2017 Dean’s Award for Excellence Recipients Announced

The School of Arts and Communication Dean’s Awards for Excellence was awarded to nine extraordinary graduating students on May 24, 2017. The Dean’s Awards honor students for exceptional, tangible accomplishments, which could include:

  • Independent research, student/faculty research or creative project
  • A presentation or publication for a regional or national audience
  • Regional or national academic competitions
  • Superior performance in the performing arts
  • Superior artistic creation in the studio arts
  • Leadership or significant contribution to collaborative success in recognized curricular or co-curricular organizations

2017 Recipients

Cara produced several noteworthy accomplishments over her time at PLU – contributing her enormous skills and energy to MediaLab, Student Media, and most recently, the independent research and student/faculty documentary project focused on sex trafficking in the Philippines.

This documentary, funded by a grant from PLU’s Diversity, Justice and Sustainability program for travel to the Philippines, was premiered in May 2017 to critical acclaim. Cara not only wrote and facilitated the grant, but conducted the research, wrote the documentary script, shot the footage, and edited the final project.

Emilio was chosen to write the student orchestra composition in Spring 2016 and premiered his work “Obsession” with the PLU Symphony Orchestra. In Fall 2016, his composition “El Chupacabra” was selected for performance by the PLU Wind Ensemble. He was also selected by the Kent School District for a commissioned piece for intermediate band, which was premiered in June 2017.

Emilio’s excellence as a composer has been recognized by a full tuition, plus stipend graduate assistantship, at Bowling Green State University, where he began in Fall 2017, pursuing a Master in Composition and teaching Music Appreciation.

Kate has been a superlative member of the Debate Team for the past three years.

This past March 2017, she and her colleague Matt Aust, were PLU’s first ever international debating champions. They competed at the Pan-American Debating Championships in California against debaters for universities nationwide and more than 9 different countries, and won first place in the Spanish Language division. In the final round, they defeated Cornell University and University of Denver.

Kate also runs the debate team’s PR – coordinating events and developing strategies to raise visibility.

Shelondra has been the driving force to reinvigorate PLU’s Black Student Union.

She has led a group of current students to realize the positive benefits of this powerful student organization at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Shelondra, who served as President of this organization, brought it back to life by bringing her unparalleled skills of strategic communication into play. She designed and developed the groups social media at high levels of interaction, and developed and promoted the enormously successful events during Black History Month last year at PLU.

Laura has the honor of being the first non-SOAC major or minor ever to receive the Dean’s Award. Laura was recommended for this award as one of the “finest student violinists” ever at PLU.

Laura has performed a solo recital every year while at PLU – including the fall semester prior to her studying away during her sophomore year and including her senior recital that begins in just about an hour! – and won the Student Soloist competition last year, performing one of the most fearsomely difficult violin concertos – the Violin Concerto by Erich Korngold.

She is a perfect example of PLU’s incredible institutional commitment to the arts, linking them firmly to the liberal arts and international education, and making all of these opportunities available for every student at PLU – regardless of their major or minor.

She has served as the Concertmaster of the Orchestra each year – including on the nationally broadcast PLU Christmas Concert special.

Rebecca’s recommenders boasted of her incredible talent in ceramics, and her beautiful work exhibited in the Senior Exhibition. The insightful and engaging way she handles her subject matter, her craftsmanship, and attention to detail are of the highest level.

In addition to her incredible talent as a ceramicist, she is equally dedicated to academics and service. While many students must find work during their time at PLU, Rebecca found meaningful work and service the relate directly to the values and mission of PLU. She worked as a tutor in the local school district for students at Gates, Franklin Pierce and Washington High Schools and Keithley Middle School. In addition, she has participated in the last four Empty Bowls events serving the needs of our local food banks and the community at large.

All of Jenny’s recommenders celebrated her incredible talent in graphic design and publishing and printing arts, and her beautiful award-winning work exhibited in the Senior Exhibition. Her artwork is not only amazingly beautiful craftsmanship: it is also a useful guidebook for high school seniors going to college.

Jenny is more than just a designer – she is a curious individual who allows herself to explore her degree, her passions, and her community – she looks for connections outside of the obvious.

Jenny is a member of the Black and Gold Chapter of Mortar Board – the National Honor Society, is active in service projects, and is the student director of Impact. She is a world traveler, a scholar of the highest rank, multilingual (in Latin!), and is dedicated to a life of inquiry, service, and care.

Sarah is a musician of the highest caliber. As a French Hornist, she quickly established herself as an exceptionally strong organizer and leader. She set a very strong example for her peers and they are better because of her presence.

To say that Sarah is well rounded would be an understatement. This past year, Sarah was the Horn Section Leader of the Wind Ensemble, Student Concerto Soloist winner for voice, and was student conductor of Concert Band. She also worked as the Ensemble Librarian, and helped guide the student workers for the yearly Honor Band.

Her impeccable work ethic, seriousness of purpose, and enthusiastic nature, will hold her in good stead as she moves forward into her student teaching semester and onwards.

Jacob has been an invaluable asset to every single production within the Theatre and Dance program – both student and faculty shows. He has an incredible breadth of talents and experience, which he brings to every position in which he works – actor, director, playwright, designer, stage manager, office manager, APO officer, program and graphic designer, among many more.

His enthusiasm and tireless work onstage and backstage is a model for his colleagues.

In particular last year, Jacob was the co-director of the wonderful production of Godspell and he adapted and produced a production of Romeo & Juliet for Alpha Psi Omega. This production played to near sell-out performances, reaching more than 350 patrons, and introduced Shakespeare in a way that both honored the work and connected it to modern audiences.

The production was so successful, that Act 1 Theatre in Puyallup has asked to transfer the script, production concept and director to produce it in their 2017-18 Season in January, 2018. This is an amazing accomplishment.