College of the Arts Honors

COA Honorees

2020 College of the Arts Honors Day Virtual Celebration 

Congratulations honorees and graduates! The journey to this day has been filled with many successes and challenges. Your hard work, dedication, and perseverance have paid off. You are the leaders of today and tomorrow, we want you to know that Valdosta State University and the College of the Arts is very proud of your accomplishments. 

We recognize those students who have been selected by their program faculty as having achieved an exemplary level of performance, who have represented their disciplines as leaders. Dedication, excellence, hard work, discipline... these are just a few of the necessary attributes that a student must possess in order to be successful in their future.

Download the 2020 COA Honors Program (printable pdf)


2020 College of the Arts - Honors

  • Congratulations from Dean Blake Pearce

    Congratulations 2020 COA Honorees and Graduates!

    The artist Chuck Close stated:

    “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

    The gift of talent is just that, a gift. How we use that talent and refine it to be something special is our responsibility, our calling. The awardees recognized below are those individuals who felt that they needed to run through it one more time, even though no one asked them to do so. They knew that there was always more out there; that re-working, reviewing, or doing it again was an opportunity, not a burden.

    These students worked to the point of exhaustion, through late hours in a studio, lab, practice room, the library, or in the field, but despite the level of exhaustion, there was no other place they would rather be. They recognized how valuable the experience of discovery, of failure, and resulting growth can be in an academic environment. You may not believe this today but you will miss it, and look back on the hardest days with fond memories.

    Congratulations again to our outstanding COA students. Have a wonderful summer, and please stay healthy and safe.

    A. Blake Pearce - Dean, College of the Arts

    Dean Blake Pearce

  • Department of Art & Design

    Nariel Tribble

    Outstanding BA-Art Student: Nariel Tribble

    Hometown: Savannah, GA
    Degree/Program: Bachelor of Arts in Art

    Post-Graduation Plans: I graduate in Spring 2020. After these unfortunate circumstances the world is facing, I'm hoping and planning to study abroad in a year to attend a private metalsmithing course in Italy.

    Faculty Comments: Nariel is a wonderful student, arriving to class early, staying late, and always doing more than is asked of her for each assignment. Nariel never fails to help someone who is struggling, both during class and in her free studio time. More important than any of that, she is a kind and generous person. I have never met anyone that doesn't get along with Nariel. She has the power to unify a room full of disparate voices, just with her generosity, kindness, and easy wit. Nariel genuinely cares about her studies and gives everything she has to each endeavor she undertakes. Her absence will be felt in the metals studio for semesters to come.


    Shelby Coulter

    Outstanding BFA-Art Student: Shelby Coulter

    Hometown: Jackson, GA
    Degree/Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art

    Post-Graduation Plans: To build a career in Graphic Design.

    Faculty Comments: From the very first day of classes, I immediately knew Shelby had a serious approach to learning how to be a professional artist. Shelby has developed into a risk-taking, taboo-breaking, force. She welcomes highly constructive criticism of her work both from group and one-on-one critiques. In the two years I have known Shelby, she has transformed into a confident and fierce seeker. A seeker of knowledge, of oneself, and of others.


    Viola Davis

    Dept. of Art & Design Excellence in Service Award: Viola Davis

    Hometown: Kingsland, GA
    Degree/Program: BFA in Art Education w/minor in Psychology

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to teach high school art in Georgia, and slowly work my way to graduate school, to get a masters in art therapy.

    Faculty Comments: Viola Davis is an incredible student and dedicates herself to serving the community. She works to raise critical consciousness inside and outside of the classroom. She dedicates herself to teaching others community events with Plough Gallery, the afterschool program at the Turner Center for the Arts, and VSU’s BioBlitz event. Beyond giving back to the community and providing quality art education, she works to develop professionally through her involvement with the VSU Art Education Student Chapter and her attendance at professional conferences like the Art and Education for Social Justice Symposium. Viola will change lives through her innovative curriculum and her culturally relevant pedagogy. Because of her exemplary service work in the program, department, and community, she has earned the Department of Art & Design Excellence in Service Award.


    Abby Mickler

    Outstanding BFA-Art Education Student: Abby Mickler

    Hometown: Jasper, FL
    Degree/Program: BFA in Art Education

    Post-Graduation Plans: Graduating May 2021.

    Faculty Comments: Abby Mickler is an amazing student and preservice teacher. She engages thoughtfully in all class assignments and discussions, shows in juried art shows, and excels in the k-12 classroom.


    Brooke Goins

    Outstanding BFA- Interior Design Student: Brook Goins

    Hometown: Douglasville, GA
    Degree/Program: BFA in Interior Design

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to get a job at a design firm and work towards getting my design certifications, as well as, eventually, starting my own house flipping business!

