Art Education Grads

From the Dean's Desk

May is a time for “Celebration!” Typically, and psychologically, we think of May as the end of the quest, the point at which a goal has either been achieved (think high school and college graduations) or the point at which another begins (May is one of the most common months for weddings).

For the College of Fine Arts, it is a bittersweet time of celebration. Certainly, it is a time to look back at the achievements of the academic year, and to celebrate the achievements of our graduates as they leave us to go out into the world. But each student who leaves us takes with them a piece of our hearts as we mourn the passing of the time they have shared with us.

As we draw to the close of an academic year like no other, that departure has a particular poignancy to it. We will say goodbye to this year’s graduates, and we will wish them well in all their endeavors. But there is a part of us that wishes we could give them back a year of normalcy--to have the opportunity to teach them, train them, and mentor them without the chaotic interruption that this pandemic has caused. Yet at the same time, we know that because they have endured such challenging times and prevailed, our memories of them will be eternally etched in our hearts and minds like no class before them.

We wish them all that life has to offer. They deserve that and so much more.

-Dean Rodney Miller

May 2021 Newsletter



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1. Choose a fund you would like to donate to

Funds will be designated with different hashtags:


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2. Send a text to 52014

Text the number 52014 with ‘@shockers’ followed by the fund hashtag and the amount you are donating.

Example text:
@shockers #dance $15

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3. Follow the link to submit your payment information

You will be asked to insert your payment information to complete your gift to the College of Fine Arts.



Your donation will go directly to the WSU Foundation, in the fund of your choosing. Donations may also be made through the Foundation website:


Upcoming Events

Commencement Cruise

Commencement Cruise - Thursday, May 13th

Join us for the 2nd Annual College of Fine Arts Commencement Cruise! 

College of Fine Arts faculty, staff and graduating seniors (fall 2020 and spring 2021) are invited to cruise around campus, and the rest of our community is invited to come and show their support for our grads! Staging will begin at 7 p.m. and the vehicle procession will start at 7:30 p.m. After processing around campus, participants are invited to park and grab a treat and a T-shirt in the Duerksen Ampitheatre area.

Registration is required for those who plan to drive or ride in the Commencement Cruise.


"Matrilineal Memories" by Cheyla Clawson Chandler


"She Moved the Prairie" Screening and Artist Talk with Cheyla Clawson Chandler


School of Performing Arts Virtual Fundraiser - "Celebrating Creativity During Covid"

Saturday and Sunday, May 15th & 16th, the School of Performing Arts will be showcasing videos and clips of their work since the Coronavirus Pandemic began in 2020. Students, faculty, and staff in SPA adapted and overcame many challenges as the fate of live performances remained uncertain. Tune in to their YouTube Channel for everything Performing Arts during these days, as some of the work may not be online for long! 


Celebrating Our Successes


Winners of Emerging Artists Showcase Announced

Allison Baker, President of WSU Art & Design Advocates and Trish Van Osdel of the Reuben Saunders Gallery annouce the prizes for the 2021 Emerging Artists showcase. Special thanks to The Cotillion for sponsoring the $1,750 in prize money.

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Belonging Plaza

Launch of WSU Belonging Plaza will include tribute to LGBTQ trailblazer Kristi Parker

Wichita State University’s first Belonging Plaza took place Saturday, April 24, east of Weidemann Hall.

Belonging Plaza is an outdoor pop-up commemorative gathering and programming tool designed to move to different locations on campus. A collaboration between Kristin Beal (ADCI Gallery Manager and Strategic Communications’ placemaking coordinator) and Armando Minjarez, (ADCI alum and Office of Diversity and Inclusion student diversity programs coordinator), the plaza will highlight a variety of underrepresented or marginalized trailblazers.

Saturday’s inaugural event honored Kristi Parker, the founder and publisher of Liberty Press, the longest-running LGBTQ news magazine in the United States.


School of Digital Arts adds new degree concentration

The newest School within the College of Fine Arts, the School of Digital Arts (SODA), has added a new concentration for the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Arts. Acting for the Digital Arts focuses on training students for screen acting, in addition to traditional techniques used in stage acting. With ample film studio space, this new concentration offers students hands-on opportunities to gain on-screen experience.

Masara Al-Sharieh

College of Fine Arts Senior Honoree: Masara Al-Sharieh

The College of Fine Arts has chosen Masara Al-Sharieh as its 2021 Senior Honoree. Masara is graduating Summa Cum Laude, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA) degree in Media Arts with a concentration in Collaborative Design, and a minor in Communications, with certificates in Animation and Filmmaking.

Throughout her collegiate career, she has been a part of various student organizations, such as Student Ambassador Society, WSU ASL Club, Mu Delta Alpha Sorority Incorporated, and worked as the Director of Media for Student Government Association. She plans on going into motion design after graduation.

Congratulations Masara!

original story by Wyman Wheeler for The Sunflower

From World of Wu-Shock to World of Warcraft

School of Digital Arts student Zachary Sewell has big plans for the Summer--interning with game development company, Blizzard. Most famously known for its popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft, Blizzard awarded Sewell with an internship that will grant him access to the best resources in the industry. Sewell will be working with Blizzard’s immensely talented game designers on World of Warcraft's Level Design team.

