an active student member of the national professional organization— American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA),  as well as a member of the Center for Creative Photography,  Wildcat Club, the Rialto, and the Loft member.  She supports other students by attending their art openings, going to Pima Community College Art exhibits, buying art from local artists, and assisting in the University of Arizona Athletics events. She recently raised money for an American Cancer Society event for November. She has also has volunteered for Habitat for humanity in a construction project, building and repairing homes for the Tucson Community. She also works at the Centurions fundraiser event that supports charitable organizations in Southern Arizona.

Deborah has won many awards, including The Creative Achievement Award, Dean’s list with distinction, and highest academic distinction. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the

27th international poster biennale | Warsaw Academy Of Fine Arts. She has also exhibited in the School of Art and the Steinfield Warehouse.  Deborah has worked on campus as the Graphic Designer for the Athletics Department and the Wildcat Club.

Deb is a part of the invitational School of Art Advising Ambassador program. In this position, Deb has designed a peer-to-peer mentoring thematic weekly event. She has designed social media to share upcoming events with the student community. She has also generously volunteered to help with School of Art events on campus whenever asked.

I whole-heartedly nominate Deborah Ruiz for this distinguished award. Thank you for your consideration.

Best,
Karen Zimmermann
Professor and Assistant Director, School of Art

Deborah Ruiz

Benjamin Ferguson

School of Dance

“Ben stood out as an eager and open individual in the program, and expressed his passion for dance and performance right from the start. His progress as a dancer has been tremendous during his time here!

It has been an absolute pleasure to have him in class and rehearsals, as he has diligently applied constructive critique, is eager to learn and grow, and is a kind and confident person who is obviously supportive of his peers and committed to all of his pursuits at the University of Arizona.”

Benjamin's Full Nomination Letter

It is my pleasure to write a letter in support of Ben Ferguson for Outstanding Senior for the School of Dance for Fall 2020. Ben stood out as an eager and open individual in the program, and expressed his passion for dance and performance right from the start. His progress as a dancer has been tremendous during his time here! It has been an absolute pleasure to have him in class and rehearsals, as he has diligently applied constructive critique, is eager to learn and grow, and is a kind and confident person who is obviously supportive of his peers and committed to all of his pursuits at the University of Arizona. In addition to Ben’s BFA in Dance, he will graduate with a minor in Theatre Arts and a 3.754 GPA. 

As a performer Ben has showcased his versatility throughout his time at the U of A and was cast in faculty works in the ballet, modern, AND jazz areas. Some of his highlights include: Megalopolis, choreographed by Larry Keigwin, and The Perfect Year, choreographed by Claire Hancock.

In addition, Ben has used his skills in film to collaborate with our MFA Candidates in Dance by helping them visualize and market their Thesis Projects. 

I look forward to seeing what the future holds for such a bright, committed, and hard-working young man truly deserving of the Outstanding Senior Award this year. 

Sincerely,
Elizabeth George-Fesch
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
School of Dance

Jeremy Meeker-Hackett

Fred Fox School of Music

“Jeremy is an exceptional student, musician, leader and person. He has a passion for music and great joy in sharing it, whether as a teacher or performer. Jeremy has already achieved a great deal at a young age. Mr. Meeker-Hackett’s talents do not only shine in vocal endeavors. Jeremy has been a distinguished member of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band for 4 years.

He was a member of the drumline for 2 years and earned the position of drum major of the Pride in his junior and senior years. I cannot imagine a more well-rounded representative of the school of music nor a more worthy candidate to be honored in this way.”

Jeremy's Full Nomination Letter

It is with the highest regard that I nominate Mr. Jeremy Meeker-Hackett for the FFSoM Outstanding Senior for fall 2020. Jeremy is a music education major with an emphasis in voice and choral studies. He is an esteemed member of Dr. Kristin Dauphinais’ vocal studio. Jeremy epitomizes the very best and brightest of the FFSoM. He maintains a 3.85 GPA and is currently student teaching with Jennifer Campman at Flowing Wells High School. Jeremy was a Medici Scholar in 2018 & 2019, a member of the dean’s List, and a Silver and Sage Award recipient. Jeremy is a student who is as committed to performance excellence as he is in the classroom. Mr. Meeker-Hackett excels in applied voice performing as a member of the premiere choral ensembles at the FFSoM. Further, Jeremy is active in the community performing in a variety of roles for musical theater productions including music director for a production of Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”.