    Faculty Comments: Brooke was part of the team to receive the first place regional award for the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) student design competition. Her restaurant project design was also accepted into the VSU Juried Student Design Competition. Brooke continues to impress me with her outstanding work ethic and commitment to her interior design projects by going above and beyond project scope requirements.
    Brooke is a very dedicated student who shows a diligence in taking feedback and improving her designs and herself.


    Hae Seong Lee

    Meritorious Accomplishment Award-Interior Design: Haeseong Lee

    Hometown: Busan, Republic of Korea
    Degree/Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Interior Design

    Post-Graduation Plans: I’m searching for the job!

    Faculty Comments: Haeseong was one of two students to have his project selected for entry to the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition and was also in the top three submissions for the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) student design competition. His restaurant project was also accepted into the VSU Juried Student Design Competition. Haeseong has an amazing work ethic and continues to produce professional quality work. Haeseong shows a huge dedication to his work where he integrates his cultural background. His work shows very strong architectural influence.


    Rachel McKenzie Mathis

    *College of the Arts Banner Carrier

    Outstanding Art Student - Overall: Rachel Mathis

    Hometown: Nashville, GA
    Degree/Program: BA in Interior Design

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to stay with my current employer, Chicken Salad Chick, and transition into a management position with the opening of the Tifton location.

    Faculty Comments: I have witnessed Rachel maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA during this time, placing her on the Dean’s list every semester she has been at VSU. She has been nominated as a representative for the 2020 Georgia Legislative Academic Recognition Day and nominated for the Anne Powe Hopper Award. Rachel also holds the honor of having some of her art shown in the Dedo Maranville Art Gallery here on VSU’s campus.

    Rachel is the type of student that an educator realizes has a clear focused goal in life not just school. She is receptive to constructive criticism, shows a desire to succeed, and questions existing methodologies to discover ones that work for her. Determined, resourceful, energetic, and unyielding in her quest for knowledge are just a few ways to describe Rachel. With her skill set and with her desire for learning, she is capable of achieving success at anything she applies herself to.
    Rachel received an Honorable Mention award for her Steelcase NEXT project as part of the VSU Juried Student Design Competition completed in the Interior Design Studio V course. She is an extremely strong student who is especially detail oriented in her research and is very gifted with working with color and pattern in her work.

  • Department of Communication Arts

    Taylor Sanders

    Academic Excellence – Dance: Taylor Sanders

    Hometown: Valdosta, GA
    Degree/Program: Dance Major

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will continue teaching dance until eventually move on to dancing professionally.

    Faculty Comments: Taylor Sanders is the finest example of when hard work, determination, and dedication intersect. Her perseverance to go from a raw and inexperienced freshman stepping in for her first formal ballet class to an artist who knows who she is, ready to put her mark on the world.


    Erykah Finklea

    Service Excellence – Dance: Erykah Finklea

    Hometown: Palmetto, FL
    Degree/Program: Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance

    Post-Graduation Plans: I have taken a position at the Bradenton Branch YMCA of Manatee County as the Director of the dance program as well as dance instructor. I am currently in the process of getting my educators certification in Florida to then have the ability to teach dance in a public or private school setting. I will continue teaching dance until eventually move on to dancing professionally.

    Faculty Comments: Erykah was always the first student to respond to any need of the program, no matter how large or small. She regularly stepped up as a student leader to serve the program through clubs and organizations and assisted the faculty in Open Houses, and in any other way that she could.


    Xenia Dickey

    Academic Excellence – Organizational Communication: Xenia Dickey

    Hometown: Copiague, NY
    Degree/Program: BFA in Communication w/emphasis in Organizational Communication

    Post-Graduation Plans: Attend grad school in the Fall of 2020 at VSU in pursuit of a MAIC

    Faculty Comments: Xenia is one of the hardest working students in our department. She is wonderful in the classroom and incredibly helpful to her peers, assisting them in any and every way she can.


    Natalie Roberts

    Academic Excellence – Public Relations: Natalie Roberts

    Degree/Program: BFA in Communication w/emphasis in Public Relations
    Hometown: Valdosta, GA

    Faculty Comments: Natalie is so thoughtful and creative in her work. She goes above and beyond and exemplifies what an outstanding student is.


    Presley Lovins

    Academic Excellence – Interpersonal Communication: Presley Lovins

    Hometown: Villa Rica, GA
    Degree/Program: BFA Communication/Interpersonal Communication & Dance Minor

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to pursue a career in creative feminist media in Miami, FL. I hope to teach somatic dance classes and write online articles as well.

    Faculty Comments: Presley Lovins is a self-motivator who is perceptive, and reliable for quality work. Her bubbly personality also makes her a real delight to people around her.


