Honoring student excellence at spring commencement

Thursday, May 4, 2017

During the 2017 spring commencement ceremony, the College of Fine Arts will recognize one student from each of its three academic units who stood out among their peers. These students were chosen from among the more than 245 graduates.

Jocelyn Chambers

The 20-year-old Austin native is graduating with a B.M. in Music Composition.

Jocelyn Chambers plays a grand piano

Did you have a favorite place to study, practice or rehearse? If so, what is special about it?

The green couches on the third floor of Butler will always have a special place in my heart. They were my go-to whenever I had a lot of work to complete. In addition to studying, I also strengthened a lot of my closest friendships there. I often saw people I knew walking across the hall, and it was a great way to stop them and catch up.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will [hopefully] be taking an internship at the Emmy Foundation in Los Angeles where I will learn how to score music for film. Eventually, I will pursue a graduate certificate in film scoring and move to California to further my career as a collaborative composer.

How would you sum up your experience in the College of Fine Arts?

I've never experienced the kind of community that I found here. I was homeschooled K-12 and thus didn't have a "high school experience," so it was amazing to have so many new, talented friends around me (let alone be around more than one person at a time). I was exposed to a menagerie of perspectives and life backgrounds, and understanding the experiences of others catalyzed my personal growth. I know that could've happened in any college, but I'm so glad it happened within COFA.

Looking back, are there any memories, projects or classes you would like to share?

I'm a proficient pianist, but I only performed once during my time at UT. It wasn't something I was required to do, and I usually shied away from the opportunity. I'm not a performance major, and while I thought I was decent, I didn't think I was very good. This past February, I had the opportunity to perform at Butler's annual Black History Month Concert. I picked a piece, learned it, perfected it, sought help from pianists I looked up to and performed. I tapped into this vulnerability that I don't experience when composing or singing. I felt so cleansed. I realized then that I'm completely in love with my instrument. Even though my formal education is coming to a close, I still want to learn. I didn't come to UT to play the piano, but I can confidently say that my ability as a pianist flourished. I'm so happy about that.

Conner Palmore

The 22-year-old Texarkana native will receive a B.F.A. in Theatre Studies.

Conner Palmore looks to the left

Did you have a favorite place to study, practice or rehearse? If so, what is special about it?

I loved rehearsing in dance studios. Whether it was a Shakespeare monologue or musical theatre choreography, the wall of mirrors next to a wall of windows was the most serene space. Being able to focus on your own work or the work of others no matter what way you are looking was amazing, and seeing the sunset during rehearsal made it even better.

What are your plans after graduation?

I have the fan-nut-tastic opportunNUTy to hop in the 26-foot long Nutmobile and travel the country. Working as a mobile public relations unit and social media team for Planters, Mr. Peanut and I will travel the country for a year, spreading nuts into small towns and large cities alike.

How would you sum up your experience in the College of Fine Arts?

These years have been DIFFICULT! I’ve complained, cried, been lost, thought about quitting. But most of all, I always found courage and resiliency in the walls of COFA. COFA taught me to take complaints to action, tears to passion, loss to new experience and desperation to power. COFA has taught me to have the confidence of the best artist in the room, but the wisdom to know that I have the most to learn.

Looking back, are there any memories, projects or classes you would like to share?

SO MANY! For my most recent project, I directed Antonia, a Chicana hip-hop based on the Greek tragedy Antigone. It taught me more about love, work and art than I ever could expect. Getting the chance to work with artists I had crazy respect for and deal with countless hardships every single day taught me to never ever give up. Art changes minds and opens hearts. Antonia taught me to never stop making art that matters to you and never apologize for it.

Endless mentors made my time here phenomenal. Natasha Davison taught me to always try new adventures because you never know what new passions you may find. Roxanne Schroeder-Arce gave me hugs of love, wiping tears and kicking me back to work. KJ Sanchez gave me wisdom and confidence to enter every room as the best, most prepared artist I could be. Quetta Carpenter gave me the fire to fight for the best in yourself and others, ‘cause we're all worth it—and so is our art.

 

Tyler Tschirhart

The 22-year-old San Antonio native majored in both Art History and Biochemistry.

Tyler writes on a legal pad in an art museum

Did you have a favorite place to study, practice or rehearse? If so, what is special about it?

I love the sky bridge between the Student Activity Center and the Liberal Arts building because it offers such a great view and is always quiet. It doesn't hurt that there is a Starbucks downstairs either.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend law school.

How would you sum up your experience in the College of Fine Arts?

Adding art history as a second major was the best decision I ever made in my entire educational career. Each and every professor that I've ever had has been so helpful and encouraging. Art history completely changed the course of my life for the better.

Looking back, are there any memories, projects or classes you would like to share?

Last summer I traveled to the Roman villas at Oplontis with Dr. John Clarke and experienced archeology firsthand. I don't think I could have asked for a more amazing educational experience. I immersed myself in Italian culture for a little over a month and had the opportunity to witness the the monuments of Ancient Rome standing proud among the structures of modern Italy. It was an art history student's dream, truly.

 

  Photos by Lawrence Peart.