Skip to main content

College of Fine Arts and Communications Honors 2024 Grads

The College of Fine Arts and Communications Convocation Ceremonies Celebrate the Graduating Class of 2024

The BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications (CFAC) celebrated the class of 2024 in college convocations on April 26. The College held three separate ceremonies for the School of Communications; the Departments of Art and Design; and the School of Music and the Departments of Dance and Theatre and Media Arts were held in the Concert Hall of the Music Building.

Dean Ed Adams opened each ceremony by congratulating the graduates for their academic achievements.

In the College of Fine Arts and Communications class of 2024, 70% of graduates were female and 30% were male with 87 first-generation graduates, 142 minority graduates and 23 international graduates. More than 740 graduates were awarded their diplomas and congratulated by the dean and leadership in their academic area leadership.

Graduates from the College of Fine Arts and Communications Class of 2024
Photo by Emma Olson/CFAC External Relations

After the presentation of graduates, Dean Adams invited graduates to applaud those who supported them through their educational journey. “We all recognize that pursuing a degree involves support and love from many—parents, relatives, spouses and friends.” He also invited the faculty to stand and be recognized by the graduates, “There is much that happens in instructing, guiding and mentoring during the educational pursuit.”

Each ceremony featured student presentations and musical numbers from graduates selected to represent their respective academic units.


Advertising graduate Parker McDermott's speech, “Courses in Joy,” was inspired by the cookbook theme chosen by the AdLab’s graduating class.

“I would like to present my message today as a four-course meal,” began McDermott.

From his warm welcome into the advertising program, which he compared to soup, to the sweet dessert that comes from continuing after graduation, McDermott guided the audience through his experiences offering them “just one small taste of the surreal experience that is the AdLab.”

As part of his senior coursework, McDermott created a commercial for Nike featuring Siva Afi, or Samoan fire-knife dancing. After sharing the ad with the audience, McDermott said, “Every single person I have worked with over the past few years has been so talented and so unique, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned something from each of them.”

Looking forward, McDermott compared life after graduation to dessert. “Being part of BYU’s advertising program has changed who I am,” said McDermott. “I feel so lucky to have been welcomed as part of this family; to have been instructed and shaped, transformed into a better creative thinker; and to have been able to produce some work that I’m honestly really proud of.”

Ellie Warner Niver, a master of music graduate with a focus in vocal performance, sang “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” written by Edward Hopper and was accompanied by Bryce Turner on the piano.

Music Master’s Graduate Ellie Warner Niver Performs in the School of Communications Convocation
Photo by Emma Olson/CFAC External Relations

Caleb Christensen focused his speech, “Floriculturists and Cement Masons,” on personal triumphs and challenges that “strengthened his roots,” relating his experiences to a poem by the late singer-songwriter Tupac Shakur titled, “The Rose That Grew from the Concrete.”

He first heard the poem in a Powerade commercial as a teen. “At that point in my life, I had no real reason to feel like a rose emerging from the concrete,” said Christensen. “I was only 14 at the time, but some part of me knew that the cement trucks of life were mixing.”

Christensen and his wife discovered that they were going to be parents at 18 years old, just before beginning their time at BYU. Despite the challenges they knew would come their way, they decided to do whatever it took to make it work.

While balancing parenthood and coursework, Christensen also played on the BYU Football team. “All of these things I’ve experienced, all of this adversity has been concrete laid upon my nice, perfect petals,” said Christensen. “The thing I never realized was that the concrete I was breaking through was still sitting on my roots, giving me a firm foundation of life experience, never letting me fail and bolstering me up to continue to grow.”

Christensen encouraged the class of 2024 to remember that life can feel like cement being poured on your perfect petals, but you can “prove nature’s laws wrong, reach the sun, learn to walk without having feet.”

Communications Major Caleb Christensen Delivers His Convocation Address
Photo by Emma Olson/CFAC External Relations


Kate Reich, a music performance graduate, opened the ceremony with “Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op.16” by Henryk Wieniawski on violin and was accompanied by Bryce Turner on the piano.

Baylee Van Patten’s address, titled “Embracing the Unexpected Adventure,” focused on how her faithful embrace of the unexpected led to new opportunities and growth. Since she was young, Van Patten’s dad always reminded her to “have an adventure.” Now she’s realized that his reminder to “have an adventure” was really a reminder to embrace all that comes her way.

