Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants
Fred Fox School of Music & College of Fine Arts
“There are no adequate words to summarize Heather’s value to our world of education and her impact on the future of music education here in Tucson. As a GTA, Heather mentors, coaches, observes, evaluates, and guides undergraduate music education student teachers. The success that our music student teachers will have when they enter the workforce is largely due to Heather’s teaching.
“Her professionalism and compassion is reflected through her one-on-one teaching and mentorship for each student. It would be a shame to leave out that Heather is doing this all while balancing full time doctoral studies and taking care of her four incredible children. Our institution has been incredibly lucky to have Heather. I can only hope that each department has their ‘Heather’ as well.”
Heather’s Full Nomination Letter
Dear Awards Committee,
This letter serves to nominate Heather Cooper for the CFA Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Heather Cooper is a doctoral student in the music education program and has exemplified exceptional teaching in her service as a GTA with us. Heather’s primary role as a GTA is supervising our student teachers. In this position, she mentors, coaches, observes, evaluates, and guides our undergraduate music education student teachers as they complete their last semester of our program as apprentice teachers out in the field and transition to independent teachers.
Pre-COVID era, Heather was fantastic in her role as a GTA. In our current COVID world, there are no adequate words to summarize Heather’s value to our world of education and her impact on the future of music education here in Tucson.
As we know first-hand in the education field, the last three semesters have affected us all with this pandemic. Our lives and jobs have been upturned, and each person has been impacted in significant ways. We as faculty have had to reinvent how we teach, how we counsel and advise students, and how we balance life, health, family, and work. For specifically our student teachers, these undergraduates are dealing with not only learning in a remote world and trying to balance their own health and family commitments, but also teaching children full time for the first time ever in their careers … remotely!!! To work with these student teachers effectively is a massive undertaking requiring current content knowledge of K-12 educational systems and policies, current knowledge of trauma-informed instruction and Social-Emotional Learning techniques, creativity reinventing our tried-and-true methods of the past, and most importantly, a thorough application of compassion, counseling, and mentorship. The current educational upheaval given the pandemic has (appropriately) shaken even our best master teachers in the K-12 field. Heather has taken on her duties as student teacher supervisor with compassion and professionalism. She has modeled for these students and their cooperating teachers in the field how to balance life and work as a teacher. Heather has been there for her students in more capacities than we ever expected. The success our music student teachers will have when they enter the workforce is largely due to Heather’s teaching style with them and her unending drive to help them reflect and improve upon their teaching techniques. If you want proof, just visit the classrooms of the twelve incredible students of ours Heather guided through one-on-one teaching and mentorship; they are in the field as teachers now, and Heather’s impact continues to spread through to her former students’ new K-12 music students.
It would be a shame to leave out that Heather is doing this all while balancing full-time doctoral studies and taking care of her four incredible children—one baby and three young school-aged children who are remote learning themselves due to school closures, so she is serving as their homeschooling mom. She is a hero in every sense of the word to our students – she is their rock and a model for them to emulate as they themselves navigate the education world. To say that teaching the performing arts remotely to children is a challenge is a grave understatement. Now imagine the challenge of teaching new teachers how to teach performing arts remotely to children! All I can say is that our institution has been incredible lucky to have Heather Cooper teaching these students. I can only hope that each department has their “Heather” as well.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for more information. I apparently am still figuring out how to balance life, work, and everything else in this pandemic, so I just hope I have done justice summarizing how incredibly blessed I feel to have Heather Cooper as our GTA.
Dr. Karin Nolan
Assistant Professor, Music Education
School of Art
“As an instructor for her courses, Danielle has received exceptional student reviews with consistent remarks regarding her dedication, understanding, and reliability. Danielle is an exemplary colleague who consistently demonstrates her commitment to the classroom by developing new coursework, exercises, and instruction that reflect on her unfailingly optimistic character and humor.
