2020 End-of-Year Awards Honor Students and Faculty

Recipients selected for awards from the University and from Meadows

Orchestra on stage, girl playing cello with organ in background

Every spring, individual divisions of the Meadows School of the Arts select outstanding students for special awards recognizing their scholarship, creative talent and community involvement. Students also may be honored by their divisions by being selected to serve as a Reader or Marshal for Commencement.

In addition, nine Meadows students and faculty have been honored with special awards from the University for 2020, and the Meadows School announced the winner of its prestigious annual Meadows Distinguished Teaching Professorship, or “Golden Apple” award.

Winners of the SMU and Meadows School of the Arts departmental awards for 2020 are as follows:


Tony Pederson, professor and Belo Foundation Endowed Distinguished Chair in Journalism, received the Willis M. Tate Award. The award, presented by the Students’ Association, honors an outstanding faculty member who has been involved in student life.

Sara Romersberger, associate professor in the Division of Theatre, was one of three recipients of the Extra Mile Award, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences.

Darian Taylor, SMU student body president and a double major in CCPA (Corporate Communication and Public Affairs) at Meadows and public policy at Dedman, received the “M” Award, SMU’s most prestigious honor. It is presented each year to up to five faculty members and 10 students whose contributions to the University are “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Hannah Miller, a double major in journalism and political science and a cross country/track and field athlete, received the Scholar/Athlete Presidential Award of Excellence. The award is given to a graduating senior with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who has demonstrated outstanding ability in their sport and in the classroom.

CCPA major Alexandrea Payne won the Avella Winn Hay Award, given each year to a graduating senior based on scholarly excellence, exemplary character and significant contribution to the SMU community.

Music therapy major Madison Williamson was among the five winners of the Sheri Mooney Memorial Recognition award from the Office of the Chaplain. The award is presented to students whose Christian faith is evident as a recognizable priority in their day-to-day campus life.

CCPA and business double major Caroline Matthews was among the six recipients of the John L. Freehafer Memorial Award, given by the University to a select few students every year who have demonstrated an interest in student life, activities and government and/or who have a special interest in how people govern themselves.

CCPA major Katherine Adams and advertising major Chase Drexler were among the six campus recipients of the A. Kenneth Pye Outstanding Greek Leader Award. The highest award for Greek life at SMU, the Pye Award recognizes students based on scholarship, community involvement, campus involvement and personal commitment to the ideals of their fraternity or sorority.

(all graduating seniors unless otherwise noted)

Temerlin Advertising Institute

Outstanding Academic Achievement in Digital Media Strategy – Kayla Griffis
Outstanding Academic Achievement in Creative Advertising – Allie Hartman

Outstanding Academic Achievement in Strategic Brand Management – Megan Robertson
Outstanding Graduate Student – Piper Hamill

Outstanding Graphic Designer – Rani Vestal

Donald John Carty Leadership Award – Allie Hartman

The award and stipend are presented to a graduating student in recognition of leadership in the classroom, the Temerlin Advertising Institute, and beyond.

TAI Anchor Award – Sarah Katsikas

Given to a student who consistently “pulls more than his/her weight” in bringing projects to fruition.

TAI Optimizer Award – Lauren Kobayashi

Given to a student who demonstrates a desire and aptitude to make work better through superior work strategies and iteration.

TAI Social Impact Award – Kell Klopp

Given to a student who exemplifies aspects of social responsibility in their advertising work and beyond.

TAI Resilience Award – Kaleb Mulugeta

Given to a student who deals effectively with project setbacks while maintaining a positive attitude and demonstrating a resolve to produce outstanding work.

TAI Service Award – Kayla Griffis

Given to a student who renders substantial service to the campus at large as well as in the greater community.

TAI Team Player Award – Susan Slaton

Given to a student in recognition of contributions to team projects and activities.

Face of TAI Award – Meryn Kenned

Given to a student who represents the best of what the Temerlin Advertising Institute is meant to be within Meadows, SMU and/or the advertising industry.

Kappa Tau Alpha Initiates – Undergraduate: Kayla Griffis, Allie Hartman, Shelby Nutter and Megan Robertson; Graduate: Piper Hamill

Kappa Tau Alpha is a college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.

