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J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars, Class of 2021

Emily Buckley

Emily Buckley, Music

Emily Buckley is a Biomedical Engineering major with a minor in Computer Science from West Friendship, Maryland. She began playing the flute when she was 8 years old and the alto saxophone at age 11. Her father, a retired trombonist from the US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors, sparked her love for jazz. She has pursued jazz by playing alto saxophone in jazz ensembles in middle and high school, in addition to her involvement in wind ensembles on flute. With her high school jazz band, she had to opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center, Jazz a Juan, Jazz a Vienne, the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazzhaus Freiburg, and the Rochester International Jazz Festival. She is currently the flute section leader in the UVa Wind Ensemble, plays in the UVa Flute Ensemble, and studies flute with Kelly Sulick. Emily hopes to use this opportunity as a Miller Arts Scholar to explore ways to combine her love for flute, saxophone, jazz, and classical music in her studies and performance at UVa.

Jakob Cansler

Jakob Cansler, Drama

Jakob Cansler, from Newport News, Virginia, first began doing theatre when he was six years old. From then until high school, Jakob took classes with the New York State Theatre Institute. After moving to Virginia, Jakob attended the Woodside High School Magnet School for the Arts in Drama. There, he studied acting and performed in many plays and musicals, including Little Shop of Horrors, The Laramie Project, Pippin, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Jakob finally made the decision to study theatre in university when he attended the Summer Governor’s School for the Performing Arts. Now, at UVa, Jakob is a part of multiple student theatre groups and works with the drama department whenever he can. He has served as lighting designer for both First Year Players and Shakespeare on the Lawn and has performed most recently as Brutus in Shakespeare on the Lawn’s Julius Caesar. Jakob looks forward to furthering his theatrical endeavours in drama at UVa in the future and is honored to be included in the Miller Arts Scholar Program.

Adam Cooper

Adam Cooper, Music

Adam Cooper is planning to double major in a politics related field and music. He has been playing cello for the past 11 years and has thoroughly enjoyed continuing his musical endeavors at the University of Virginia. Last year, Adam worked as a volunteer cello instructor in Israel with an organization called Sulamot. He helped mentor at-risk children in the Tel Aviv-Yafo area, and found this experience rewarding and meaningful. Adam is excited to be a member of the Miller Arts Scholars community and hopes that he will find new ways to use his passion for music to create positive change in the world.

Evie Galvan

Evie Galvan, Dance

Evie Galvan began dancing at the age of nine in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. She was trained in classical ballet technique as well as tap and jazz for five years. She later went on the pursue competitive dance at Chris Collins Dance studio, joining the competition company there. At CCDS Evie built on and expanded her repertoire to include lyrical, modern, contemporary, musical theatre, and pointe work. She has trained with the American Ballet Theatre and with the Virginia Governor’s school for Dance summer programs and also been able to perform in many places, including Disney World. At UVA, Evie is involved in the Virginia Dance Company, as well as the Dance Minor and the fall and spring dance concerts. She is so grateful to receive the opportunity to continue her dance career and also be exposed to new forms of art within the University of Virginia as a Miller Arts Scholar.

Tina Hashemi, Music

When Tina Hashemi was growing up she pursued music, dance, and figure skating but it was not until her last years in high school in McLean, Virginia that she discovered her true passion. She found herself entranced by vocal music and the possibilities her voice offered. She then quickly went on to excel in classical voice training and subsequently in singing jazz professionally. She was selected as a member of her high school choir and became the principal singer for the school’s big band and jazz combo while studying vocal jazz under Danielle Wertz. At UVA, Tina continued to pursue jazz and vocal music through forming a jazz band called “No Hurry” and joining a jazz small group. She is the social chair and assistant music director for her acapella group, the Flying V’s, and the vice president of the vocal jazz ensemble she helped form. She is a member of the University Singers and studies classical voice under Brenda Patterson as well as vocal jazz under Stephanie Nakasian. Tina plans to double major in Music and Biology and pursue a masters in vocal jazz performance. She is excited to take advantage of the opportunities granted by the Miller Arts Program. 

Lindsay Irwin

Lindsay Irwin, Music

Lindsay Irwin, from Reston, Virginia, has been singing for as long as she can remember. She began choir in 4th grade, and has sung in her school choir every year since. In addition, she has participated in honors choirs such as District Choir and All-State Choir. She is currently a member of University Singers, and she is also a member of The Virginia Belles, the oldest all-female a cappella group at the University of Virginia. She was the musical director and arranger for her high school all-female a cappella group, Doremigas. She has also composed pieces for the International Baccalaureate Program at her high school, ranging from string quartets to full symphonies. In addition, she participates in the Madison House's Medical Service's program "Harmonies for Healing," where she sings to patients at the Transitional Care Hospital in the UVA Health System. She has been studying voice every year since 9th grade, and she is currently taking classical voice lessons with Pamela Beasley. She is honored to be welcomed into the Miller Arts Scholars community, and is excited to be further immersed into the arts at the University of Virginia. 

Payton Moledor

Payton Moledor, Drama

Payton Moledor developed her love for theatre in elementary school, when she first began acting at her local community theatre in Mount Airy, North Carolina. While she was homeschooled for the majority of her high school career, during her senior year Payton attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she studied Drama and honed her circus skills performing with ARCH (Artists Reaching Children in the Hospital). A classically trained singer as well as actress, Payton began playing piano at age 6 and taking vocal lessons at age 13. She has competed in various music competitions (NATs and NFMC) and currently studies classical voice with Pamela Beasley in the UVA Department of Music. In addition to her theatrical training, Payton has been dancing for thirteen years and has choreographed Oklahoma! as well as various original pieces. Payton currently resides with her family in Roanoke, Virginia where she recently performed in Mill Mountain Theatre’s production of Willy Wonka Jr. as Mrs. Bucket. Since arriving at UVA, Payton has been seen in Urinetown (Hope) and WE ARE PUSSY RIOT OR EVERYTHING IS P.R. with the UVA Department of Drama as well as Company (Amy) with Spectrum Theatre. Payton is involved with Virginia Players and is very excited about further pursuing creativity on Grounds with the Miller Arts Scholars program!

Veronica Seguin

Veronica Seguin, Drama

Veronica’s acting career began in first grade, when she was bribed with Oreos to be in a commercial about toothpaste. Go figure, she never contracted a cavity from that whole roll of Oreos, and her tooth health has been impeccable ever since. As a military kid, she continued to pursue school and community theatre opportunities in every one of the 9 places she’s lived. After moving from Boston to Yorktown, Virginia after her sophomore year of high school, Veronica faced the great unknown in conquering her last two years of high school theatre and college auditions. Not to mention, she had just filmed and won 2 episodes as a contestant on the Food Network show “Chopped.” In true Veronica fashion, she made herself right at home, enrolling in the York County School of the Arts (SOA) to concentrate in Theatre and Dance. SOA afforded her the opportunities to pursue student film and ultimately the International Thespian Society. With the help from her acting and voice coach, Mark Bzdick, she qualified for the International Thespian Festival in her individual monologue performance and went on to receive a Superior score from all three adjudicators. Soon thereafter, Veronica joined the ranks of fellow college auditionees in the Virginia Theatre Association and Unifieds college search. Her search led her to pursue drama at UVA, where she now plans to double major in Drama and Marketing, pursuing a career in film acting and/or directing. She knows her major combination is odd, but preaches that marketing will help her learn the business side of showbiz, in which she can practice marketing herself and others in the constantly evolving world of the performing arts. 