“In addition to her accomplishments in the classroom, she maintains an impressive studio practice. Danielle’s work has been selected for several national exhibitions including Art on Paper at SITE: Brooklyn. Throughout the pandemic, Danielle has been an invariably positive presence for faculty, peers, and students.”
Danielle’s Full Nomination Letter
Dear CFA Honors and Awards Committee,
On behalf of the School of Art Honors and Awards Committee, I am pleased to nominate Danielle Jones for Outstanding GTA.
Danielle has been an instructor for several FYE courses in the School of Art, including Space and Mapping. She has received exceptional student reviews, with consistent remarks regarding her dedication, understanding, and reliability.
When courses were forced to suddenly move to an online format due to the pandemic in spring of 2020, Danielle demonstrated her commitment to the classroom, putting her own creative practice aside in order to develop new coursework. Of note was the development of an extremely effective handout that not only outlined daily exercises and instruction but also reflected her unfailingly optimistic character and humor.
When assigned a different course the following semester, Danielle jumped at the opportunity to yet again develop new course materials for a remote learning course, this time for FYE Space. Danielle is an exemplary colleague. She has willingly assisted her fellow GTAs in their curriculum development, sharing her own previously developed materials and offering advice when asked.
In addition to her accomplishments in the classroom, Danielle has managed to maintain an impressive studio practice. As her C.V. details, she’s been selected for several national exhibitions, including Art on Paper at SITE: Brooklyn and has received several competitive awards through the University of Arizona.
Although faced with great personal adversity that extends far beyond the pandemic, Danielle Jones has been an invariably positive presence for faculty, peers, and students. To recognize her with the Outstanding GTA would be a small way for us to demonstrate our appreciation.
Stacie G Widdifield, PhD MS
Chair, Honors and Awards Committee
Professor of Art History
School of Art
School of Dance
“Ilana’s professional background spans both modern and ballet and includes dancing with professional dance companies including San Francisco’s Contemporary ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective), California Ballet Company, and the San Francisco Opera among others. As a teacher, she motivates her students of all ages and levels with her musical approach in the studio and her kind demeanor.
“She is compassionate with the students while at the same time consistently challenging them in the studio/rehearsal environment. She has balanced her work here while maintaining a commitment to teaching both in the Tucson community and at studios nationally for the last two years. Ilana’s creative energy, sense of humor, and talent as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher will be missed.”
Ilana’s Full Nomination Letter
To Whom It May Concern:
It is my pleasure to write a letter of nomination for Ilana Giardina as the School of Dance’s Outstanding GTA this spring. As an Associate Professor and Academic Advisor in the School of Dance at the University of Arizona, I have observed Ilana’s passion for dancing, teaching and choreography both as an undergraduate and graduate student in the School of Dance.
Ilana’s professional background spans both modern and ballet, and includes dancing with professional companies that work in those styles. Her performing career includes dancing with San Francisco’s contemporary ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective), California Ballet Company, and other professional dance companies, as well as with San Francisco Opera. This breadth of experience becomes evident in her skillful teaching and beautifully constructed choreography and it has been a pleasure to watch her grow as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
As a teacher she motivates her students of all ages and levels with her musical approach in the studio and her kind demeanor. She is a team player in all respects and I have enjoyed collaborating with her in teaching major level classes last year. She is compassionate with the students while at the same time consistently challenging them in the studio/rehearsal environment. Her dedication and commitment this year in developing her thesis work was truly inspiring to me, as I watched her develop her choreography and coach the dancers. The culmination of her work was a powerful statement on the tragedy, sorrow and hope that emanates from war and conflict.
Ilana’s contributions to the School of Dance at the University of Arizona are incredibly valued and she has balanced her work here while maintaining a commitment to teaching both in the Tucson community and at studios nationally the last two years. Ilana’s creative energy, sense of humor, and talent as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher will be missed!