Marshal – Kayla Griffis
Reader (graduate student) – Piper Hamill
Reader (undergraduate student) – Allie Hartman

TAI Faculty/Staff Awards:

TAI Scholar of the Year – Associate Professor Sid Muralidharan

TAI Research Fellow – Professor Carrie La Ferle

Adjunct Professor Extraordinaire – Marie Bos Burns

Service Exemplar – Senior Lecturer Cheryl Mendenhall

Student Support Super Stars – Lecturer Mark Allen and Executive-in-Residence Amber Benson

Professors Inspiring Excellence – Visiting Professor of Practice Gordon Law, Professor of Practice Peter Noble and Assistant Professor Quan Xie

Division of Art 

Frances B. Cowan Award in Printmaking – Ian Grieve
Mary Vernon Painting Prize – Kate Owen

The Mary Vernon Painting Prize was established by donors in 2016 in honor of Vernon’s long, successful career as both an artist and professor at SMU. The award is presented annually to an art major with outstanding dedication to the craft of painting, as judged by faculty, and provides funds toward establishment of an art career.

Marshal – Elizabeth Betzen
Reader – Hannah Bowlin

Department of Art History

Alessandra Comini Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Art History Major – Andrea Del Angel

Outstanding Senior Award – Heather Smith

Marshal – Cameron McConnell
Reader – Heather Smith


Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

(Note: These students are receiving graduate degrees.)

Lanham Deal Internship Award – Valerie Pizzato

This award recognizes and assists outstanding students in arts management. The award was established in honor of Lanham Deal, a Meadows alumnus and prominent leader of music organizations in Dallas in the decades after World War II.

Diane and Hal Brierley Endowed Scholarship Fund – Betty Belay

The Diane and Hal Brierley Endowed Scholarship Fund for the Meadows School of the Arts was established to support scholarships for Meadows students, with a preference for those who are engaged in study and research through the Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement at Cox School of Business.

Marshal – Samantha Schwendeman
Reader – Betty Belay

Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Outstanding Academic Achievement – Nicole Kiser
Outstanding Student in Organizational Communication – Caroline Matthews

Outstanding Student in Political Communication – Hank Cohen
Outstanding Student in Public Relations and Strategic Communication – Melanie Ekizian and Brooke Sinek

Outstanding Student in Social Innovation and Nonprofit Engagement – Jerry Crayton

Outstanding Senior in PRSSA Alex Payne

Outstanding Student in mustangconsulting – Alex Payne

CCPA Fellows – Kate Adams, Helena Burns and Karna Small

Kappa Tau Alpha Initiates – CCPA: Nicole Kiser, Caroline Matthews and Olivia Matthews; Public Relations and Strategic Communication: Kate Adams and Molly McNulty

Kappa Tau Alpha is a college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.

Marshal – Darian Taylor
Reader – Emma Castelan

Division of Dance

Outstanding Achievement in Dance – Hana Alford and Ke’ala O’Connell
Marshal – Avery Alexander
Reader – Kat Robertson

Division of Film and Media Arts

Outstanding Scholarly Achievement – Sophie Scott
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Film/Media Production – Clayton Caple

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Screenwriting – Kelsey Hodge

Nash Parsley Memorial Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement – Aggie Ryan
Marshal – Gus Rives

Reader – Alli Barta

Division of Journalism

Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism – Dylan Murphy

Outstanding Achievement in Digital Journalism – Mary Grace Metheny

Outstanding Achievement in Writing & Editing – Cristin Espinosa

Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Media – Ali Mikles

Kappa Tau Alpha Initiates – Journalism: Cristin Espinosa, Mary Grace Metheny and Ashleigh Smith; Fashion Media: Sydney Beal, Chisara (Belle) Campbell and Ali Mikles

Kappa Tau Alpha is a college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.