J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars, Class of 2020

Victoria Alvarez

Victoria Alvarez, Studio Art

Though she’s always prided herself on a strong creative streak, Victoria Alvarez never truly considered herself an artist until she came to UVA. Hailing from Peachtree City, GA, Victoria first got in touch with her creative side in high school. There she fell in love with ceramics and was inspired by her mentor to listen to her creative calling. Her time at the University, particular in the Creative Processes and Practices Forum, has led her to develop a passion for drawing creativity out of people. Recently inspired by public participatory art and art healing, Victoria hopes to show the world that creativity and art are not just reserved for “artists.” Victoria is currently pursuing a degree in Youth and Social Innovation with a Studio Art Minor. She hopes to eventually go into art therapy with youth.

Kristen Barrett

Kristen Barrett, Drama

As a performing artist and playwright, Kristen Barrett hopes to focus her interests and create entertaining and enlightening art through the Miller Arts Scholars program. Kristen's desire to entertain stems from her lifelong affinity for musical theatre. Ever since her parents exposed her to Sesame Street and School House Rock reruns as a child, she has loved singing, especially in front of a crowd. At the University, she pursues her passion for musical theatre through singing alto for Hoos in the Stairwell, the only Broadway a cappella group on Grounds. While she enjoys entertaining through musical theatre, Kristen uses playwriting to explore obscure topics and underrepresented life experiences in order to enlighten audiences. For her creative writing, she draws inspiration from a variety of areas including African-American studies, Greco-Roman traditions, the Shakespeare canon, and even biological sciences. In Fall 2016, she directed a staged reading of her unpublished play To Do No Harm. Her play tells the story of a teenage girl, Destiny, who experiences anesthesia awareness. Even though To Do No Harm is a fictional work, the medical jargon and described procedures reflect reality due to Kristen’s research. Additionally, Kristen is passionate about depicting the black experience through theatre. In November 2016, she acted in the second annual Black Monologues, and next school year, she will produce the third annual production. Kristen plans to double major in both Drama and English.

Elissa Bardhi

Elissa Bardhi, Studio Art

Elissa Bardhi and was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on Long Island. Throughout her entire life she was addicted to drawing. Her art covered the walls of her family’s Brooklyn apartment. When she started high school she was introduced to one of the most influential teachers of her life. It was due to Mr. Ryan that she was able to reach her full potential and capabilities as an artist. Once she was introduced to oil painting, she never looked back; he taught her everything she knows. As a junior in high school, her painting, udhetim, was accepted to the Long Island’s Best Young Artists exhibition, at the Heckscher Museum of Art. Since then, she has always been interested in the composition of faces and facial expressions; her art was specifically concentrated on the depiction of her family members. It was not until UVA that she strayed from her realism roots and was introduced to abstract art. Here, she has also been exposed to digital media art and has broadened her traditional perspective of art in countless ways. Additionally, she is training to be a Student Docent at the Fralin Museum of Art at UVa. As a Miller Arts Scholar, she hopes to continue to explore all the different forms of art while still hoping to return to her passion of oil portraits one day.

Kate Bollinger

Kate Bollinger, Creative Writing

Kate Bollinger, originally from Charlottesville, grew up surrounded by music and art. At an early age she began singing in the car with her dad and on her mother’s children’s music albums and was influenced by her two older brothers, who were constantly playing music in the basement. She began writing songs when she was eight and ever since, songwriting has been her biggest love. When Kate was fourteen, she began releasing original songs on Soundcloud. When she was fifteen, she played her first show, opening for Philadelphia-based band, The Extraordinaires, as well as local band, We Are Star Children, at The Southern Cafe & Music Hall. Since then, she has played many shows at venues such as Magnolia House, Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, The Ante Room and Fine China in Richmond, Virginia. In 2015 she was awarded the Aslan Mosel award for songwriting, and was runner-up in the Tom Tom Founders Festival Songwriter Competition. In 2017, she released her first official EP, “Key West,” with the help of The Extraordinaires as her backing band. Additionally, she released a music video for her song “Ardent.” In high school, Kate began writing poetry on occasion. In 2015, her poem, “gorillas and curb stomping” was featured in the Macrock booklet. It was during her first year at UVa, however, that poetry writing became her second love. She is currently taking poetry writing with Rita Dove and hopes to double major in Media Studies and the Area Program for Poetry Writing.

Elliot Carter

Elliot Carter, Creative Writing

Elliott Carter is a second-year artist and arts organizer from Alexandria, VA creating poetic works to occupy landscapes of solace. He found poetry in an after-school poetry club and then in Washington, D.C. with the community-based arts organization Split this Rock. He is a graduate of the D.C. Youth Writing Guild’s inaugural class and has competed in Louder Than A Bomb, the Hyperbole, and the Northern Virginia Invitational Slam. At UVa, he became involved with Flux Poetry and Spoken Word, serving various positions in the hopes of helping the reach and impact of Flux’s community arts thrive and grow. A two-time member of the University of Virginia CUPSI team; an aficionado of sunflower seeds; and a college drop-out, he believes communities that form around art and poetry are necessary to find the courage to say the things we need to say.

Bryce Cuthriell

Bryce Cuthriell, Dance

Bryce is from Tidewater, Virginia, and trained at Virginia Regional Ballet in Williamsburg for nearly all of his dance education prior to university. He first fell in love with dance through classical music, particularly through ballets written by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev such as Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet. This was his introduction to dance in general and, as a result, his early dance training was almost exclusively in ballet. Since he has been at UVa, however, he has spent a lot of time branching out into other dance forms, largely in various styles of modern dance technique, and contemporary ballet. He continues to train in classical ballet with Charlottesville Ballet in addition to dancing at the university. Bryce is very excited to be a part of the Miller Arts Scholars program and to see what new directions it takes his education in dance.

Carolyn Diamond

Carolyn Diamond, Dance

Carolyn Diamond began dancing when she was 8 years old and immediately fell in love with it. She trained at the Pulse Performing Arts Studio in Bedford Hills, NY in ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, and tap. Additionally, she was on the competition team that competed in regional and national competitions along the East Coast and was a part of a performance company that participated in many local benefits. She also participated in Summer Intensives at Broadway Dance Center with Sheila Barker, with the American Academy of Ballet, and with American Dance Training Camps, and she has performed at various venues, ranging from local nursing homes to DisneyWorld and Universal Studios. Carolyn is honored to be accepted to the Miller Arts Scholars Program and is excited to continue her dance education and collaborate with new artists.