On behalf of the UA Dance faculty,
School of Theatre, Film & Television
“Rebekah has worked on seven Arizona Repertory Theatre productions. She has attacked each of these processes with an incredible passion to not only grow as an artist but as an artistic voice on the leadership team guiding the production. Rebekah’s process includes a dedication to visual storytelling that has been unrivaled in our graduate program.
“Over the last two years, Rebekah has moved beyond the college and university to shine on national and international creative projects including Arkansas Shakespeare Festival’s touring production of Romeo and Juliet and the Prague Quadrennial. As a student, professional, and artist, Rebekah has demonstrated a love of learning, art, design, and a level of commitment that will make her successful not only in the theatre, but also in life.”
Rebekah’s Full Nomination Letter
To: School of Theatre, Film and Television Scholarship Committee,
RE: Nomination for the Outstanding Graduate Assistant,
On Behalf of the Design and Technology Faculty, it is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Rebekah Clark for the Outstanding GTA Award. Rebekah is a third year MFA candidate focusing in Scenic Design, who has always impressed with her artistic abilities that are rooted in passion, exploration and theory.
In her time at UArizona and the School of Theatre, Film, and Television, Rebekah has worked on a total of 7 productions for the Arizona Repertory Theatre Company as a Scenic Designer, Assistant Scenic Designer, Assistant Projections Designer, Paint Charge, and Scenic Artist. Most Scenic Design graduate students have completed 4 or 5 shows by the time they reach the beginning of their third year. Rebekah has attacked each of these processes with an incredible passion to not only grow as an artist but as an artistic voice on the leadership team guiding the production. With each project, Rebekah’s process has included a dedication to visual storytelling that has been unrivaled in our graduate program. Her attention to the details of the script, its dramaturgy, and the nuance of space have made her not only an invaluable part of our Scenic Design program, but has lead her to opportunities to succeed on larger projects.
In Rebekah’s second year, she became an integral part of a collaboration with the Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC). I was asked to design a series of Escape Rooms for the medical school to use in their training as part of the new Health and Sciences Innovation Building. As my Associate Designer on the project, Rebekah took the artistic lead on designing and shaping the Victorian Asylum Escape Room. Rebekah was able to shape an incredibly detailed and visually stunning interactive exhibit, and she engage Dr. Hamilton, the head of the project, like a seasoned professional. She talked with him about the goals of the design and how they benefited the medical students who would eventually inhabit the space. Rebekah was then able to collaborate with a professional 3D modeler that we brought in to work on the project, guiding him through the design to ensure that the renderings illustrated the details and goals of the design.
Over the last two years Rebekah has also moved beyond the College and University to shine on National creative projects. In the summer of 2019, Rebekah has served as my Assistant Designer at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. Rebekah’s passion and artistic voice made her a large part of the success of that season. She was an incredible collaborator on the indoor shows she assisted on and on her design for the touring production of Romeo and Juliet. Rebekah with limited resources, was able to create one of the most sophisticated and elegant designs that the touring production has ever seen. The artistic staff and collective are still talking about how successful the design was and how it helped bring the touring production to a new level aesthetically.
Lastly, Rebekah showed how her passions and talents are relevant to the conversation happening on the international Stage. In her first year, Rebekah teamed up with Tori Mays, a 3rd year MFA candidate, and Ryan Moore a 2nd year MFA candidate to work on the Common Design Project for the Prague Quadrennial. The Prague Quadrennial is an international design conference that happens every 4 years in Prague hosted by the Czech Republic. The Project centered around the play Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry. Rebekah took the lead on putting together the submission materials and organizing all of the incredible work that they had worked on over the course of 3 months. In total, the Prague Quadrennial received 60 entries from across the globe, and twelve projects were selected to travel to present their work at the PQ. Tori, Ryan, and Rebekah’s work was one of the twelve selected (1 of 3 selected from the United States.)
As a student, professional and artist, Rebekah has demonstrated a love of learning, art, design, and a level of commitment that will make her successful not only in theatre, but also in life. I hope that you will consider her for the Outstanding GTA Award. I cannot think of any student better suited for this recognition.