Mr. Meeker-Hackett’s talents do not only shine in vocal endeavors. Jeremy has been a distinguished member of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band for 4 years. He was a member of the drumline for 2 years and earned the position of drum major of the Pride in his junior and senior years. Drum majors are entrusted with responsibilities far beyond any other student member including conducting the 250+ member ensemble in rehearsals and performances. In working with Jeremy, I have witnessed first-hand his unique ability to anticipate the needs of students and staff on a daily basis. Whether it is equipment logistics, rehearsal scheduling, or interpersonal management, his preparation keeps everyone on task and focused. Jeremy leads through support, encouragement, and inspiration to get the best work out of others. He is always willing to do the extra work; the tasks that are often the least rewarding without complaint. From making bus lists, to organizing the best combination of players to perform at various functions, he is in constant contact with all the members of the POA. That group familiarity allows him to serve the membership with a clear understanding of what they need to be their best. Athletic Bands serve over 65 different majors, and our student leaders need to be able to coordinate, inspire, and communicate with an incredibly diverse group of people. Jeremy is highly effective at bringing people together in pursuit of a shared vision. His consistently high standard of excellence for himself and others, combined with unwavering professionalism, are hallmarks of what makes him exceptional.

Jeremy Meeker-Hackett is a young man with extraordinary talent, a tireless work ethic, and a deep desire to teach. He exemplifies the quintessential FFSoM graduate and is someone whom we all can celebrate and be proud. Jeremy is the most deserving senior I have encountered in my years at Arizona for this prestigious recognition.

Sincerely,
Chad Shoopman, MM
Associate Director of Bands
Director of Athletic Bands
Director, “The Pride of Arizona”
Sponsor, ΤΒΣ Omega Chapter

Rachel Matsuo Saindon

School of Theatre, Film & Television

“Rachel has truly impressed us with her deep engagement with the material, sharp insights in class, and absolutely gorgeous scholarship. She writes at a level well beyond her undergraduate standing. The School of Theatre, Film & Television faculty are thrilled to have had Rachel among our students. Her outstanding scholarship and intellectual leadership are of the absolute highest quality we have seen. Rachel has our highest recommendation.”

Rachel's Full Nomination Letter

Dear CFA Selection Committee,

On behalf of the School of Theatre, Film, & Television faculty, I take great pleasure in nominating Rachel Matsuo Saindon for Outstanding Senior. Rachel will graduate this December with a BA in Film and Television (along with a second major in Gender and Women’s Studies). She holds a 3.87 GPA and has received several merit scholarships while at UA, including the Eirene Lamb Memorial Scholarship, the Albert Haldeman Scholarship, and a nomination for the Centennial Achievement Undergraduate Award. Rachel is an exceptionally brilliant young scholar who shows extraordinary promise as an intellectual leader and citizen.

In both of the courses she has taken with me, Rachel has truly impressed me with her deep engagement with the material, sharp insights in class, and absolutely gorgeous scholarship. She writes at a level well beyond her undergraduate standing; for her final project in Global Women Filmmakers, for example, she wrote an extraordinary essay on films directed by queer women in Asia, arguing that in these films, “Men exist in women-centered queer spaces as oppositions to [women’s] happiness, becoming physical embodiments of the familial and traditional obligations the women have to their culture.”

Rachel’s outstanding intellectual achievements have already been recognized by the Underrepresented Research Opportunities Consortium (UROC) in UA’s Graduate College, which mentors students with backgrounds underrepresented in PhD programs and prepares them for graduate-level study. As a McNair Achievement Scholar, Rachel received a $4000 stipend to work full-time on this same topic over the summer, developing it into a larger research project. Her resulting work, “Queerness and Female Sexuality in Japanese Films Directed by Women,” was so outstanding – even in comparison to other McNair Scholars – that she was invited to present it at the national McNair conference in Baltimore, a rare honor.

Rachel also shows great promise as an emerging filmmaker. For her senior capstone in GWS, she worked in a group to create a documentary short called Welcome Home, which explores themes of Asian diaspora, isolation, and loneliness. She has also created numerous videos, including in her current internship at local Tucson marketing company Artistic License Creative as well as for various businesses in Japan, where she was born and maintains many ties.

 With UROC’s support, Rachel is currently in the process of applying for the MFA program in Social Documentary at the University of California, Santa Cruz: a perfect fit for her skills, with its marriage of intellectual inquiry with filmmaking. We have no doubt that Rachel will go very far in her life as an emerging intellectual and artistic leader.

Rachel is a citizen not just of UA or Tucson, but of the world. Having lived in both Arizona and Japan, she is a truly transnational individual, and her global awareness and unique perspectives have greatly enriched the FTV community throughout her all-too-short time with us.

The School of Theatre, Film & Television faculty are thrilled to have had Rachel among our students. Her outstanding scholarship and intellectual leadership are of the absolute highest quality we have seen. Rachel has our highest recommendation.

Sincerely,
Anna Cooper
Assistant Professor of Film and Television
School of Theatre, Film, and Television

In lieu of a spoken address, our Outstanding Senior for the School of Theatre, Film & Television elected to submit a short film she wrote and directed titled “プロレスPro Wres”.

BEAR

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