In College of Fine Arts and Communications, Events

The College of Fine Arts and Communications celebrates the graduating class of 2021 with student speakers and performers through virtual convocation

Dean Ed Adams

Following BYU commencement on April 22, the College of Fine Arts and Communications held convocation on April 23. Student Andrew Fellows provided the prelude and postlude music.

Graduating music students Madeleine Chadburn, Brandon Chamberlain, Jacob Daniel Douglas and Gavin Lewis Grooms began the celebration with a special musical number, “On This Day of Joy and Gladness.” Following the number, Dean Ed Adams addressed the students and families.

“I want to congratulate you not only for your accomplishments within your academics but also for the courage, resilience and compassion for which you have responded to the turbulent circumstances and dramatic changes thrust upon you this past year,” Adams said. “We have been humbled by your ability to press on towards your goals. You have adapted, rolled with the punches and pushed through.”

Following Dean Adams’ address, Theatre and Media Arts student Alyssa Aramaki spoke on “Telling Truths.” Aramaki said, “Storytelling is about truth. When I embrace vulnerability, I learn to connect with my own truths and with others in a way I never have.”

Following Aramaki’s remarks, Olivia Morrow from the School of Communications presented on “The Light that Makes All the Difference.” Morrow told the story of her grandfather, an artist and professor who taught her the importance of seeing clearly in the creative process. “The light can transform landscapes and people,” said Morrow, quoting her grandfather. “Jesus always sees people on a foundation level — he sees our hearts, uniqueness and weaknesses but he focuses on our potential. As we strive to see ourselves as Christ sees us, we will find peace and happiness.”

Two students from the Department of Art, Fiona Barney and Gwendolyn Davis-Barrios, then presented on “Pedagogy and Poetry.” Barney discussed the importance of interacting with the everyday events of life. She said, “The everyday is important because it defines who we are in the world.” Davis-Barrios explained that “art-making is a process of just trying to be there.”

Jessica Walker. Courtesy of Brittany Neal

After the art presentation, viewers enjoyed the musical number “Spring Waters,” performed by graduating School of Music students Josie Larsen and accompanist Gregory Smith. Trumpet performance student RJ Abrarpour, was also celebrated in an article prior to convocation.

Jessica Jensen Walker from the Department of Dance then spoke on “Chrysalides and Comfort Zones” and her admiration for monarch butterflies. “Our chrysalis of college has prepared us for the next journeys of life. We now enter a new chapter of exercising our new knowledge and skills. Now is the time we learn to fly,” said Walker. “We cannot forget the beautiful changes and growth we have gone through to get where we are now.”

Amanda Lund and Rachel Everett from the Department of Design shared presentations on “Finding Your Voice in Design.”

Lund shared an experience of how she developed confidence in her work. “It’s in times of trial that I come to understand that God doesn’t just love and care for me, but he truly believes in me,” said Lund. “If God can believe in me then I should believe in myself.”

Everett shared an experience from one spring semester when she took two Book of Mormon classes at the same time in addition to a course on “self-branding.” Taking these three courses together helped her come up with her own mission statement combining her faith with her work as an artist.

“Something special about coming to BYU is being so open about your faith. I hope to be able to carry that with me and not be afraid to continue to share my faith whether directly through testimony or through the art that I create,” said Everett.

Rachel Everett

The convocation general celebration concluded with a final congratulations from Dean Adams, who invited students to reach out to family, friends or faculty they would like to thank for the support they’ve received. Following Dean Adams’ remarks, viewers watched a special musical presentation by Logan Baugh, Peyton Ford and Jordan Hope as they performed “Because I Have Been Given Much” on vibraphones and marimba. 

After the conclusion of the college’s convocation, students and their families were invited to join breakout sessions for each of the six academic departments within the college.

Department of Art

Joseph Ostraff shared, “We take your goodness for granted sometimes. You are so amazing that we get used to it being the standard. You are intelligent, mindful, hardworking people of pure intent.” The department honored each graduating student by sharing a slide of the student’s artwork with a quote from a teacher on what the teacher admires about the student. 

School of Communications

Ed Carter congratulated students. Carter said, “The word that comes to mind is resilience. As I have been working with many of you in classes and other settings, I am impressed with the resilience you’ve shown.”

The Department of Dance 

Taken from a breakout session with the Department of Dance

This breakout session featured videos of students walking with voice recorded quotes. “It’s now time for you to go forth and serve. Take your battle worn shoes with you as evidence of your newly lived experience. Cherish the lessons learned and seek for ways to lift up others,” said department chair Curt Holman

Department of Design 

The department chair Brent Barson said, “We as a department wish you and your family the best. May you all go forth in faith and confidence in God and do your very best.” The department honored the students with a slideshow of each graduating student and their photo and included a new website specific to graduating students.

School of Music

Attendees were welcomed with opening remarks by School of Music director Diane Reich. Mark Ammons, assistant director of the School of Music, then took to the stage as acting “Hogwarts Headmaster” — dressed for the part — for the reading of graduate names. “It is not our abilities that show who we truly are, it is our choices,” he said, paraphrasing Albus Dumbledore.

The Department of Theatre and Media Arts

With a unique Star Wars theme, titled “Rise of the Graduates,” the presentation included a slide show with the names and pictures of all the graduating students.

The congratulations scrolled across the screen: “Through it all though, numerous faithful, stalwart and innovative students pressed forward, said ‘YES, AND!,’ and successfully completed the requirements to graduate with a degree in theatre or media arts.”

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