Joe C. Klug
Assistant Professor of Scenic Design
School of Theatre, Film & Television
Fred Fox School of Music & College of Fine Arts
“Kaissy is a stunning performer, erudite scholar, bold entrepreneur, innovative yet generous servant, and a humble leader. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has created recordings showcasing not only her performance prowess but her musical production acumen as a composer, arranger, engineer, and producer as well. Kaissy is also a UA Honors College student, a volunteer for the Outreach Honors Band and the New Horizons Band, and serves as president for the College of Fine Arts Ambassadors.
“Alongside her musical work, Kaissy’s skills were noticed by the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. Through her work, Ms. Yau has bridged the gap between the Eller College of Management and the CFA. I am certain she will succeed well outside our institution to make singular artistic and entrepreneurial impacts upon our profession and beyond.”
Kaissy’s Full Nomination Letter
Dear Associate Dean Fitzgerald and colleagues:
It is my highest pleasure to recommend Wing Nok “Kaissy” Yau to your awards committee for the 2021 Fred Fox School of Music and College of Fine Arts Outstanding Senior Award. Ms. Yau’s tireless efforts at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music and College of Fine Arts have been nothing short of awe inspiring. She is a stunning performer, erudite scholar, bold entrepreneur, innovative yet generous servant, and a humble leader.
She is recipient of the 2020 Undergraduate Creative Achievement Award, is the FFSOM 2020-2021 Presser Scholar, winner of the 2020 Charleston International Music Talent Competition, winner of the 2020 UA Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition, winner of the 2020 White Mountain Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, winner of the 2019 Arizona Flute Society Collegiate Soloist competition, and winner of the inaugural 2019 FFSOM Woodwind Premier Prix. She has been accepted to the 2021 incoming class of Trinity Laban Conservatory in London, one of the premiere Royal Schools of Music in the UK Commonwealth.
She is also a UA Honors College Partnership through Honors Mentor whose academic studies are underwritten by an International Excellence Tuition Scholarship. Her inexhaustible work ethic is evidenced by her success as a performer, maintenance of a 4.0 GPA, and impact as a volunteer. The latter is evidenced through her work as a Student Engagement and Career Development Endorsed Leader. She has volunteered for the underserved in the Outreach Honor Band, worked with aged in the New Horizons Band, and lead students and staff as the president of the College of Fine Arts Ambassadors, whose efforts throughout 2020 helped yield the largest incoming class for the CFA in sixteen years.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has postponed Ms. Yau’s solo concerto performances and live competitions, Kaissy has recognized that earning market share will arise through recording and disseminating her performances across a multitude of platforms. She has created recordings showcasing not only her performance prowess but her musical production acumen as a composer, arranger, engineer, and producer as well. Specifically, the repertoire and manner that she has marketed these recordings have created appealing content to engage pandemic-isolated clientele. Filling the needs of isolated audiences, she has arranged and recorded her avant garde/beatbox version of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero to include a combination of live and sampled instrumentalists.
With experience during her sophomore year as the Social Media Specialist for BNDR Music (now StreamMusic.com), Ms. Yau masterfully utilizes the digital audio workstation for recording and expanding the flute repertoire via her website and social media. Many of her projects are examples for students in the FFSOM as didactic virtual/live performance tools. Her work should be a template for all burgeoning musicians including both performers and composers to use as a strategy to showcase their talents. She capably used these skills to the benefit of the FFSOM in creating media for the #KeepMakingMusicAtArizona campaign and now for Arizona Arts. Her latter work contributed to a 7.5% increase in engagement across social media platforms.
