The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts will recognize four students during the presentation of the annual Dean’s Awards at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.
Sarah Jentsch, art major from Etoile; Tyler Thormählen, music performance major from Kyle; Arjang Abrarpour, music education major from Katy; and Margaret “Maggie” Strain, theatre major from Port Aransas, were selected by the faculty of their respective schools on the basis of their potential to further develop their artistic goals and serve as role models, according to Dr. A.C. “Buddy” Himes, dean of the College of Fine Arts.
The Dean’s Awards not only recognize the recipients for what they have already accomplished, but the awards are also designed to inspire them to reach deep from within to aspire for the ideal, Himes explained. The awards were established by the Dean’s Circle, an external support organization of community members founded in 2008 and “dedicated, in part, to nurturing potential young artists within the College of Fine Arts,” Himes said.
Jentsch, who will receive the Ed and Gwen Cole Dean’s Award in Art, came to SFA in the spring of 2016 to study printmaking and painting. She is interested in the natural sciences and fell in love with the avian world at an early age while bird watching with her father. Growing up, she could often be found with her nose buried in a bird guide. She now focuses her work on the natural world and especially avian life, which continues to fascinate her. She uses her art as a means to research and study the specimens she chooses, communicating the essence of each to her audience. Sarah also holds a position as a gallery assistant at the Cole Art Center, which has given her many opportunities to view and handle great works of art. This position has allowed her to have more personal relationships with her professors and learn valuable skills in art handling and gallery installation. Jentsch says that studying at SFA has been an incredibly enriching experience. She plans to continue on to graduate school and eventually become a professor herself, guiding students as her own mentors have done for her.
Thormählen, who will receive the Jack and Naioma Ledbetter Dean’s Award in Music, is a junior music performance major with a concentration in orchestral horn performance. He is a three-year member of the SFA Wind Ensemble, a two-year member of the Orchestra of the Pines and SFA Opera Orchestra, and serves as principle horn of each. Thormählen has participated in various chamber ensembles such as the SFA Horn Choir, the Ax’em Brass Quintet, and the Transmute Brass Quintet. He frequently performs with the Lufkin Community Band and East Texas Wind Symphony. Thormählen has been named to either the President’s List or Dean’s List each semester during his time at SFA and has received multiple merit-based scholarships. He was selected as runner-up in the 2016 TMTA Young Artist Brass Competition, and he plans to continue participating in solo and small ensemble competitions. He is also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, in which he serves the SFA band program as well as the East Texas band community. This summer, Thormählen will attend the Sewanee Summer Music Festival at The University of the South in Tennessee where he will perform in weekly concerts and learn from highly esteemed conductors and pedagogues.
Abrarpour, who will receive the Dr. Robert G. Sidnell Memorial Dean’s Award in Music Education, is a junior music education major from Katy. During his time at SFA, he has been a member of the Wind Ensemble, the Swingin’ Axes and The Lumberjack Marching Band, and he is a former member of the Orchestra of the Pines. Abrarpour is a member of the Empyrean Trumpet Ensemble, a small competitive ensemble comprised of the top players within the trumpet studio. The ensemble competed in the semi-final round of the 2017 National Trumpet Competition. He is also a part of the Boundless Quintet, a small jazz combo that performs at community events, including Nacogdoches’ 300th birthday celebration. He is a member of the School of Honors and has been on both the Dean’s and President’s lists. Abrarpour has been presented with the Academic Excellence Scholarship, a band scholarship, the Gary Wurtz Jazz Scholarship, and the Lumberjack Leverage Award. While at SFA, Abrarpour has learned not only music, but also the value of time management, leadership responsibilities, professional behavior and many other virtues. SFA has helped him grow into a more prepared leader and music educator.
Strain, who will receive the George and Peggy Schmidbauer Dean’s Award in Theatre, is a junior from Port Aransas earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts with an All-Level Teaching Certification. This is her second year at SFA. Her Mainstage credits include “By the Bog of Cats” and Jack Heifner’s new play “Bury Me in This,” and she is currently playing Sabina in Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.” Strain was also featured in the Downstage performance of “Bobby Gould in Hell.” She was runner-up for the Wanda Cochran Scholarship and has been recognized on the Dean’s List each semester at SFA. For the coming year, Strain has been elected president of the Beta Phi cast of Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society, and is on the Student Productions Advisory Committee (SPAC). Most of Strain’s experiences, however, can be attributed to volunteer work. She has volunteered for light-hang crews, taught workshops, or simply lent a hand when it was needed – from painting props to moving furniture.
The awards are made possible because the Dean’s Circle believes in investing in the future and is willing to contribute and raise the money needed to fund these awards each year, Himes said. As a result, this year, Dean’s Circle sponsors decided to increase these awards from $2,000 to $3,000 each.