Savannah Edwards

Savannah Edwards, Drama

Savannah Maive Edwards is a child of the mountains, having been raised in both the Adirondacks and the Blue Ridge. Consequently, she has always had a natural inclination to tell stories. For most of her childhood, Savannah indulged her innate passion for storytelling through writing short stories, plays, and screenplays, which she would coerce her friends to read and costar in (all of which are now hidden deep within the abyss of time). It wasn’t until her family pulled up the stakes and moved to Nelson County, Virginia, that Savannah finally found her way onto the stage and has since refused to get off. After enjoying years of ensemble roles in the high school spring musical, Savannah landed her first ever speaking role (in a production that she didn’t also write and direct) in her senior one-act play as Frosine in The Miser: A French Melodrama (an adaptation of Molière’s classic play) by Peter Coy. Because of the personal and artistic development that she experienced throughout this production, Savannah discerned that theatre was something that she was going to pursue professionally, beginning with her studies at UVA. Soon after entering UVA, Savannah found her home in the drama department: immediately enrolling in drama classes and auditioning for shows. So far, Savannah has performed with the UVA Department of Drama as Bart in Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, and in the New Works Festival as Diane in The Lookout. Furthermore, Savannah has already declared a Drama Major, and is thrilled to now have the opportunity to continue cultivating her artistry as a Miller Arts Scholar.

Zoe Gray

Zoe Gray, Music

Born in New York and raised in Tampa, Zoë Gray has been immersed in the arts her entire life.  After taking private violin lessons based on the Suzuki method beginning at age 5, and then dedicating herself to years of ballet and contemporary dance training at age 6, Zoë realized that her highest love was not actually violin or dance, but singing.  Her constant exploration with musical theatre, including the lead role of Marian in The Music Man (Masque Community Theatre, Tampa), led her to realize the true power of the voice.  She began studying classical voice and musical theatre under Nancy Garma her first year of International Baccalaureate high school, and currently studies with Pamela Beasley at UVa.  Zoë is a member of the University Singers and continues to explore the role of music academically as a TA for Professor Noel Lobley.  She has received Honors in Classical and Musical Theatre for her participation in the NATS Voice Competition in 2017 and 2018 as well as 4th place in the St. Petersburg Opera Guild Vocal Competition in both 2015 and 2016.  Perhaps most notably, Zoë sung the National Anthem for the Yankees in 2015 and 2016, and continues to participate in open mic nights and solo appearances.  As a Media Studies and Music (Performance Concentration) double major, Zoë seeks to combine her intellectual and creative interests in the marketing field.  She is thrilled to join the Miller Arts Scholars family and is excited to see where it will take her.

Jessica Harris

Jessica Harris, Drama

Jessica Harris has been involved in the arts for as long as she can remember. Hailing from Fluvanna, VA, Jessica has always included acting, dance, piano, violin, and voice lessons in her studies. From her first dance recital at the tender age of 3, Jessica found a second home on the stage as she soon became involved in community theater and dance ensembles. Locally, she has performed at Four County Players, Live Arts, and trained with the West End Academy of Dance and the Charlottesville Ballet Academy. As an actress, Jessica was recognized for "Excellent Individual Performance by a Female" at the 2015 Junior Theater Festival, and she received 3 nominations for Missoula Children’s Theater’s Residency programs honoring outstanding performances and dedication to theater. Jessica’s artistic focus in recent years has revolved around directing and teaching, and she is the founder and artistic director of Empowered Players, a Fluvanna-based youth theater organization dedicated to improving the lives of students through increased access to theater. She recently directed Dancing with Myself at Four County Players, and is currently assistant directing Jitney at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Jessica offers individual and group dance and theater classes at various community locations, and seeks to inspire all students to find their voice and make the world a better place. At the University of Virginia, Jessica provided music direction for the Virginia Players Lab Series Festival and hopes to continue to be involved in student productions. Jessica is also an Echols Scholar and is on the Executive Board for Kids Acting Out, a student-run volunteer theater group. She is tremendously grateful to be a Miller Arts Scholar and is so excited to be involved.

Madison Karten

Madison Karten, Music

Madison Karten, from Richmond, Virginia, has been studying voice for two years now, but grew up singing in various choirs since she was seven. In high school, Madison found her love for performance through musical theatre. She began studying and pursuing classical voice her senior year after being exposed to operatic arias and scenes at the Summer Governor’s School for Performing Arts. There, Madison was able to be immersed in the arts, different from what she was used to at her school’s International Baccalaureate Program, and there she realized the powerful impact being involved in a dedicated artistic community can have. She currently takes classical voice lessons with Pamela Beasley and is a member of the University Singers. Madison is also a member of the University Programs Council, First Year Players, and an incoming vocal director for Spectrum Theatre. This past summer Madison had the privilege of being an intern for the Music Department as the Promotions and Marketing Assistant. She is honored to be accepted in the Miller Arts Scholars Program and is excited to be further involved in the artistic community at UVa.

Catherine Kolo

Catherine Kolo, Music

Hailing from Alexandria, VA, Katie cannot remember a time when music wasn't a part of her life. From early on, she gained a love of classical music from her musician parents and began training in various instruments (such as piano, violin, and voice) before settling primarily on French horn. Years later, Katie has played in multiple prestigious ensembles, attended numerous influential music camps and clinics, and performed major works as a featured soloist in the both the orchestral and wind band setting. After countless friendships and mentorships, she has also developed a deeper love of people in the arts and is excited to be a Miller Arts Scholar in order to further immerse herself in this community. Alongside music, Katie also enjoys theater and baroque art. At UVa, she plays with the Wind Ensemble, the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, in chamber groups, and studies under Katy Ambrose. Katie is also a section leader in the Cavalier Marching Band and the Communications Chair for the Arts Grounds Guides. She hopes to major in Music and Global Studies (in Security and Justice).

Elizabeth Ozer

Elizabeth Ozer, Dance

Whatley Ozer has grown up in dance. Her mother was a professional ballet dancer and shared her love of classical ballet with her daughter. When Whatley’s family moved to a small town in Virginia, she joined a dance studio in a neighboring town. At the annual recital, Whatley’s mother, aghast at seeing no classical ballet technique pulled her 3-year-old daughter from classes. Three months later, Whatley’s mom opened a ballet studio in our hometown of Galax to promote the art of ballet in an area better known for clogging and old time music. It was there, at the Conservatory of Dance and Theatre, that Whatley’s love for ballet b

Ava Reynolds

Ava Reynolds, Studio Art

Ava Reynolds, from Harrisonburg, VA, has answered “artist” to the frequented childhood question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Throughout middle and high school, there was rarely a time when Ava wasn’t enrolled in some form of art class, and in the summers, she would devote much time to painting and crafting various things. Now, those childhood dreams are manifesting as Ava pursues a Studio Art major, with a concentration in Printmaking. At UVa, she is an Arts Grounds Guide, and will be attending the Mountain Lake Biological Station ArtLab, Summer 2018. As a double major with Studio Art and Global Studies: Environments and Sustainability, Ava hopes to continue to let her dual passion for environmental justice advocacy shine through her creative passions, and is excited to allow the Miller Arts Scholars program to hopefully be an outlet for these goals. Although unsure if she sees herself pursuing more art degrees or a career as an artist, Ava knows she will never stop creating.