Marshal – Ashleigh Smith
Reader – Cassidy Najarian

Division of Music

Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Music – Christopher Stubblefield and Claire Lin Shang Givens

Concerto Competition Winners – Akari Mizumoto, piano (graduate student); Davide Cava, piano (graduate student); Kahoru Amano, piano (graduate student); Alternate Jacob Hord, marimba (junior); Honorable Mention Ardeen Pierre, soprano (graduate student)

Pi Kappa Lambda Initiates – Danny Jordan (senior), Matthew Schaul (graduate student), Kahoru Amano (graduate student), Oona Clay (senior), Kristi Gleason (graduate student) and John Bookas (senior)

Pi Kappa Lambda is a national honorary music society; membership is based on artistic achievement, scholarly excellence and exemplary character.

Thomas Hayward Memorial Award – Akari Mizumoto (graduate student)

The Thomas Hayward Award was established in honor of his incredible teaching at Meadows from 1964 until his retirement in 1994. Tom’s career included 14 years as a leading tenor with the Metropolitan Opera. This award goes to an undergraduate voice major with a GPA above 3.0, chosen by the faculty.

Norman L. Jacobs Memorial Award – Patrick O’Brien (sophomore)

The Norman L. Jacobs Memorial Award is given to a student or students selected by the brass faculty for outstanding contribution through performances, studio and master classes.

Roy and Sue Johnson Award – Christopher Stubblefield (senior)

The Roy and Sue Johnson Award is given to a graduating senior or graduate student in any music field selected by a vote of the entire music faculty for a combination of high standards in scholarship and artistry.

Roy and Sue Johnson Opera Theatre Award – Olivia Duncan and Joseph Goodale (graduate students)

The Roy and Sue Johnson Award in Opera Theatre is given to outstanding graduate members of the opera theatre class - with the preference that they go to one man and one woman.

Roy and Sue Johnson Award in Organ or Sacred Music in Honor of Robert T. Anderson – Owen Reid (graduate student)

The Roy and Sue Johnson Award in Organ or Sacred Music was established to honor distinguished Professor Emeritus of Organ and Sacred Music Dr. Robert T. Anderson, and recognizes outstanding achievement in this area.

Roy and Sue Johnson Award in Memory of Maurice Acers – Eliana Yi (graduate student)

This award is in memory of the Johnsons’ good friend and fellow musician, Maurice Acers. Because of Mr. Acers’ keen interest in sharing his love of music, they wanted this award to recognize outstanding contributions of a student active in teaching in the general education curriculum or community outreach activities involving music.

Roy and Sue Johnson Award in Honor of Dr. Herbert Turrentine – Greg Eckhardt (graduate student)

This award is given to the student for excellence in the area of Music History, particularly in the area of thesis.

Lloyd Pfautsch Award – Daniel Bouchard (graduate student)

Established by an endowment created by the friends and former students of Lloyd Pfautsch, former choral director of the Division of Music, the Lloyd Pfautsch Award is selected by all choir members for someone who demonstrates leadership, musicianship and scholarship.

Charles & Jeanne Hammett Award for Excellence in Lyric Theatre – Sarah Ann Holt (graduate student)

Theodore Presser Scholarship – Austin Ruff (junior)

Being selected as a Presser Scholar is one of the most prestigious achievements in any undergraduate music school. The Presser Scholar receives a financial award at the beginning of the fall semester and their name is engraved on a plaque that hangs permanently in the Meadows Music Division office.

Sigma Alpha Iota Award – Julia Brandenburg, (graduate student)

This award is designated for the person chosen by the ensemble directors for scholarship and outstanding contribution to a performing ensemble. Sigma Alpha Iota is a national, professional music fraternity and the Division of Music is grateful for this award, which hey present each year.

Paul Van Katwijk Award – Elizabeth Smith (senior)

The Van Katwijk Award is given in honor of Paul van Katwijk, dean of the School of Music at SMU from 1919 to 1949. This award goes to an outstanding undergraduate piano major selected by the piano faculty.

The Paul Vellucci Piano Award – Victor Diaz-Hurtado (graduate student)

This award is given in honor of Paul Vellucci, a former SMU piano faculty member, conductor and one of the great vocal coaches in the U.S. The award recognizes an outstanding piano student and is selected by the piano faculty.

Harold Von Mickwitz Prize in Piano – Davide Cava (graduate student)

The prize, named after the first dean of the Meadows School of Music (1916-1918), is presented to the pianist who performs with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the annual Concerto Competition.