All of these skills were noticed by the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and she joined the 2020- 2021 cohort. She immediately rose to the top of the cohort as she is the CEO of her Personal Protection Equipment venture startup. Kaissy works as the protégée of Dr. Dan Schlager, MD, internationally renowned professor of emergency medicine who holds 25 U.S. and international patents for safety products. For her work, the Eller College of Management has just awarded her a McGuire Center Scholarship. Ms. Yau’s tireless efforts have not only further strengthened the ties between the College of Medicine and the Eller College of Management, but she has also bridged the gap between these colleges and the CFA.
Kaissy’s achievements continue an arc she began as a young performer and athlete. She completed all ABRSM grade level exams and was principal flute of the German Swiss Philharmonic Orchestra and International Concert Orchestra of Hong Kong prior to attending UA. She is the most prolific and enthusiastic student I have had the privilege of teaching over the past 29 years and fills the top single percentile of those students. She has, without request, volunteered her time and efforts as an informal TA for the flute studio quite often surpassing the productivity of the actual GTAs in the studio! Her charity, indefatigability, grace, and maturity will be sorely missed by all who’ve had the pleasure of working with her. It is with my utmost pleasure that I strongly recommend that she be named the Outstanding Senior for 2021. I am certain that she will succeed well outside our institution to make singular artistic and entrepreneurial impacts upon our profession and beyond.
Brian A. Luce
Professor, Flute Performance
School of Art
“Grace has impressed every faculty member with whom she has taken a course with her dedication to scholarship, outstanding performance in every class, firm interest in a museum career, and a deep commitment to social justice issues. Grace has held curatorial internships at UAMA and Tucson Museum of Art. She is currently conducting a Community Engagement Internship at Tucson Museum of Art focusing on inclusion, diversity, and access.
“Outside of the arts, Grace has an impressive resume of community activities including a writing tutor at UA’s THINK TANK and a Board Member of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona among others. Grace is highly motivated, hard-working, and fiercely intelligent— a UA student of great integrity with deep commitments to making her community a better place.”
Grace’s Full Nomination Letter
Nomination of Grace Anne Liatti for Outstanding Senior Award
The Art History faculty enthusiastically nominates Grace Liatti for Outstanding Senior:
Grace is an Art History major, minoring in Religious Studies and French, with a 3.942 overall GPA and 4.0 in her major field. She is fluent in French a earned a TEFL/TESOL Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Grace has impressed every faculty member with whom she has taken a course with her dedication to scholarship, outstanding performance in every class, firm interest in a museum career, and a deep commitment to social justice issues. She wrote an outstanding research paper on “The Healing Potential of Repatriation: Finding Closure and Building Relationships through the Repatriation of Native American Cultural Items” in Dr. Romano’s fall 2020 course.
Her senior thesis is an insightful, mature, and substantial (71 pp.) paper on the role of museums in recontextualizing American public monuments deemed racist, with outdated images of minority populations or heroizing individuals with tainted histories.
Grace has held curatorial internships at UAMA (2018) and Tucson Museum of Art (2019, 2021). At TMA she collaborated with curator Dr. Julie Sasse to prepare an exhibition, then transitioned to independent work during COVID, receiving the highest praise in her final evaluation. She is currently conducting a Community Engagement Internship at TMA and developing resources for docents and educators on inclusion, diversity, and access.
She has an impressive resume of community activities: writing tutor at UA’s THINK TANK Writing Center; student worker in the College of Education Office of Development and Alumni Relations; peer facilitator in the Women and Gender Resource Center, facilitating conversations on healthy relationships and ways to combat rape in our community; Board Member of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona.
Grace is highly motivated, hard-working, and fiercely intelligent—a UA student of great integrity with deep commitments to making her community a better place.
On behalf of the SOA Honors and Awards Committee,
Stacie G. Widdifield, PhD, MS
Professor of Art History
School of Art
School of Dance
“On occasion, a dancer who joins us as a freshman catches everyone’s eye. Hannah Weinmaster was such a student, and now, as a senior, she is regarded by faculty, staff, and her peers as an organizational leader and artistic force. She has performed in over 30 pieces created by faculty and by iconic choreographers and has choreographed a dozen works for UA Dance.
