Hanging up the phone, a smile widened across the face of Greg Watts as he recounted the conversation he just had. Without even coming to audition, Watts had been offered a dream role at High Desert Opera Company by the director himself.
Watts, like many performing and visual arts graduates, is leaving Southern Utah University and is eagerly waiting to see what his part will be in this next chapter of his life.
For months, seniors in the College of Performing & Visual Arts have been filling out applications, scheduling interviews and preparing for auditions. Years of meticulous practice, intensive training and demanding classes have prepared students for this exciting time.
Another senior who is leaving SUU with bright opportunities is Beth Snarr, dance major, who gave the credit to her professors.
She said, “Thanks to the instruction and preparation I have received from my professors and opportunities here at SUU, I feel prepared to enter the competitive world of dance. I look forward to the unknown adventures that lie ahead.”
Following graduation, Snarr will be moving to New York City to pursue a professional performing career in dance. Accompanying her to the Big Apple is fellow dance major Heather Childs who said, “I know there is a place for me in the world of dance and I am excited to search for it in New York City.”
In the coming months, these ladies will audition in front of panels representing some of the world’s most reputable dance companies. No doubt they will take confidence in knowing they have been trained for success.
Wendy Sanders, assistant professor of theatre arts, said of the preparation performing and visual arts students are given “The mission of CPVA is to provide a pre-professional degree that allows students to be gainfully employed at graduation.”
Sanders went on to say that 100 percent of 2013 graduates within technical theatre and design were employed after leaving SUU. This impressive placement rate is evidence of the extraordinary preparation students receive while at SUU.
Sara Thorson, vocal performance major, remarked on the preparation she has received while a T-Bird, “The thing that really sets me apart from those I’ll be competing with out there is the number of opportunities I have had to perform during my undergraduate education.”
Many of these opportunities SUU students have been able to experience while attending comes from the University’s many affiliates, one of which is the Utah Shakespeare Festival. One student who has taken advantage of this connection is Nicolas Pinegar, technical theatre and design major. He refined his skills as a lighting technician and Pinegar used his experience to impress one of the largest theatrical producers in the world, Cirque du Soleil.
Following graduation, Pinegar will move back to his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada to jump the hoops of the interview process with the company.
While most are using their diplomas to secure jobs in their respective fields, some graduates have opted to continue their education.
Ben Bradshaw, a Cedar City native, has double-majored in mathematics and musical performance — a rigorous and rare combination. Due to his impressive academics and musical talent, Bradshaw has earned a coveted spot at North Carolina School of the Arts’ and will work under the direction of Saxton Rose, a world-renowned bassoonist, this coming fall.
Among this year’s graduates are many who traded their seats in the classroom for the whiteboard. Alexandria Staheli, dance education major from Richfield, Utah, said, “I look forward to teaching and sharing my love for dance with my students in the community.”
Stephanie Barton of Manti, Utah is also returning to her hometown to contribute to her community. Barton will be working as a graphic designer for Mid-Utah Radio and assisting her brother in the expansion of his graphic design business, I-Four Media.
In recounting her time at SUU, Barton said, “My professors at SUU, especially in my area of study, saw my potential and acknowledged my talents and abilities but refused to let me settle for less than my best. I have been pushed beyond what I believed was my breaking point, and in the end excelled in many ways that I never thought imaginable or possible.”
These are just a few of the impressive students who’ll leave SUU this year from the College of Performing & Visual Arts. Throughout their years of study, these graduates have received gold medals in countless competitions, earned top honors in national exhibits and brought to life unforgettable theatrical productions and are now leaving Southern Utah University with a brilliant legacy.
The stage is all theirs and they are ready to shine.