    Jackson Whipple

    Academic Excellence – Theatre, Jackson Whipple

    Hometown: Melbourne, FL
    Degree/Program: BFA in Theater - Emphasis in Performance

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to write a play to submit at a variety of contests. I also want to audition at a variety of theaters once the social distancing threat has decreased enough.

    Faculty Comments: Jackson has had a significant presence both on our stage and in the classroom. It has been a pleasure to watch him develop his skills and mature as an artist. He will be greatly missed.


    Allyson Broyles

    Research Excellence – Theatre: Catherine “Allyson” Broyles

    Hometown: Hahira, GA
    Degree/Program: Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Theatre Performance, Theatre Management, and History

    Post-Graduation Plans: After my graduation in May 2020, I plan to work as a Literary Intern with the Florida Studio Theatre during their 2020/2021 season.

    Faculty Comments: Allyson has contributed mightily to the theatrical experience at Valdosta State University with her dramaturgy by assisting actors, directors and designers as well as the community at large. Her recognition for this work is evident through the response of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. We are so proud of you!


    Olivia Rosener

    Academic Excellence – Mass Media: Olivia Rosener

    Hometown: Fort Mill, SC
    Degree/Program: Mass Media Communications

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will be graduating in December 2020!

    Faculty Comments: Olivia’s videos, assignments and performances in our various production classes were accomplished with high quality, good humor, and a relaxed ease. Students like Olivia make our teaching jobs rewarding and memorable. She is a born leader.

  • Department of Music

    Caleb Harris

    *College of the Arts Outstanding Student

    Department of Music Outstanding Undergradaute Musician: Caleb Harris

    Hometown: Sylvania, GA
    Degree/Program: BA Music, Education Track

    Caleb was selected as the Department of Music Outstanding Musician for his excellence in performance area and general outstanding work throughout his time at VSU. Caleb has accepted an Assistantship at Columbus State University and also was offered an Assistantship at Arkansas State University. This is the highest honor of the Department of Music and Caleb was also chosen by College of the Arts as Outstanding COA graduate.

    While at VSU, Caleb was an active member of many ensembles and a leader in his performance area. He performed with the Blazin’ Brigade Marching Band, baritone section leader 2 years, staff member 1 year; Wind Ensemble, principal chair-euphonium all four years; New Jazz Ensemble, trombone;
    Jazz Ensemble, trombone; Opera Orchestra, “Hot Shots” Basketball Band; Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble; Trombone Ensemble; Euphonious Quartet; Blazin’ Brass Quartet. Caleb was also selected to perform at the Honors Recital for the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra in 2019 as well as being selected a s Southeast Regional Tuba/Euph Conference Finalist for 2018 and 3rd place Young Artist winner in 2017.

    “Caleb has consistently shown determination to improve and curiosity about music in all forms. He has proven himself to be a leader in the department and set a high bar for those around him to try to meet.” Dr. Charles Goodman”


    Chelsie Jenkins

    Outstanding Service, Music: Chelsie Jenkins

    Hometown: Port Richey, FL
    Degree/Program: BA in Music with an emphasis in Education

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will be attending Texas Tech University in the Fall to pursue a Masters in Music Education
    Congratulations to Chelsie Castellanos (formerly Jenkins), percussionist and graduating with her BA in Music in the education track in May. Chelsie has been a vital and active member of the Department of Music family since the day she arrived. She has participated in the Blazin' Brigade, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble and Steel Band. She served as Front Ensemble Captain and also assisted as technician for the Front Ensemble with Ware County High School. An active member of Sigma Alpha Iota, she is always around our building either assisting one of our ensembles, practicing or just generally helping others. She is one of the few students in our program history to serve as a member of the stage crew for Wednesday Recitals since her freshman year and has been a wonderful representative for our Music Major Experience. Chelsie accepted an offer to begin her Master of Music in Education at Texas Tech University.

    “Chelsie has been a joy to work with during the last four years. I have watched her grow into a confident musician and excellent leader to her peers. She has served the Department of Music in so many ways, this honor and recognition is well-deserved. I wish her the best in her future endeavors as a music educator, wherever it may take her.” Dr. Ryan Smith


    Andrew Copeland

    Outstanding Student, Music: Andrew Copeland

    Hometown: Jacksonville, Fl
    Degree/Program: BA, Music Education track

    Post-Graduation Plans: Continuing on into the MAT program at Valdosta State University.
    Andrew will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in the education track. Andrew won the Outstanding Student Award for the Department of Music based on having the highest GPA of any graduating senior with a 3.88. His work has been consistently outstanding over four years and he has performed with the Blazin’ Brigade Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, and the Sonorous Brass Quintet.
    He will begin his teacher certification in the MAT in Music Education this summer.

