The College of Fine Arts Studies Student Advisory Council Alumni
The Fine Arts faculty and current members of the Fine Arts Studies Student Advisory Council would like to thank the past members of the Council for their service, share some of their current accomplishments and offer advice to future teachers.
Madalin Beavers – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies with Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Non-Profits, 2018
Madi decided to pursue teaching after experiences in high school teaching art to middle school students in San Antonio. For her, being able to help others grow and learn more about themselves is the best part of teaching.
“To high school students who want to become art teachers: don’t forgo your passion for creating art when you decide to teach. Keep on making art for yourself, even if it’s small. It’s worth the effort to keep creating.”
Jacqueline Cardenas – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2016
Jacky, a native Houstonian believes that the visual arts allowed her to gain a better understanding of different cultures and lifestyles, and she wants to pass on the opportunity to future generations.
“For those interested in becoming an art teacher, having a big heart is key as you will interact with so many people from all walks of life.”
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, which 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.”
Matthew Chan – UTeach Music, B.A. Biology, B.M. Music Studies, 2016
Matthew is pursuing a Masters of Music in Violin Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a String Pedagogy Teaching Assistant, teaching High String Fundamentals and Low String Fundamentals.
“I learned so much in my time in Music at UT. The system of support and dedication of both faculty and colleagues made me feel ready to confront all of the challenges of emergent teachers, whether it be getting in front of a class of kids, or reshaping my entire perspective on what teaching is and the underlying values that inspire us to teach.”
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.”
Laura Crabbe – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Choral Emphasis, 2016
Choir Director Harris Middle School, San Antonio, Texas
Laura has wanted to teach choir since elementary school because she found it as a creative outlet and hopes to help others express themselves through music.
“Expect high quality from your students. If they sing or play the right pitches and rhythms, don’t just say “good job,” and move on to the next piece. Challenge them to be musical and make the song come alive. The students will have fun and want to come to your class every day.
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.”
Anyssa Flores – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2017
Art teacher at Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Pharr, Texas
Anyssa Flores was raised in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. She pursued a B.F.A. in Visual Art Studies and is interested in Photography, Video and Contemporary Art. She planned to teach in a community or museum setting to promote art literacy, dialogue and collaboration among diverse populations.
“Get involved in your community! Take the opportunity to teach at museums, nonprofits, festivals, etc. You will make great connections and be exposed to the many facets of teaching Art.”
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.”
Alayah Frazier – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2017
Elementary Fine Arts Teacher: Virgil I. Grissom Elementary, Houston, Texas
Alayah attended Bellaire High School in Houston. She enjoys helping others and that is what pushed her to pursue a teaching career. She credits the teachers she encountered while in K-12 for her success.
“Being an artist will help you see things other teachers may miss. Being a teacher will give you valuable skills that other artists may lack. Choosing to study art education instead of just studio art or education provides a well-rounded experience that balances the two.”
Oscar Franco – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2014
Elementary Fine Arts Teacher: Art, Music, and Theatre at KIPP Austin Comunidad, dual-language elementary school, Austin, Texas
“While the work in the Theatre Studies program was incredibly rigorous, there was support every step of the way to make sure we were as successful as we could be. To new students entering the program, I would encourage you to take the opportunity to get to know your professors beyond just what they teach you. Ask them about their journey as teachers, what they wish they could tell their younger self, what their mistakes were and what they learned from them.”
Tanya Gantiva – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2018
Tanya was inspired by a teacher who supported her decision to pursue a career in art in her Senior year at Westside High School in Houston. After her first day of studio classes at UT, she could not stop thinking of the many students who realize their passion at a young age and are discouraged from seeking the career of their choice and passion.
“Pursue your dreams, your passion, even if society tells you that you will never succeed. Art education is a beautiful, rewarding field where you can give your students the confidence they need and an outlet to express their true selves.”
Tawny Garcia – UTeach Dance, B.F.A. Dance Studies, 2015
Murchison Middle School, Austin, Texas
Tawny’s experience involved a lot of sleepless nights, tears, crumbled up lesson plans, multiple cups of coffee & countless epiphanies which prepared her for her time as a teacher. She says the greatest lessons were not always the ones in the classroom but rather the examples of dedication and care shown by her peers, professors and the entire administration team at COFA.
“I felt supported, challenged and constantly given the opportunity to find my way and my personal teaching voice. Be willing to ask for help and speak up if you don’t know the expectations set upon you. Also have a strong support system you can depend on.”
Natalie Gomez – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2016
Natalie Gomez grew up amidst the mountains in sunny El Paso. She wants to pursue her passions of education, art and social reform, whether it be through teaching in a high school classroom, or traveling and studying educational policy abroad. For Natalie, being a teacher is at once one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs you can find.
“Without challenge there isn’t growth, and without growth there isn’t change. As a teacher, you become one of the greatest facilitators of change in the lives of your students, your community, and your world.”
Trevor Heim – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Choral Emphasis, 2014, M.A. Vocal Performance 2016
Trevor was inspired to become a teacher because of the fun he had engaging in music particularly with others. His goal is teaching voice at the collegiate level.
“Spend short periods of time, yet often, with music theory, piano, and reading resources on how we learn best as humans and voice pedagogy.”
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.”
Garrett Nichols Jackson – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2016
Theatre Director at Marble Falls Middle School, Marble Falls, Texas
Garrett received the award for October Teacher of the Month in 2016.
“The program helped me develop my passion for the arts and also taught me the importance of the arts and how to convey that to my students. Advice that I would give new educators entering the field is get as much experience as you can in the studies program and ask as many questions as possibly from your professors who are master teachers and know that the program truly prepares you for your teaching career.”