After facing a series of setbacks, including not making it on several performance groups and sustaining a serious knee injury, Van Patten questioned whether she should continue to pursue dance. She said, “Rejection from what I thought I wanted led me to the opportunities I needed.” Ultimately, her thwarted plans led to unexpected artistic development and new opportunities.

Rejection and recovery from her knee surgery helped prepare Van Patten to craft her senior capstone project, “Ripe and Ruin.” She said, “The piece is a reflection of my experience with opposition. I hoped to communicate that failure and success, sorrow and joy, hurt and healing, are essential in shaping who we are.”

Her experiences showed her that God could take her further than she thought, and endowed her with the hope that “God guides our paths as our greatest adventures still await us.”

Dance Graduate Baylee Van Patten Delivers Her Convocation Address
Photo by Scott Young/CFAC External Relations

In Kennedy Shanklin’s speech, “The Book of Life,” she shared how a joyful childhood darkened when her father passed away unexpectedly during her sophomore year of high school. She felt that her story was over and that “there was no happy ending in sight.”

“After my father’s passing, I could no longer imagine writing more pages in my book,” Shanklin said. “It felt pointless. But I wasn’t the only author of my story. Someone else was. Someone more masterful and powerful than I would ever be in this mortal life: my Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Although she still experienced disappointments, she found that with Christ’s guidance she could still hope and work for success. She was accepted into BYU, found great friends and a fiancé and completed a “perfectly placed teaching assignment.”

Shanklin suggested using the fundamental acting principle outlined by Konstantin Stanislavski when exercising agency and starting new chapters of life. Stanislavski’s theory of acting involves having an “objective” or end goal and thinking through the “tactics,” or necessary steps, to achieve that goal. “We have all entered this university to learn,” she concluded. “Now it is time to go and serve.”

A Graduate Dances Across the Stage to Receive His Diploma
Photo by Scott Young/CFAC External Relations


Holland Seamons, a design major with UX design emphasis, focused her remarks on “Embracing Curiosity in a World of Unknowns.” She said she has come to realize that “anxiety and curiosity seldom share the same room.” She said, “Our society is riddled with unease and fear when contemplating the unknown. At our core, we are certainty seekers. However, I am convinced that the remedy to this distress about uncertainty lies firmly in cultivating our divine instincts to be curious.”

Art major Gabriella Warnick shared that she has learned to relish questions within her art practice in her address, “To Practice Amid Uncertainty.” She believes being an artist requires discipline of intention and a lot of faith. She has learned to “hold intention with uncertainty.”

Graduate Celebrates With Friends and Family
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

Warnick said, “For me, unknowing is learning how to notice what you don’t see and consider what you don’t know. I like the idea that being an artist is learning how to read the palm of a city rather than demand for the world to tell me what I think I should be knowing.”

Brandon Haynie, a brass music performance major, played “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” by Thomas Moor on the trumpet. He was accompanied by Luke Gunnerson on piano.

Art education major Kaleb Farar spoke on “The Continuous Present.” He discussed the benefits of viewing time as a coastline where one does not leave past moments to enter future moments but rather lives in one continuous present. He said that there is no “distinct moment when one achieves success.”

“It is the act of walking, not the distance traveled that matters,” he said. “Focusing on this present moment frees me from the pressure to succeed and allows me instead to focus on making this time happier and more fulfilling.”

Design Graduate Linda Hsuing Delivers Her Convocation Address
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

The program concluded with remarks by photo- and lens-based design major Linda Hsiung who spoke on “Our Best Work Is Yet to Come.” She described how she now cringes at her work from high school photography but hopes that she will someday have the same reaction to her college work because that will mean that she has improved. Hsuing said that the work that is yet to come will be the best work because of the continual process of discovery.

“I thought that by the end of my undergraduate education, I would have all the knowledge and understanding I needed to take on for the rest of my life. I do not and I'm okay with that,” she said. “There's always going to be more knowledge out there that I get to learn. However, the few things I do know with certainty are who I am and who I want to become.”

Congratulations to the class of 2024!

We want to celebrate you and your grads! Share your story with us here. Learn more about other CFAC grads here.

For the 2024 digital convocation program, FAQs, a message from the deanery and more, check out the CFAC convocation website.

To see more photos of graduates and the ceremonies, visit our full Facebook album.