    “Andrew has talent and an outstanding work ethic. With these attributes I watched him improve and grow each week in the horn studio. He was an absolute joy to teach.”
    Dr. Kristen Johns


    Breanna Hagy

    Billy Walker Band Award: Breanna Hagy

    Hometown: Perry, GA
    Degree/Program: BA, Music General (Percussion) emphasis in Media

    Post-Graduation Plans: Pursue a Masters in Audio Engineering
    Breanna was selected for her broad and consistent excellence in serving the band program during her time at VSU. This award is given to one student each year who has demonstrated outstanding musical growth and leadership in all aspects of the band program at VSU. Breanna has served in Wind Ensemble as principal percussionist, as drum major and percussion captain in Blazin’ Brigade marching band, and in the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. Breanna graduates this spring and will continue her education in music production.

    “Breanna has served the bands in almost every capacity possible, most notably as drum major of the Blazin’ Brigade and percussion section leader in Wind Ensemble. She has demonstrated outstanding musicianship and leadership during her tenure. Breanna is a dedicated musician, a thoughtful leader, and a good human being. We will miss Breanna greatly next year!” Dr. Benjamin Harper


    Hope Lamb

    Outstanding Student Teacher, Music: Hope Lamb

    Hometown: St. Simons Island, GA
    Degree/Program: Masters of Arts in Teaching in Music Education

    Post-Graduation Plans: Following graduation, Hope plans to stay in Valdosta where she has accepted a job at Moulton-Branch Elementary School as the music teacher for grades kindergarten through 5th grade. Hope will graduate with the MAT in Music Education this summer.  She received her BA in Music from VSU last spring and looks forward to her new job here in Valdosta. She has been offered and accepted a position at Moulton-Branch Elementary School as their new Music Teacher! 

    “Hope Lamb is extraordinarily dedicated to professional growth as a musician and educator as seen throughout her VSU undergraduate and certification programs. Her readiness today assures her embarking upon a career of music teacher leadership for the 21st century. With a deeply embedded passion for teaching and learning, she designs, adapts, and delivers a curriculum that is diverse, creative, and rigorous to engage all whose pathway leads her classroom. We celebrate her numerous accomplishments, and eagerly look forward her career as that teacher who can make the difference.  Congratulations, Hope!”  Dr. Anita Davis


    Hunter McGuary

    Department of Music Outstanding Graduate Musician: Hunter McGuary

    Hometown: Hernando, MS
    Degree/Program: Master of Music Performance-Trombone

    Post-Graduation Plans: I have accepted a Trombone Studio Teaching Assistantship at Florida State University, where I will be pursuing a Doctor of Music in Trombone Performance under the tutelage of Dr. John Drew.

    Hunter was selected as the Outstanding Graduate Musician due to his outstanding performances and leadership role in many ensembles. Hunter performed with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Opera Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Presidential Brass Quintet, Trombone Ensemble as well as with area churches, the Albany Symphony Orchestra and occasionally with Joe Smothers duo. Hunter also won the 2020 Valdosta Symphony Orchestra concerto competition and was featured soloist early in spring of 2020. 

    Based on his successful spring auditions, he was admitted into the Doctor of Musical Arts programs at Florida State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and Indiana University. 

    “Hunter worked extremely hard every week to improve his abilities, expertise and musicianship as a trombonist, and his efforts paid off by his acceptance into three of the most prestigious music programs in the United States.  I am excited about his future and acceptance of the offer to begin his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at FSU.”  Dr. Doug Farwell


    Hilary Brooks

    Outstanding Graduate Service, Music: Hilary Brooks

    Hometown: Folkston, GA
    Degree/Program: Master of Music in Performance Degree in Vocal Performance

    Post-Graduation Plans: Accepted new teaching position at Camden County teaching science and AP Music Theory.
    Congratulations to Hilary Brooks-M.M.P. Voice. Hilary holds the B.A. in Music and B.S. in Chemistry degrees, both summa cum laude, and the M.A.T. in Secondary Education, all from VSU. She will graduate with her M.M.P. degree in Vocal Performance in May. She has been the Graduate Teaching Assistant and Instructor of Record in the Music Theory Area, taught applied voice, and held other assistantship duties in the Opera, Choral, and Perspectives Areas. A former high school chemistry teacher, she loves being in the classroom and has filled in on short notice on multiple occasions.

    “Hilary Brooks is the perfect music theory teaching assistant. A former high school chemistry teacher, she has a fine analytical mind, which is invaluable for her understanding and teaching of the subject matter. She is conscientious to a fault, and if she tells you she will do something, you don't need to give it another thought.” Dr. Kenneth Kirk