Hiedi Waldenmaier

Hiedi Waldenmaier, Dance

Heidi Waldenmaier started dancing when she was only 5 years old at her local ballet school in Onancock, Virginia. The ESO Arts Center was her home for the next 13 years where she studied classical ballet and performed twice a year. During the summer, she would go to ballet intensives at various schools, including The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, The Rock School, and Richmond Ballet. In high school, she volunteered as the choreographer for the Nandua Middle School Theater Company for 4 productions. In 2014, she joined draMAStic danceworks, a contemporary dance company, as an intern and performed alongside professionals in Footwork & Footlights and The Remarkable Voyages O’Molly Reed. She was in Broken Toys, a collaborative dance film with Rawhide Theater Company and draMAStic danceworks. At UVA, she performed in the Fall Dance Concert during her first semester and joined the University Dance Club for her second semester. She worked at The Lost Colony, an outdoor drama in Manteo, North Carolina, as a dancer during the summer of 2017. Although dance is her first love, Heidi is involved in the arts in other ways as well. She interned as the assistant stage manager and scenic at The North Street

Meghan Walther

Meghan Walther, Dance

Meghan Walther, from Waterford, VA, began dancing as soon as she could walk: first, twirling around her room and then at the Loudoun School of Ballet in Leesburg, VA as a pre-ballet student. Since her early dancing days, Meghan has loved all facets of classic ballet, from the pink tutus and tiaras to the physical movement and the discipline of the art. Meghan has been classically trained in ballet for 16 years, jazz for 8, and modern for 4. She has trained with Ballet West, Sarasota Ballet, and Richmond Ballet over the summers and competed at Youth American Grand Prix, New York City Dance Alliance, and West Coast Dance Explosion. Meghan has performed in full length performances for the Loudoun Ballet Company as Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Myrtha in “Giselle,” Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty,” Kitri in “Don Quixote,” and Odette in “Swan Lake.” Although ballet has always been Meghan’s number one passion, she is excited and honored to be able to explore various forms of dance and arts through the Miller Arts Program and Dance Minor at the University of Virginia.

Anna Warner

Anna Warner, Studio Art

Anna Warner came to UVA from Nashville, TN (before Nashville, she lived in South Carolina, Florida, and two separate times in Charlottesville, VA.) As you can see, she keeps ending up in Charlottesville. She’s quite alright with that phenomenon because being here now as a college student, she is connected with a beautiful community of artists and has discovered a deep-rooted passion for film photography. During her eight years of middle school and high school in Nashville, Anna danced, sang in chamber choir, tried her hand in a couple school musicals, and made a lot of drawings. She received her high school’s Fine Arts Award, which is given to one graduating senior, at a time when she still thought she wanted to be a doctor. That plan changed when art classes at UVA revolutionized her world, and film photography stole her heart. Anna loves film photography because of its inherently intimate process, and how that has remained stoic in a world overrun with images everywhere 24/7. She is also fascinated with philosophy and theory behind photography. Now, Anna is majoring in Studio Art, aspiring to make bodies of fine art photographs that will one day appear in books and galleries. Her creativity is also expressed through embroidery, and she is interested in exploring the potential of different art forms merging – so she is very excited about being a part of the Miller Arts Scholar program and becoming more integrated with an interdepartmental art community at UVA. 

Kia Wassenaar

Kia Wassenaar, Studio Art

Kia Wassenaar is a writer and artist from Charlottesville, Virginia. Growing up, her love of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realist literature kept her rooted in the creative world, and sparked an early interest in writing, which she continued to pursue throughout her youth. She studied songwriting at the Young Writer’s Workshop for three summers in high school, and returned in the summer of 2017 to teach. Influenced by a desire to tell stories, much of her creative life has centered around the merging of art and writing. While she is interested in a wide range of mediums, especially drawing, she has found that the energetic nature of filmmaking provides the best space for her interests to converge. At UVA, Kia is studying English and Studio Art with a concentration in cinematography. She is eager to explore more within the world of digital art and music production, and hopes to incorporate a variety of new media into her work.

Isabella Whitfield

Isabella Whitfield, Studio Art

Isabella Whitfield, an artist from Centreville Virginia, is interested in exploring the themes of social connection and contemporary society. In February 2018, she was commissioned as a portrait artist by the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative for the exhibition, Face to Face: Portraits of Our Vibrant City. This innovative project, aimed at uniting diverse communities, teamed up ten portrait artists with Charlottesville community members. Isabella is also involved with a number of graphic design positions at UVA. Currently, she is part of the design team for UVA’s Media Studies research journal, Movable Type. Additionally, she enjoys creating promotional visual content for University Programs Council as a part of the Marketing Committee. Through a grant from the Student Arts Fund, she is currently working on a painting series that explores the contemporary family portrait. Isabella is excited to continue artistic collaboration through the Miller Arts Scholars Program.

Emily Williams

Emily Williams, Music

Emily Williams is a music and statistics double major from Farmington, Connecticut.  Though she didn’t start playing violin until the second grade, she has always been drawn to the arts, especially music.  She has studied classical violin privately since fourth grade and was in the youth program at the Hartt School of Music then studied with HSO principal Jarek Lis.  In high school, Emily was All-State for choir and orchestra her junior and senior years and All-National for Choir her senior year. She has played for regional orchestras including the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Cathedral Youth Orchestra.  She currently takes violin lessons with David Sariti and is in the University Singers, Chamber Singers and has played in Chamber Ensembles. On grounds, Emily is a Vocal Director for the First Year Players’ production of “Anything Goes,” is in Virginia Dance Company, is the committee chair for Student Council’s Student Arts Committee, is a student member for the UVA Arts Council, and has played in a few pit orchestras for student theatre productions.  She has had the opportunity to teach some beginner violinists including assisting at the Farmington Suzuki Strings Academy for three summers and wants to continue this hopefully through her own studio in the future. Emily has enjoyed getting to explore different musical interests including conducting, arranging, and general songwriting during her time at UVA and can’t wait to see what other exciting opportunities await. She is incredibly thrilled and thankful to get the chance to work with all of the amazing artists in the Miller Arts Scholars program!


J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars, Class of 2019

Anna Alpern

Anna Alpern, Studio Art

Anna is quite grateful to be a part of the Miller Arts Program. She considers art to be by far the most challenging and rewarding part of her life. To her, there is nothing more difficult than coming up with an idea for how to create something out of nothing, or dealing with a piece of art-in-progress when the parts simply will not fit together. Luckily, Anna believes that there is nothing more satisfying than stepping back and  contemplating a finished work. The pride that comes from having created something with nothing more than her own hands and concepts makes all the late nights and anxiety worthwhile. Being a Miller Arts Scholar allows Anna to interact with students and faculty who help push and inspire her to think about the art she loves in a different and more engaging way. Undoubtedly, this contributes to making her a better artist and, with any luck, propels her past the ‘not bad’ realm of bovines and ice cream cones. This enhanced skill will also be extremely useful in her chosen career path, art conservation.