Shaun Lane – UTeach Art, B.F.A. Visual Art Studies, 2014
Instructor at East View High School (GISD), Georgetown, Texas
Ceramics, Sculpture, and Art 1
“The program at COFA was very rigorous, and I am a better educator for it. Teaching is very stressful, and often requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. I had a substantial amount of practice dealing with such conditions during my time at UT. I was beyond prepared when I graduated.
“Stay hungry, and true to yourself. Always look for opportunities to learn and grow, but also don’t forsake your vision of what educating future artists looks like. Listen to the advice of the veterans, but don’t be afraid to contribute your new ideas and perspective.”
Laura Martin – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Choral Emphasis, 2014
Assistant Choir Director, Arnold Middle School Cypress Fairbanks ISD, Harris County, Texas
“My time the UT Music program was rich in experiences in every aspect of my chosen career. Surrounded by skilled music educators, I was encouraged to step up to challenges that tested me and prepared me to begin my career as an educator. The COFA Studies community is full of enthusiastic people who are passionate about bringing the arts into schools in a meaningful and life-changing way. Their support, encouragement, and passion are contagious, and I am grateful that my peers and professors have become my friends and mentors.
Every day when you leave your classroom, remind yourself that you will never be perfect, but you can do better. Your students will never be perfect and never be who you expect them to be walking in the door, but they too can do better. On the good days, that thought will be exhilarating. On mediocre days, it will be challenging. On bad days, that is what will bring you back to your classroom, excited to share your art with your students.”
Arsenio-Trey Medrano – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Instrumental Emphasis, 2014
Director of Bands, Washington Junior High School, Conroe, Texas
“My time in the Studies program at COFA prepared me for the challenges you would experience in the classroom as I had multiple opportunities to dive in head first into real teaching situations.
Being an educator in the fine arts requires patience! Most of the time, your future students will take a while to fully learn and understand something you are trying to teach them. Be patient with them, praise them when they experience success, and expect the highest standards when they feel like giving up!”
Chanse Morris – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, Instrumental Emphasis, 2018
Chanse graduated from J. Frank Dobie High School in Houston. The band directors in middle and high school were very influential on his decision to pursue music education. He also credits the support from his family on his journey to become a music educator. While at the College of Fine Art, he has been able to teach clarinet lessons in middle schools and continues to draw inspiration from his students.
“Take in all the information you can. Keep all the resources you can and take all the opportunities thrown your way.
Emily Jane Ochoa – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2017
Theatre and ELA 3 instructor Port Isabel High School, Port Isabel, Texas
Her parents enrolled her in a summer workshop with a community theater that fostered her love of theatre. In high school, she was finally able to enroll in a theatre class. “ I wanted to be an artist, and knew I loved sharing my work with others. At UT, I learned that I was destined to share my love for academia and theatre with other students. I am interested in incorporating theatre pedagogical practices with other subjects, and hope to make theatre education accessible to students at a younger age.”
“Remember that you are always learning! Sometimes we move so quickly that we forget that we are evolving alongside our students, so I encourage you to appreciate those moments of simultaneous growth. Our students need as much love and honesty as we can give, so it’s important to create such an environment for them.”
Cassidy Oldham – UTeach Dance, B.F.A. Dance, Youth and Community Studies, 2018
Cassidy was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in dance classes for young children. Seeing the improvement and happiness from helping a child master a difficult dance step, she fell in love with teaching.
“Whether assisting a class, teaching a friend to dance or teaching a class as a student, all the experience you have will help once you are in the teaching field or preparing to be in the field. You will learn something each time you teach, so the more experience you have, the better you will be.”
Daniel Oshiro – UTeach Music, B.A. Music Studies, Instrumental Emphasis, 2018
Daniel attended Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii before coming to Texas. He was inspired to become an educator through those that came before him. He saw the impact that enthusiastic and passionate teachers had on students and the communities.
“I learned that teaching can be a fulfilling career and that educators are necessary for the future of the world. I learned that I could make a difference in someone’s life and if I’m lucky I will be able to make others aspire to be the best they can be.”
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.”
Francis Rodriguez – UTeach Dance, B.F.A. Dance Studies, 2018 – Past Council Chair
Francis attended Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas and was inspired to become a teacher. She believes that the formal process of preparing for quality education is very worthwhile. She wants to earn an M.F.A., and live in a city with an “awesome” arts scene.
“Simply, do it. The world needs more creativity, versatility and beauty in it, and that’s what you bring. Sharing it with others makes it all the more special.”
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.”
Jacob Schnitzer – UTeach Music, B.M. Music Studies, 2016
Jacob is from Plano, Texas. He credits the fantastic teachers who inspired him to be a musician and he wants to do the same for his students. Anywhere in the world. He hopes to have a portfolio career as a conductor, composer, and educator.
“Listen and study as much music as you can get your hands on.”
Claire Stephen – UTeach Theatre, B.F.A. Theatre Studies, 2017 – Past Council Chair
Theatre Arts Teacher, Labay Middle School, Harris County, Texas
Growing up, Claire wanted to be a teacher like her mother who was an educator. She stumbled into theatre and fell in love. At Kingwood High School, she worked with the dedicated teacher who created so many opportunities to explore all aspects of theatre. By her junior year, she had the joy of working with young artists and learned that teaching theatre was the only path for her.
Describing her experiences at COFA, she says, “You get to explore everything. One of my goals in the program was to know enough to teach enough!”
“In my first few weeks as a teacher, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that every day is a ‘first’ day. You are going to try new ideas, teach new lessons, and encounter new problems each day. Explore your imagination, discover your limits, and work hard for your students and your art!”