“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:
Geovanni Casillas – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2019
Geovanni attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, that was named as one of the five Distinguished Schools in the Arts by The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. He credits is teachers for motivating him to pursue a career in art education.
“Being in this program at COFA, you meet people who are passionate about your major as much as you are. It has been challenging at times, but if you love this major as much as I do everything you do will always be worth it.”
“As an art educator, you bring a certain set of skills to benefit yourself, your students and the community. It is a very rewarding field, and however much you decide to dedicate to the field and your education that is what you get out of it.”
Taylor Jane Cooper – UTeach Theatre, B. F.A. Theatre Studies, 2019
Teachers have always inspired Taylor Jane throughout her time at Midland High School. She wanted to be a part of a field, as a theatre educator, that has so much to offer both teachers and students. She wanted to share the joy of the theatre with young people who love it as much as she does.
“I would tell students entering this field that I am so excited for their journey within this line of work. I think it is always best to keep in mind that we are all still learning and growing each day, to hold your love for this field very close, and to remember that you are brave and valid for being here.”
Rebecca East – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2020 – Council Chair
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.”
Shelby Flowers – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2019
Shelby attended Ross S. Sterling High School in Baytown, Texas and fell in love with art on a high school trip to Italy. The art and culture she encountered inspired her to take Art 1 and AP Art History in her junior year and to dedicate her life and future career to art. Shelby credits her art and art history teachers in high school for encouraging her. She decided to pursue the education route so she could give to others what her teachers gave to her.
“I have met some of the most amazing, creative, helpful and inspiring individuals in this program. Professors like Dr. Bain, Dr. Adejumo and Dr. Little have taught me so much about how art has the power to influence others around us, enact change and how it can be used as a bridge between cultures.”
“Use art to get involved in your community and to get to know the world around you. Be open to trying new things. Also, remember that you can learn just as much from your students as they’re learning from you.”
Isaac Iskra – UTeach Dance, B.F.A. Dance Studies, 2019
Dance instructors that Isaac had outside of the University as well as within have had an enormous influence on shaping the person that he is today. At UT, the professors have provided insights to the minority students that are underrepresented in grade school education programs who feel like their voice is not being heard. Their comments resonated with Isaac and that is why he decided to join the UTeach Dance program. He wants to be someone who will have just as much an impact on a child’s life as his teachers have had on his.
“Being a teacher, you are causing a shift in the understanding of the students you are instructing. What that shift may be is directly related to how you feel and what you have to say about the teaching experience of dancers. Before you become a teacher, find out what your voice is for teaching.”
Juan Angel Leyva – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2021
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. “
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.”