Maeve Bradley

Maeve Bradley, Studio Art

Maeve Bradley, from Alexandria, Virginia, has always enjoyed her proximity to DC, taking advantage of the free access to a wide variety of public art at the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Museum. She’s had great relationships with art teachers in the public schools from after-school art programs in Elementary School to the art department at T.C. Williams H.S. In high school, she participated in the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Mentorship program where she worked with a painter for her junior year, and helped install a show of a few of her pieces for the National Art Honor Society with her classmates at the Del Ray Artisans gallery. Always partial to pen and ink drawings and ceramics, at UVA she’s pursuing an interest in photography and digital media. Maeve is a double major in Studio Art and American Studies with a concentration in Popular and Visual Culture, interested in a variety of media types from music and visual albums to film and photography. She’s excited to expand her involvement in the arts community and to have the opportunity to work on collaborative mixed media projects.

Douglas Braye

Douglas Braye, Drama

Born in Williamsburg, Virginia but raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, DJ Braye has always been interested in the concept of artistic expression. Initially, DJ began his curiosity for art with drawing. In hope of keeping him quite during church, his Mom gave him a composition notebook and a pencil. From there, he couldn’t stop his creative drive. Throughout his academic career at Jefferson Forest High School, he continued to study visual arts; however, it wasn’t until his senior year when he joined his first theatrical production in the high school’s drama department, Cavalier Theatre. Casted as Linville in the musical Damn Yankees, where he won “Best Featured Actor in a Musical,” DJ fell in love with theatrical performance. Afterwards, DJ has continued studying acting and performance at the University of Virginia’s Drama Department. At U.Va, DJ has grown as a performer in the Drama Department, appearing in main stage productions such as Our Town as an ensemble member and Arctic Circle: A Recipe for Swedish Pancakes as Noah, Will, and Casey, along with the orientation play, Grounds for Discussion, in 2016. DJ has also been heavily involved in the University of Virginia’s Filmmaker’s Society, where he has performed in a variety of short films, such as Monotone as Caden (2016), Real(ity) Love as Cam the Cameraman (2016), and Life After Death as Gigi (2016). While at the University of Virginia, DJ has found his passion for both theatrical and film performance, along with his love for filmmaking. As a Media Studies Major, DJ intendeds to utilize his creative skills and artistic expression to create unique forms of art which involves the audience in new ways. He’s very excited to work and grow as a professional artist with other Miller Arts Scholars and is extremely thankful to have this opportunity to explore the various form of artistic creativity.

Claire Burke

Claire Burke, Studio Art

Claire Burke, from Warrenton, VA, grew up camping and hiking. From an early age, she has traveled across the country visiting national parks and monuments. She became obsessed with animals, rocks, plants, and anything that could be considered remotely wild.  Her childhood adoration of the outside manifested itself in her artwork. As an Environmental Science and Studio Art double major, she is interested in the intersection between science versus art and technology versus nature. Having been part of the first generation to grow up with computers, she feels that technology is integral to her self-perception.  In contrast, her love of the outdoors pulls her away from the high-tech fibers of society to an older, simpler time and place. Her career goal is to go into scientific illustration or exhibit design.

Kaiming Cheng

Kaiming Cheng, Music

Kaiming Cheng is a Music and Computer Science major from Shanghai, China. At a very young age, he began to play drum and was actively involved in different music groups and bands in both China and America. After also developing a keen interest in technology, Kaiming tried to combine his two best interests- music and computer science. At the age of 16, Kaiming worked with musicians and engineers from Shanghai and developed a gaming software system for music education. Specifically, it is a game to teach children drumming and it is a much more fun and engaging experience compared to traditional music education. He received a patent for this development in 2014 (registration number 2014SR054613). Here at UVA, Kaiming hopes to learn more about music technology. Currently, he is taking upper-level courses with professor Luke Dahl and Matthew Burtner. He appreciates and looks forward to the opportunities that Miller Art Scholars will bring. He expects to graduate in 2019 with a Bachelor's Degree in both music and Computer Science.

Alice Clair

Alice Clair, Music

Alice Clair has been playing music since she was 8 years old. Under her mentor, Joe Madison of Blue Star Music, she began to write songs on the guitar and perform them at the age of twelve. She worked as an apprentice at Blue Star and learned how to fix and play multiple instruments, including guitars, mandolins, banjos, and even accordions. Since then, she has gone on to perform across Nelson, Albemarle, and Augusta County in several musical groups and in countless venues. Her interests and influences span bluegrass and folk country music to classic rock and funk. Currently you can find Alice performing with the rock band The Blenders as vocalist and guitarist at venues spanning Fellini's #9 to the Southern and the Camel in Richmond. She is also a DJ on WXTJ and a volunteer sound engineer on WTJU. Alice is a double major in biology and music, and is pleased to have Richard Will both as her bluegrass professor and major advisor.

Jack Gereski

Jack Gereski, Drama

Throughout his life, Jack has always been drawn to the stage. After a formative arts education at a Colorado Springs, Colorado middle school, (where Jack debuted his acting career playing JoJo in a local community theater production, Seussical), Jack and his family moved back to the Washington Metropolitan Area, where he attended South County High School in Lorton, VA. At South County, Jack performed in a number of lead and supporting roles like Action in West Side Story, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Franz Liebkind in The Producers, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. While participating in the D.C. area “Cappies” Awards program, Jack was recognized in 2014 as “Best Comedic Actor in a Musical” for his portrayal of Franz Liebkind, and in 2015 was awarded “Best Male Vocalist” for Jean Valjean. Jack has had the privilege of performing twice at the renowned John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the “Jets” ensemble for “Gee Officer Krupke,”(2014), and with his solo performance of“Bring Him Home (2015). Upon arrival at the University of Virginia, Jack has continued to be heavily involved in the arts scene, performing with First Year Players (Charley Kringas in Merrily We Roll Along and Herr Schultz in Cabaret), Spectrum Theatre (Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice), as well as the all-male a cappella group, The Virginia Gentlemen. Jack is looking forward to increasing his involvement in drama at the University, and is grateful to the Miller Arts Scholars Program for helping him to further his love of art and performance.

Rachel Good

Rachel Good, Dance

Rachel Good began dancing, performing in recitals and tip toeing around the house, at the age of three. Through her interest in dance, she soon became very interested in theatre and film acting and began to take classes through ACT in New York. She moved to Chicago at the age of 7 and trained with Ballet Chicago and Trinity Irish Dance Company where she had many opportunities to perform in parades and shows all around the city. After moving back to New Jersey at the age of 10, Rachel joined Dream Xtreme Dance Company and began competing in ballet, jazz, musical theater, tap, modern, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. Since joining Perfect Pointe Performing Arts Studio's Company under the direction of Jessica Barlow and Rebecca McCormac, she traveled a variety of places competing in regional and national dance competitions like NUVO, JUMP, and NYCDA. One of Rachel's favorite memories from her dance education was always attending New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in New York City every year. Living an hour outside New York City, Rachel takes advantage of the opportunities the city provides, regularly taking classes at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and Peridance Capezio. Rachel's choice of college was dependent upon the availability of both a great engineering program and a challenging dance program. Since being at UVA she has been heavily involved in dance on grounds, performing in the Fall and Spring concerts, joining Virginia Dance Company, attending ACDA, and beginning to take classes for her Dance Minor, while still remaining dedicated to her engineering coursework. She is extremely excited and honored to be accepted into this amazing program. She is particularly anxious to rekindle her love and involvement in other arts like drama that have been overshadowed by a busy schedule in high school, while continuing to expand her education in dance.