"Being able to intern at Blizzard this summer is something of a dream," Zachary says. "I would never have thought my first experience with a studio would be with one of the largest in the world...Having this internship on my resume sets it above dozens of others and would give me a greater stance of being hired by other companies."
Zachary received his associate's degree in Interactive 3D Media at Butler Community College. "I asked myself, 'Why should I stop here?'. I realized I wanted to learn more about the industry and continue towards my bachelor's degree."  Zachary says that Shocker Studios helped him fine-tune his skills as a Level Designer. "More importantly," he says, "they helped me develop a more professional portfolio, one aimed specifically towards my career goals."


School of Music student receives prestigious Senior Honors award

Abbi Faflick

Music Education student Abbi Faflick has been awarded a Senior Honor, the highest award given to students at Wichita State University. After completing the application process, Abbi was selected by a University committee as one of the few award recipients for 2021.

Abbi Faflick will graduate summa cum laude from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s in Music Education in May 2021. She is currently student teaching at Riverside Elementary School and North High School, and upon graduation she will teach Vocal Music at Coleman Middle School. As a native to Wichita, KS, Abbi’s time in college allowed her to serve WSU and the greater community through her involvement in different organizations.

As Abbi devotes herself to academic studies in the College of Fine Arts and Cohen Honors College, she enriches her education beyond the classroom through a variety of experiences. Abbi has served professional organizations like the Collegiate National Association for Music Education (C-NAFME) and the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA). She led WSU and State C-NAfME Chapters as president, working to provide professional development, volunteer, and music advocacy opportunities to each chapter through meetings throughout the state. To cultivate her passion for choral music, Abbi is an active member of WSU’s ACDA chapter. She served as a regional ambassador at the SWACDA convention in the Spring of 2020. 

Abbi also enjoyed performance opportunities on campus and sang with fellow Shockers any time she could.  In her four years at WSU, Abbi studied voice with Dr. Pina Mozzani, and loved to sing as a member of the WSU Concert Chorale and A Capella choirs. She also performed in Opera Theatre productions, and her favorite roles were L’enfant in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Mae in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene.

Outside of the School of Music, Abbi is an active leader throughout communities on campus and the greater Wichita area. Her time serving on the executive councils of Delta Gamma Sorority and Student Ambassador Society pushed Abbi to grow in love and empathy for all around her. Additionally, she worked as an AVID tutor and assistant at Coleman Middle School, which encouraged her heart for teaching every day.

Abbi strives to spark a passion for joy and people with everyone she encounters. She is especially connected to those who share her heart for the future of music education and inspiring generations to come. She hopes to empower and equip any community she serves, as they each contribute to her life experiences. In her free time, Abbi also enjoys refreshing herself with conversations over coffee, going on long runs, and practicing yoga.

Congratulations Abbi!

Michael Sylvester

Despite a lockdown, School of Music Professor helps singers succeed

Associate Professor of Voice, Michael Sylvester, found ways to adapt to a virtual environment when training young opera singers. Sylvester is the General Director and voice instructor of the Bel Canto Institute San Miguel, a summer training program for young professional opera singers in Mexico.

Due to COVID, the Bel Canto Institute was unable to offer their program last summer. Instead, they held a series of intensive online weekends for the 12 singers that were invited into the program for 2020. These Bel Canto "Weekends" were held from September 2020 through February 2021.

From the group of Mexican singers, five moved up from the Mexican Metropolitan Opera District Auditions (Met Opera Auditions) to the Regional Met Opera Auditions in New Orleans. One singer was awarded first place, and three others were awarded Encouragement Awards. The soprano, who was the first place winner, will go on to complete in the semifinals online (normally held on the Met Stage in NYC) where she will likely become one of the ten finalists for 2021.

Congratulations to Michael Sylvester and all of the Bel Canto singers!

Melissa Koza classMasks

School of Performing Arts Costume Shop plays important role in COVID management

With a full academic year of social distancing under their belts, the College of Fine Arts and its students have grown accustomed to hand washing, Zoom classes, and masks. But a year ago when the Coronavirus pandemic hit, many people were struggling to adapt and adjust to the "new normal". Classes went fully virtual, and masks became mandatory in any shared space. Healthcare workers were hit especially hard, as hospitals began to fill and personal protective equipment dwindled.

Enter Costume Shop Manager Melissa Penkava Koza, who saw two problems--the Wichita community was in need of masks, and her students, without performances to prepare for, were in need of a good project. So they took on quite the project: creating masks for the public.

Penkava Koza and her students met virtually and began to sew cloth masks to be distributed around town. Rougly 450 masks were donated in Wichita--160 to Wesley Hospital, 115 to The Timbers (a disabled housing facility located near campus), and 175 to the KVC Children's Psychiatric Hospital.

Nearly year later, Sedgwick County has made vaccines for COVID-19 available to all residents over the age of sixteen. Perhaps the need for masks will slowly become a thing of the past, and live performing arts will resume in full force. But until then, the Wichita community should count itself lucky that Melissa Penkava Koza and the rest of the Costume Shop were on standby.