“Hannah is valued by her colleagues and recognized by the faculty and staff, as a creative force but also as a fine teacher for her engagements in a number of studios in Arizona and beyond. As Hannah leaves behind her four years of contributions to UA Dance, she will be remembered for her artistry, intelligence, and spirit. She has a way of ‘always finding a way.”
Hannah’s Full Nomination Letter
On occasion, a dancer who joins us as a freshman immediately catches everyone’s eye. Hannah Weinmaster was such a student, and now, as a senior, she is regarded by faculty, staff and her peers as an organizational leader and artistic force. She certainly meets all of the criteria for Outstanding Senior. In terms of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, and community service, Hannah stepped to the front of the line early on, and has been there since her first year with UA Dance.
Hannah Weinmaster, our Spring 2021 Outstanding Senior, is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. She has performed in over 30 pieces created by faculty and by iconic choreographers such as Martha Graham and Paul Taylor. Hannah has choreographed a dozen works for UA Dance, with some of those pieces being finalists in six different national competitions that included entries from professional companies. She has excelled as a dancer and choreographer while serving as an officer in the Dance Collective, an official ASUA club on campus that is deeply involved in conceiving, creating and effecting community and campus projects. And in every year since her start with UA Dance, her Medici Scholarships have facilitated studies both nationally and in 2019, internationally, as she travelled with faculty member Sam Watson to work in the Bolzano Dance Festival in Italy. It is a clear point of pride for UA Dance that Hannah is working at such a professional level while earning her degree with us.
These areas of achievement can be better appreciated by noting just a few examples from Hannah’s list of accomplishments. The already mentioned Medici Scholarships were awarded three years in a row, from 2017 through 2020. In 2018, as a sophomore, Hannah won the Celebration of Excellence Award for her presence and mastery of “being on stage.” In 2019, Hannah was selected for Dance’s Creative Achievement Award and in the same year her choreography made the finals for the Palm Desert and McCallum Theater national choreography festivals. As we moved into the constraints caused by Covid, Hannah’s choreography continued to bring notice in film festivals and virtual choreography competitions – three times in 2021.
Hannah is valued by her colleagues, and recognized by the faculty and staff, as a creative force but also as a fine teacher for her engagements in a number of studios in Arizona and beyond. Her work is driven by a conviction for fairness and a desire to help people. On top of everything Hannah accomplished as a dancer and choreographer, she served her fellow students with kindness and care, creating for the Dance Collective a platform for mental health that became programmatic during her last year here. As Hannah leaves behind her four years of contributions to UA Dance, she will be remembered for her artistry, intelligence, and spirit. She has a way of “always finding a way.”
Our very best to one bright talent- Congratulations Hannah!
Jory Hancock, on behalf of UA Dance
Hannah Landreville Miller
School of Theatre, Film & Television
“Hannah is the rare student who can seemingly do everything absolutely well: she excels equally in both the creation and scholarly analysis of stories; she has first-rate accomplishments both in solitary intellectual pursuits and in outgoing leadership roles. This year, Hannah embarked on a senior honors thesis that was out of the park in its quality; she is lightyears beyond her peers in her astonishing intellectual prowess.
“Hannah is the rare student who could pursue virtually any career path she wanted and make an enormous success of it. We could not be more impressed with Hannah’s extraordinary talent and abilities, and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have had the honor of teaching this powerhouse student.”
Hannah’s Full Nomination Letter
Dear CFA Selection Committee,
On behalf of the School of Theatre, Film, & Television faculty, I take great pleasure in nominating Hannah Landreville Miller for Outstanding Senior. Hannah is graduating with a BA in Film and Television, plus dual minors in English and Creative Writing. She holds a 4.00 GPA and has been on the Dean’s List with Distinction every semester; she has also received a fully-funded Wildcat Excellence scholarship plus multiple smaller scholarships throughout her time at UA. Hannah is the rare student who can seemingly do absolutely everything well: she excels equally in both the creation and scholarly analysis of stories; she has first-rate accomplishments both in solitary intellectual pursuits and in outgoing leadership roles. We could not be more impressed with Hannah’s extraordinary talent and abilities, and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have had the honor of teaching this powerhouse student.