Krista Hartmann

Krista Hartmann, Studio Art

Krista Hartmann has always considered herself an artist, and was invited to join her hometown’s gifted art program at an early age.  Growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, Krista participated in many shows received several local art awards.  She first focused on realistic pencil drawings that merely exhibited her talent.  As her perfectionist mind produced these intricate renderings, however, she realized she was failing to expand her skills and limiting her expression.  She began to explore new mediums, including oil pastels and charcoal, which forced her away from her realistic past.  Her passion for art intensified as her style morphed from dull still lifes to fervent, impressionistic portraits.  At UVA, Krista has progressed from expressionism to pure abstraction and is currently interested in the combination of abstract watercolor with the delicate lines and marks created by ink pens.  Krista’s skills as an artist—specifically her self-determination, critical thinking, and creativity—assist her in her scientific research pursuits.  She hopes to double major in Studio Art and Biology and eventually explore the therapeutic qualities of art in medicine.

Corinne James

Corrinne James, Studio Art

Corrinne James grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, spending most of her time downtown in DC attending shows at The 9:30 Club, The Black Cat and U-Street music hall. Highly influenced by musicians such as the Pixies, her first design jobs focused around the DIY music scene in Alexandria and Washington DC. When she was 16, Corrinne illustrated a children's book called The Magic of Butterflies by Ruth Heinsburg, and when 17, worked one on one with painter, Marcia Dullum at The Torpedo Factory, which resulted in an end of year exhibit of the work that was created. During her senior year she was awarded a Gold Key and a Silver Key for design by the Scholastics Art and Writing competition. She now has work published in Rookie Magazine, Golden Boy Press, and Whurk Magazine. She illustrates for bands such as The Obsessives, and The Duskwhales and would like to continue working within the music industry. At UVA, she illustrates for the student radio station, WXTJ, and creates animations and videos.

Marcha Kiatrungrit

Marcha Kiatrungrit, Music

Marcha Kiatrungrit is using her majors in Music and Engineering Science to pursue studies in vocal performance and music technology. She hopes to use math and computer science to delve deeper into the world of sound synthesis and engineering. Marcha has been dancing and singing around the house before she could walk or talk. Her performing career outside of the house began at age five, when she started her figure skating career, in which she reached the national level in high school. Growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Marcha trained in ballet, jazz, and ballroom lessons for skating. She also found her passion for singing in school productions and choirs. At UVA, Marcha studies voice under Pamela Beasley and is a part of the UVA figure skating team and X-tasee hip-hop dance crew. With the help of the UVA Music Department, she found her truest form of expression was through voice and hopes to touch people with her performance. She is a part of the Suor Angelica cast in the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival for the 2017 summer season. Marcha is eager to further her experience in performance and to pursue research that challenges what connections can be made between music and technology, with thanks to the Millers Arts Scholars Program. 

Chuanyuan Liu

Chuanyuan Liu, Music

Chuanyuan Liu is a Music/Statistics double major, with concentrations in vocal performance and econometrics, respectively. Although he never had the chance to study music formally in his hometown of Changchun, China, music has always been his passion – he was in the student choir in his elementary school, won multiple awards in provincial and national singing competitions, and was the lead singer and co-founder of his band group in high school. After he took his first music class at UVA, he discovered his interest in classical music and became determined to pursue music both as his major and career. He is currently taking voice lessons with Mr. Jordan Davidson and is a member of both the University Singers and Chamber Singers. Chuanyuan is extremely honored to have been selected as a Miller Arts Scholar and is excited to collaborate and connect with other student artists.

Daniel McCarter

Daniel McCarter, Drama

Drew McCarter was born in Nelson County Virginia to a loving and supporting father and mother.  He also has two extremely supportive siblings.  Drew first began performing when he was in his seventh grade talent show, he sang “Waiting On The World to Change” by John Mayer.  After that experience he knew he had to keep performing, so he did.  His first show in High School was Anything Goes where he played a tap-dancing, singing sailor.  The next year he was cast as the lead role of Curly in Oklahoma.  From then on he has been pursuing a career in acting.  He was the lead in his High School’s productions of Grease, Tartuffe, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  He won an Outstanding Actor in the State award for his portrayal of Tartuffe, and his high school won the State Championship for the production.  Since attending UVA he has had roles in two UVA Drama Department shows, two FYP shows, and has had multiple roles in VA Players LabShorts student film series. He is an avid watcher of films and is majoring in Media studies with a concentration in Film.  Drew plans to be a screenwriter, director, and an actor.  He believes The Miller Arts Scholars is the best place to cultivate his artistic interests and endeavors.  Drew is looking forward to working hard and loving his work.

Lauren Meinhart

Lauren Meinhart, Studio Art

Lauren has always been interested in the arts, whether it is singing, acting, or creating visual art.  Throughout all her school years, art has always been her favorite subject and one she excelled in.  However, it took until her first year at UVA, during which she would stay up all night to make sure a drawing or painting was just right, to realize that she could not just pursue art as a side passion, but rather, would pursue a profession that is tied to the arts.  Consequently, she is majoring in both Visual Art and Computer Science and is excited to integrate these two creation-oriented disciplines.  Lauren enjoys exploring varying topics and styles in her work, from the human form to abstract cubism.  Overall, her work is underpinned by an attention to detail and cleanliness, while still creating works that are full of energy and movement.  Lauren is also in the Harmonious Hoos a cappella group and loves being surrounded by the vibrant arts community at UVA.

Michelle Miles

Michelle Miles, Studio Art

Michelle Miles, a Charlottesville native, has sought to make meaning of the world through artistic discipline since youth. Her interest in the visual arts has evolved over time, from painting and sketching as a child, to photography, film, and creative writing. Currently, Miles studies cinematography under Professor of Art and filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson. Miles met a connection of Everson's at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015, which she attended for the short film she co-directed, "Beatrix." The film won best short documentary, and was described by judges as a "beautifully shot portrait [that] explores individuality and the joy in finding oneself." That could serve as a way of describing Miles as well. She's finding herself at the University by participating in extracurriculars focused on the arts, and collaborating with other student artists to continuing creating and learning about art.

Anna Morgan

Anna Morgan, Studio Art

Anna Morgan, from Richmond, Virginia, grew up surrounded by arts in a family of painters, writers, dancers, and musicians. She took art classes throughout her K-12 education and participated in various workshops. For her high school senior project, Anna worked with her art teacher, Pam Sutherland, and helped her install her work in galleries outside of DC and in Richmond. Pam has been an incredible influence on Anna’s work and progression as an artist; however, her most important influence has been her mom, an incredibly talented painter and human. Anna interned with Amie Oliver at The Art Lab, and she received the Cindy Neuschwander Scholarship Fund and a Gold Key for painting in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is incredibly interested in details and deeply values the process of art-making. Though officially an Arts Scholar for Studio Art, Anna is enthralled by words and writes whenever she can, and she is an active member of First Year Players, where she was on props and paint teams, a member of run crew, and Assistant Head of Paint. She participated in theater all four years of high school, sang in her high school’s Glee Club, and danced on and off since she was little. Anna loves exploring movement, whether on stage as a dancer or actor, or behind an easel exploring the ways she can manipulate a pen, paintbrush, pencil, or oil stick. She cannot wait to further explore her passion for interdisciplinary arts. Ultimately, she simply wants to, and needs to, be surrounded by the arts and the diversity of people and creative expression they bring. She is so honored and excited to be a part of the Miller Arts Scholars program.