Dora Poteet Barclay Award – Julian Petrallia (graduate student)

This award is given to a graduate organ major as well as junior/senior level majors with a 3.0 average or higher, as selected by the organ music faculty.

Marshal – Christopher Stubblefield

Reader (graduate student) – Victor Diaz-Hurtado
Reader (undergraduate student) – Miranda Macias

Division of Theatre

Undergraduate Award for Academic Excellence in the Division of Theatre – Lauren Floyd, Stephanie Keese, Daniel Lovelle, Matthew Manelli and Amber Rossi

Edyth Renshaw Award – Matthew Manelli

This award is given to an outstanding senior student for contribution to the division, academic achievement, and outstanding promise as an actor, director or designer.

Lu Gene Singleton Award – Coda Boyce

This award is given to a student for exceptional acts of service, either to individuals or to the department, and for a prevailing generosity of spirit, which marks this individual’s distinction.

Garland Wright Award for Directing – Matthew Manelli

This award is given in honor of Garland Wright to an outstanding student or students in the field of directing. Wright was a 1969 graduate of SMU and a major artistic voice in American theatre.

Taubman Scholarship for Excellence in Graduate Stage Design – Natalie Mabry

This award is given to a first- or second-year graduate design student.

Bob Hope Award for Design – Rose Cobey

This award is given to an outstanding second- or third-year design graduate student for scholarship, classroom leadership, academic achievement, self-development, progress as a designer in major studio and classroom performances, and production contribution.

Bill and Jean Eckart Award in Design – Bri Tobin

This award is given in honor of the Eckarts, a husband and wife team of theatre designers who designed lighting, sets and costumes for such shows as Mame, Damn Yankees, Fiorello!, Of Mice & Men and more during the 1950s and 1960s, receiving three Tony Awards for their work. They taught design at SMU in the 1990s.

Bob Hope Scholarship for Excellence in Graduate Acting – Camilla Frontain

This award is given to a first- or second-year graduate acting student.

Bob Hope Scholarship for Excellence in Undergraduate Acting – Juan Valeriano

Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Graduate Acting – Sydney Lo

This award is given to an outstanding graduate acting student for scholarship, classroom leadership, academic achievement, self-development, progress as a performer in major studio and classroom performances, and production contribution.

Greer Garson Awards – Lauren Floyd, Stevie Keese, Thomas Magee and Amber Rossi

These awards are given to senior undergraduate theatre majors who, in the opinion of designated members of the faculty, have demonstrated excellence, aptitude and dedication in the art of acting. 

Dallas Foundation Award – Jeliannys Acevedo

This award is made possible by The Dallas Foundation, which serves as a leader, catalyst and resource for philanthropy by providing donors with flexible means of making gifts and bequests, primarily supporting causes of the city and county of Dallas. 

Margo Jones Scholarship for Graduate Acting – Galen Sato

This award is given to an outstanding graduate acting student for artistic achievement.

Katie Featherston Awards – Coda Boyce, Lauren Floyd and Amber Rossi

Alumna Katie Featherston provides $600 each for three graduating B.F.A. students to use toward headshots and/or moving expenses as they launch their careers.

Partner’s Award – Danny Lovelle, Thomas Magee and Tony Thorn

This award celebrates the students who have most successfully supported their peers as a scene partner or collaborator in the classrooms and rehearsal halls of the Theatre Division during the school year.

Rosenfield Playwriting Awards – Zoe Kerr, Matthew Manelli, Kylie Ritter, Bonnie Scott, Mac Welch and Maria Calderon Zavala

This award is given in honor of John and Claire Rosenfield to celebrate excellence in undergraduate playwriting. John Rosenfield was the theatre critic for The Dallas Morning News from 1926 to 1966, becoming a recognized spokesperson for the culture and arts of the southwestern U.S.

Charley Helfert Award – Tharmella Nyahoza

This award goes to a first year who is kind to others. Professor Emeritus Charley Helfert believes that everyone should be kind, but since a lot of people aren’t, those who are should be appreciated.

Marshal – Danny Lovelle
Reader (graduate student) – Sydney Lo
Reader (undergraduate student) – Coda Boyce