“Be a Leader! Take the initiative to organize things you’d like to do. Treat the people around you with respect and have enthusiasm when interacting with others. Keep working hard toward your goals, refining your skills and never give up!” Matthew Chan, B.A. Biology, B.M. Music Studies, 2016
The Council is a group of students enrolled in COFA’s UTeach Fine Arts programs in Art, Dance, Music and Theatre. Fine Arts faculty appoint students to the Council. Members give feedback and advice to the Associate Dean of Fine Arts Education. They also plan and host activities that allow students to meet their colleagues and faculty from other departments and schools within the college preparation programs. In addition, the Council created opportunities for students to gain connections and opportunities to advance their careers after graduation.
Members of the Council:
Grace Bohn – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2021
Deja Criston – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies 2022 – Council Co-Chair
Deja attended Cornerstone Christian Schools in San Antonio, TX. Theatre Education specifically introduced her to the importance of self-confidence, collaboration, trust and social awareness. Deja believes that teachers have this wonderful way of planting seeds of greatness within us, to bring out our total potential and that being a teacher is a huge responsibility; everyday they are given power to influence, and inspire, while being a vessel of compassion to help students achieve goals.
“The legacy of my teachers will forever live in me through: the life lessons I have learned, the memories we have made, and the love that has been shared. This type of legacy and inspiration is something I hope to ensue on my future students.”
“Opportunities, connections, and personal growth are all things that I have gained in my time in the Theatre Studies program. I was graciously welcomed into UT’s COFA community where I have been able to express and strengthen my craft with supportive and encouraging individuals.”
“To anyone considering entering the field of fine arts education I would say never stop learning, be confident in yourself, and take risks. With any fine arts path people are going to doubt you and tell you to have a backup plan but when you’re actively pursuing what you love all no one can stop you. Plenty of opportunities are coming your way so don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, you never know what you’re capable of until you try it. You are going to experience a lot of negative and positive influential voices but just remember that your happiness is a priority.”
Rebecca East – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2020
Working closely with friends and directors in middle school and Cy-Fair High School in Cypress, Texas, helped Rebecca East realize her passion for helping and contributing to theatrical processes. For Rebecca, the professors and other students in the program are always there to make sure her experience in the Department of Theatre and Dance is the best it can be.
“Don’t be afraid to make opportunities happen for you. Roles, leadership positions and success will never be handed to you, but anyone is capable of being the best.”
Juan Angel Leyva – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2021 – Council Co-Chair
Juan became interested in teaching in the seventh grade when his oldest sister who directed a summer theatre program had him lead warm-ups and run scenes. His passion really grew in his freshman year of high school as he helped middle school students with diction and acting techniques. By his senior year, he knew this is what he wanted to do. He graduated from Pharr San-Juan Alamo Early College High School, located in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The UTeach Theatre program here at COFA has really pushed me to view things differently. It has pushed me to think at a higher level and has inspired me to want to make a difference in the world.”
“Trust the process and be open to change. Let your experience here in the UTeach program challenge your current way of thinking. If you keep an open mind and you are willing to learn, you will gain the most out of this program and grow even more as a person.”
Indya McKnight – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2022
While attending Byron P. Steele II High School in Cibolo, TX, Indya felt as though she was extremely blessed to have the experiences that she did within her high school theatre department. She was challenged, supported, accepted, and loved. She believes that all-in-all it was her peers and director that led her to seek teacher preparation. For Indya, it was as simple as hearing them say that they thought she would be a great theatre teacher that pushed her to choose this field of focus. Theatre is what makes her happiest and it only makes sense to continue pursuing it for the rest of her life.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in the Studies program at COFA thus far! We have some amazing classes, programs and events offered to us, as well as really wonderful staff and faculty members! I’m so grateful to have been a part of some really amazing projects and events, I look forward to what the future has in store!”
I would advise new students to take advantage of every opportunity they are offered, try new things, and take risks! Don’t
be afraid to put yourself out there and always ask questions!”
Benjamin Montero – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2020
Ben started theater classes in his sophomore year at Robert R. Vela High School in Edinburg, Texas. The high school theatre director mentored him and provided support. He has always wanted to teach. After an emotional scene in performance during his Senior year, he knew that theatre would become his life’s passion. At COFA, he has gotten to collaborate with and befriend many talented people who come together to make art and unite to make stories come to life. For Ben, the professors are great people who have provided enlightenment.
“There are a lot of opportunities. If you see one you want, do not throw away your shot. Also, make friends.”
Christina – Marie Pozzi – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2020
Christina attended Kingwood High in the Kingwood community of Houston, Texas. She always wanted to make a difference in the world. Growing up she watched her mother teach and make an impact on so many people’s lives, and it inspired her to do the same. “I think that teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world.”
“In just a little over a year, I have learned more about theatre and more about myself than I have in all the rest of my life. Being at UT has just reassured me that I am in the right profession.”
“Take every opportunity you can, and take those seriously as well. That is how you will make connections that will later benefit you in ways you cannot even imagine.”
Christian Scheller – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2020
Christian’s theatre director at Lampasas High School helped him realize who he wanted to be and gave him a place to be himself. Now, he wants to change someone’s life the way the director changed his. For him, the theatre program is extraordinary. He believes that there so much passion and love for theatre at the College of Fine Arts and it is a great environment for the students to grow as artists.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to people and put yourself out there. There are so many opportunities in the department that you might not ever have access to again. Do weird shows. Talk to your professors. Make friends.”
Stone Wang – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Instrumental Emphasis, 2020
Stone attended William P. Clements High School. He’s dreamed of being a music educator since the 7th grade. Having so many meaningful performances and experiences as an aspiring musician has made him want to make that possible for other students in the future. Music shaped the path of his life and he wishes to create that kind of positive impact on others.
“UT’s Music Studies program has enriched my life through many different aspects of music and learning, from the range of music performed by ensembles to the brilliant preparation for teaching provided by professors. It is an experience unique to the Butler School of Music.”