Alexandra Murphy

Alexandra Murphy, Dance

All starting with daily performances put on for her parents in the comfort of her living room, Alex Murphy has been dancing since she was three years old. She started her training at the Center for Ballet Arts from age 4-16 where she studied ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and modern. During this time she was able to perform on the Wolftrap's stage for the International Children's Festival. At 15, she trained for 5 weeks at the Boston Ballet Summer Intensive, where she got to take classes from company members as well as explore the city. The next summer, she went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for five weeks, where she was trained in ballet, modern, and dance improve/composition. That fall, she started training at Metropolitan School of the Arts, where she expanded her studies past ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and more into contemporary, and hip hop. She was a member of iMpulse, a youth jazz company. With this company she took trips up to New York to take classes at Broadway Dance Center with well-known choreographers. For the summer before her senior year she was accepted into the dance program for Governor's School at Radford. Later that summer, she took part in the Rockette's Summer Intensive. For her final recital, she played Jessie in Toy Story, singing, acting, and dancing within the same performance. Since coming to college she has managed to keep up with dance by pursuing the dance minor as well as being a dancer and choreographer in the student run club, The Virginia Dance Company. One of her goals is to be as holistic of a dancer as possible by immersing herself in new styles and learning more and more about the history of dance. She's incredibly thankful to be able to explore the arts as a whole more with the Miller Scholars. Looking to find a career in the rehabilitation of dancers through physical therapy, Alex hopes to continue her passion of dance throughout her life. 

Emily Schmid

Emily Schmid, Drama

Emily Schmid has had a love of theater ever since her first role as billy goat number three in her 2nd grade musical "Three of a kind". Her roles have matured as she grew older, and after exploring theater through acting, participating in tech, and stage managing she has found her passion in playwriting. She is obsessed with stories and the various different ways people tell them. She participated in the School of the Performance Arts for the Richmond Community's New Voices for the Theater program where she got to see one of her works come to life in a staged reading. She then went on to direct her own play as part of her senior class's Spring One-Act Festival. She also served as lead writer on a devised piece that was taken to the Virginia High School League's one act competition. Emily is interested in pursuing more devised theater work and exploring the intersection between movement and stage as well as researching Theater of the Oppressed.

Maelisa Singer

Maelisa Singer, Drama

Maelisa Singer developed an early interest in the arts as a child growing up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. From a very young age, she was constantly creating art in a variety of formats and engaging in activities in the arts. In particular, she enjoyed visiting art museums and studying portraiture and then attempting to recreate certain stunning gowns with her own pen. Another favorite pastime as a child included conceiving her own performances and dressing up in elaborate costumes specifically assembled for the particular show. These childhood activities marked her early interest in historical garments, fashion, and her love of costume design. Her love for the arts only grew as she entered Elementary and Middle School. Maelisa was lucky to be able to attend a special gifted visual arts school once a week, where she worked closely with specially trained teachers and other talented students in the arts. In high school she was very involved in her school’s art department, taking as many classes in the subject area as she possibly could, as well as serving as the president of her school’s National Art Honor Society. She always made sure to exercise her creative abilities in the arts and her love for fashion and costume design never waned. When choosing a university to attend, she ultimately decided upon the University of Virginia because it gave her the opportunity to pursue both her academic and artistic interests. Maelisa has already taken advantage of many wonderful art and costume design opportunities offered here.  She has enjoyed designing and working closely with the Drama department and faculty members on various productions, as well as with the Virginia Players. Maelisa is very honored to be a Miller Arts Scholar, and she cannot wait to learn and collaborate with this talented community!

Katherine Smith

Katherine Smith, Creative Writing

Katherine Smith has been enamored by the written word from a young age. Inspired by the stories that captivated her imagination, she took to writing herself, hoping to ensnare the same wonder that she found in her favorite books. Following her lust for literature and the arts at UVA, she has become involved with the Virginia Literary Review, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, student docents at The Fralin Museum of Art, and the Echols’ Fireside Chat committee. As a Political and Social Thought major, Katherine hopes to use her interdisciplinary education to both inform her writing and study the complex narrative of American identity within 1960s-1970s literature. Katherine can be found puzzling over her next story or poem with a large mug of Earl Grey tea.

Shannon Spence

Shannon Spence, Studio Art

Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Shannon was always encouraged to explore her artistic side, mostly through monster-themed comics she distributed around school. A heavy interest in video games, cartoons and rock music brought her to the graphic and fantastical style of work she creates today.  She has since found an oasis of knowledge and inspiration through the Printmaking department and has begun to focus her work in relief printing. Her study of the Japanese language fuels a desire to further explore the methods of Japanese woodblock printmaking in Japan and share it with the department and beyond. She is also interested in viral and vernacular modes of art, such as tattooing and screen printing, and tries to evoke the excitement and curiosity these modes create through her work.

J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars, Class of 2018

Luc Cianfarani

Luc Cianfarani, Music

Luc Cianfarani is a Music and History major from Saratoga Springs, NY.  He began playing the piano at the age of 5 and music has been an integral part of his life ever since. He decided to intensify his studies beginning in high school and hopes to find a career in music. Over the past few years he has developed a passion for early 20th century piano music and he enjoys playing the works of Prokofiev, Bartok and Rachmaninoff. At UVa, he is a student of John Mayhood and was the pianist in First Year Players' production of Godspell. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a Miller Arts Scholar and is excited to develop his skills as a performer and musician in the program. 

Alexandra D'Elia,

Alexandra D'Elia, Dance

Alexandra (Alex) D'Elia has been involved in the arts since childhood; dancing, playing the piano, acting and choreographing. She grew up competing in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip hop and gymnastics for Dancensations Dance Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where she is currently a dance teacher and camp manager. Alex has also trained with The Washington School of Ballet, The Kirov Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Virginia Residential Governor's School for Visual and Performing Arts, BalletNOVA, Strictly Rhythm Dance Center, and closely with Troy D. Brown through The Art of Technique. Alex is extremely honored to be accepted into the Miller Arts Scholars Program to continue her training in dance as well as collaborate with other artists in differing disciplines.