As both an artist and a scholar, Hannah has a deep love for storytelling in all its forms – especially those that are for and about young people. This year she has written a breathtakingly accomplished senior honors thesis on the High School Musical trilogy: she reads it as awash in queer subtext, sitting on the boundary between the heteronormative teen movie genre of the previous decades and the more overtly queer-focused teen content that has arisen in the 2010s. Offering, through the world of musical theatre, a blissful queer alternative to the heteronormative mainstream of high school sports, Hannah argues that the franchise ultimately works to tie musical theatre back to hegemonic norms and thus offers only a “failed queer utopia.” Hannah’s project is set to be 50-60 pages long – essentially a Masters thesis – and is out of the park in its quality; she is lightyears beyond her peers in her astonishing intellectual prowess and mastery of scholarly techniques.
As if that’s not enough, Hannah is also currently taking a Senior Seminar in which students choose their own original research projects and write article-length papers. Many professors would struggle to work simultaneously on two separate projects of this size (I initially warned her against it!), yet she is somehow managing to make it look easy. Her project for this course is on the TV series Teen Wolf and the trend towards supernatural queer characters in contemporary teen texts. Hannah’s work is so far beyond that of her peers that giving her feedback on her projects often feels like giving feedback to a colleague. Hannah’s intellectual and scholarly capabilities are simply staggering, and I am not exaggerating when I say they are the best I have ever witnessed in a student.
Yet for all that, Hannah is equally talented with the creative side of storytelling. She has impressed us all in her film and television production and industry courses. As Professor Shane Riches puts it, “Hannah is exceptional. Her writings and storytelling achieve an elegance rarely realized at the college level. Her sophisticated understanding of and creative merging of business and art dualities in popular media are among the best I’ve ever seen accomplished by a student.” She has also participated in many student productions throughout her time with us, and still finds time to excel in her creative writing courses and write fiction for fun too.
Hannah is one of those people who seems to have more hours in the day than the rest of us; I don’t know anyone else who could get a 4.0 GPA, write a Masters-length thesis, create films and stories, and still have time for a major position of student leadership. For the past two years, Hannah has served as the Assistant Director of Pine Reads Review, a UA-based online magazine that reviews children’s and young adult literature. This is the highest student position, and she not only writes reviews and other articles, but is responsible for the management of the whole team and every aspect of the magazine: editorial decisions, social media, website, graphics, creating podcasts, training other staff, etc.
And even beyond that, she has somehow also fit in two internships during her time at UA. One was with Pine Reads Review, as she kickstarted their YouTube channel by creating a video miniseries about the many paths into publishing. The other was for an editorial literary agency called 389 Literary, in which she solicited manuscripts for children’s picture books, gave editorial feedback, held acquisitions meetings, and helped to select the top manuscripts to send on to literary agents and editors.
Hannah is the rare student who could pursue virtually any career path she wanted and make an enormous success of it. I had thought it was her calling to get a PhD in film/television studies, due to her exceptionally brilliant work in my courses and as a senior thesis advisee – only to find out that she does a ridiculously large number of other activities with equal panache. As it happens, she would like to get a Masters degree in narrative studies and then ultimately to become a literary agent for children’s and YA literature.
Whatever her path, I have no doubt that she will not only succeed but will make an enormous impact on the world with her immense gifts. The School of TFTV, the College of Fine Arts, and UArizona as a whole are incredibly lucky to have had her, and she is beyond deserving of being named this year’s Outstanding Senior.
Assistant Professor of Film and Television School of Theatre, Film, and Television