The 2016 College of the Arts Convocation was a joyous and unforgettable ceremony which featured a show-stopping performance by Distinguished Alumna Award recipient Melba Moore ’70, where Sprague Field resonated with the gleeful cheer of families and friends seated in the bleachers.
Dressed in regalia and grinning from ear-to-ear, graduating students posed for photos with their teachers, while laughing, embracing and trading stories. They also had much to share about taking the step from student to graduate, and reflected thoughtfully on their plans after graduation.
Reem Ibrahem, who delivered the Senior Address, graduated from the Art Education program and explained her thoughts as the chosen voice of the class of 2016. “Arts has been a passion my entire life, and it feels as though every moment has been building toward this day. I’ll be getting my degree, walking across stage and delivering the Senior Address, so it’s a very special day for me.” Ms. Ibrahem, who in the fall will be beginning her career as an art teacher at Paterson School No. 7, shared that if the faculty did not encourage her talents, she wouldn’t have pursued sculpture as her discipline of study. Ms. Ibrahem’s advice to students working their way to graduation was: “Don’t be dissuaded. If you have a vision for yourself, set a plan and strategy to accomplish it: go for it, and more power to you.”
Musical Theatre graduate Darius Jordan Lee, who has starred in countless productions on campus such as 42nd Street and Hair, is joining the cast of Mamma Mia at the John W. Engeman Theatre in New York this summer. “I’m the first Lee in my family to graduate from college so it means the world for me to be here,” explained Mr. Lee, who as a powerhouse of talent as an actor, dancer, and singer, was encouraged by all members of faculty. “The Department of Theatre and Dance as a whole has encouraged me along the way; they’ve helped me get to where I need to be as a creative professional.” Mr. Lee’s words of wisdom to aspiring students of theatre: “Don’t give up, if your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, you can achieve it.”
John J. Cali School of Music graduate Kara Delonas is leaving Montclair State after prodigious study in Double Bass Performance, and will be rushing off after the ceremony to Colorado, to play at Creede Repertory Theatre for the summer season. Ms. Delonas who has also performed in several festivals around the country is thankful to everyone at the School of Music for their help, including faculty member Linda McKnight, a foremost teacher of the double bass in the country, and Gina Balestracci, the academic administrator of the program. “Practice every day, always strive to be the best, and never settle. Even if you’re pleased with your work, you always have room to improve,” was Ms. Delonas’s recommendation to performance students. It’s clear she’s followed her own advice as she embarks on an impressive performance career.
Leonor Marion Landais, a BFA Studio Arts graduate who specializes in ceramics, is enthusiastic to continue her studies and is dedicated to growing as an artist. In the fall, Ms. Landais will be beginning a Master in Fine Arts program at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and is grateful to the Department of Art and Design faculty who have aided in her creative development. “I feel it’s important to get as much insight as possible into your work, and because the faculty, such as my mentor Owen Oertling, were so accessible and available to help, I’m grateful to have had that opportunity as an artist,” said Ms. Landais. As she described her anticipation to continue her arts education and expand her experience as a visual artist, Ms. Landais offered her advice to aspiring students of art: “Be dedicated to your work in the studio. Regardless of your talents or gift, be dedicated to your growth as an artist by committing to your time to working in the studio.”
As a Television and Digital Media Division graduate of the School of Communication and Media, Sam Romano worked as sports director and web editor at the campus radio station WMSC, wrote for the The Montclarion, and helped produce weekly episodes of Carpe Diem. “During my time in school I learned everything I needed to be successful and I can’t wait to put all of those skills to use,” Ms. Romano shared about preparing for a career in broadcasting. Ms. Romano, who has just started a position as a Studio Director at News 12, explained how faculty encouraged her career goals. “There are so many professors who have field experience and contacts and are so willing to help the students chase and achieve their dreams. It’s inspiring!”
Dance graduate Emma Pressman was awarded the 2016 Dean’s Scholar/Artist Award, as well as the Theatre and Dance Service Award, and the Linda Roberts Outstanding Dance Senior Award. With these numerous achievements under her belt, Ms. Pressman shared how it felt to be recognized by the College of the Arts Dean as an artist. “This award has made me realize what I have accomplished over the last four years. I knew I was working hard but I never really paused to reflect. I was so honored to be recognized, sitting on that stage gave me the opportunity to look out at all of the people who supported me through it, my friends, my family and my incredible teachers.”
Each of the College’s graduates has contributed immensely to the vitality, spirit, and vast accomplishments of Montclair’s vibrant arts community. They will always be an essential part of Montclair State’s history and future, and will always have a home at the College of the Arts as alumni!
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