Wesley Diener

Wesley Diener, Music

While Wesley Diener has intensely studied theatre, violin, and piano, his true passion is singing.  In his hometown of Vienna, VA, Wesley was surrounded by instrumental endeavors when he first discovered the beauty of singing in preparation for musical theatre roles.  Since then, he has truly fallen in love with the art form, performing lead roles in musicals such as Into the Woods, Seussical, and The Wizard of Oz, collaborating with Tony award-winner Jason Robert Brown, and singing in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall multiple times.  At UVa, he studies voice with Mrs. Pamela Beasley and piano with Mr. John Mayhood.  This year, he had the privilege of performing in Ash Lawn Opera's Amahl and the Night Visitors, UVa Drama's Wonderful Town, and First Year Player's The Producers.  Additionally, he is a member of the University Singers and the Chamber Singers, the incoming Fundraising Chair of First Year Players, and a member of the Student Council Arts Committee for the 2015-2016 school year.  This summer, he will be portraying Riff in West Side Story and Micah in The Bartered Bride with the Bethesda Music Festival.  He is thrilled to further explore UVa's artistic opportunities with the Miller Art Scholars!

Vivien Fergusson

Vivien Fergusson, Dance

Vivien Fergusson has been enamored with dance, ever since she was a little girl who aspired to become the world's first ballerina fairy princess. Although she eventually understood that the realization of such a dream was improbable, the passion that founded the ambition remains to this day. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Vivien was trained first by the West End Academy of Dance and later, more extensively, by Richmond Ballet throughout her childhood, during which she performed in numerous workshops and ballet productions. Although her heart belonged to ballet, she did explore other styles, such as jazz, modern, character, and hip-hop; she was enthralled by the effortless intertwining of music and dance, and found great joy in any form of the art. But after a foot injury prevented her from continuing her studies in ballet en pointe, she was forced to give up her classical training and embrace other forms of dance. She became very involved in modern/ contemporary through her school, as a member of her high school's Advanced and Senior Dance Companies. Her personal choreography was selected thrice to be featured in annual concerts. Additionally, outside of the school's explicit dance program, she was elected by her peers to choreograph and teach routines for a yearly grade-wide production called "Brunch," and was also chosen as a choreographer for the Homecoming pep squad's dance routines. Vivien is also certified as a Zumba instructor, and for a while founded a club and taught classes to students and teachers alike. Thus far, the University of Virginia has holistically expanded her knowledge of dance in inconceivable ways and has granted her opportunities she could only have dreamt of. She is extremely honored to have been selected as a Miller Arts Scholar, and looks forward to continuing her education in the art form she loves.

Kirsten Hemrich

Kirsten Hemrich, Studio Art

Kirsten Hemrich grew up outside D.C.. She double majors in painting and poetry writing and is the director of WXTJ Student Radio. During her time at UVA, she has designed and edited the UVA APPW anthology, Quince; has worked for multiple art galleries; has received Miller grants, has received the University Award for Project in the Arts; and has had her work exhibited around Charlottesville. Her work can be found online at:

Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson, Drama

Steven Johnson is a Drama Major concentrating in the areas of Lighting Design, Sound Design, and Scenic Design. Steven has been working in and learning about technical theatre since he began highschool, and continues to push himself in his studies by enrolling graduate level courses and independent studies to expand his mind and hone his skills. Steven is an employee of the UVA Department of Drama's Light Shop, and has also worked for the Virginia Film Festival, Heritage Theatre Festival, and Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City. Steven also volunteers his time as a designer and technician with groups such as Spectrum Theatre, Live Arts, and the Department of Drama. Steven is excited to collaborate with other Miller Arts Scholars to explore and create in new areas of design and tech outside of theatre.

Annalee Jackson

Annalee Jackson, Studio Art

Annalee Jackson is from Thomasville, Georgia and has always shared a passion for the arts especially in the tactile process of printmaking. She is particularly interested in arts communication, both in art as a universal form of communication and in promoting the importance and impact of art to others. In high school, Annalee led a team of three artists to create a 12x15ft mural for a month-long exhibit, and their project was named "Best in Show" in the Youth Division. At UVA she plans to double major in Arts Administration and Studio Art with a concentration in printmaking. She participated in Virginia Arts of the Book Company letterpress intensive and continues to work on creative projects with VABC. Annalee is also an Arts Mentor and Student Docent for the Fralin Museum. She has enjoyed working with creative individuals in the university as well as Charlottesville's art community. After graduation, Annalee plans to attend graduate school to become an Educational/Arts Programming Director for a non-profit organization. It is a personal goal of hers to create interactive and more informative interdisciplinary arts experiences for everyone involved. She is excited and honored to be a part of the Arts Scholars community!

Taylor Lamb

Taylor Lamb, Drama

Taylor Lamb isn't quite sure when her love for theatre started, but it has been her passion for as long as she can remember. At four years old, she forced her family to sit through her one-woman shows that she also wrote and directed, and since then has always had a penchant for performance. Raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she finally got a chance to perform in a real show once she attended Kemps Landing Magnet School. KLMS was the only middle school in Virginia Beach that taught theatre as an elective, and her desire to attend was so great she wrote an unsolicited, probably unwanted one page essay in colorful font in the hopes of receiving admission. She got in and took theatre each year, receiving a variety of lead roles. She then continued her education at Salem High School's Visual and Performing Arts Academy. Through her four years there she got the chance to play wonderful roles such as Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mother Superior in Agnes of God, and Carmen in Fame to name a few. Her junior class was also able to perform at the award winning Folger Theater, where she received the Supporting Star Award for her rendition of Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet. Since coming to Univeristy of Virginia, she has performed in the Vagina Monologues, the premiere show of Two Lips, Grounds for Discussion, and Black Monologues. It is very important to her to use art as a means for change, which is why she has participated in these shows. Her love of theatre is eternal, and she recently got a tattoo that says "Break A Leg" in her high school theatre teacher's handwriting to prove it. She plans to major in English with a minor in Drama, and continue her study of theatre long after her time at the University of Virginia ends.

Emma Lewis

Emma Lewis, Studio Art

Emma Lewis has always been passionate for art and can remember at a young age painting alongside my grandmother in her studio. Growing up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, she began drawing and painting. In high school, she took classes in three-dimensional art and black and white photography to explore different artistic mediums. During her senior year she created a compilation of mixed media works that examined the distorting effect widows and glass have on the light passing through them. Through this study she discovered an interest for lines and detailed mark making, characteristic of her current style. Emma received several art awards from her high school and placed in local art competitions. At the university, Emma is excited to take a variety of studio art classes and expose herself to new mediums. She will begin training as a student docent at the Fralin Museum of Art in the fall semester. Emma plans on double-majoring in studio art and biology and is honored to be chosen as an Arts Scholar.

Josephine Miller

Josephine Miller, Music

Josephine Miller is a music major, with a concentration in vocal performance and a double major with Speech Pathology (Curry). She have always been very influenced by and involved in the arts- her parents are wonderful musical inspirations for her. As a military brat, she has found that, no matter where she goes, the community that she feels most at home in is the music community. As a young child, some of her fondest memories are of listening to her mother play beautiful sonatas on her beloved Yamaha. From dance classes to voice lessons, her family has been extremely supportive of her passion for singing. Josephine has taken voice lessons for the past seven years (with Mary Matthews) during which she has competed in several competitions (NATs, Virginia Bland). She has had the privilege of performing an aria for Leona Mitchell. On grounds, Josephine is the Music Director of the all-female a cappella group, Hoos in Treble, as well a member of the University Singers. She also takes voice lessons with Pamela Beasley and studies piano with Barbara Moore. Josephine is excited not only to connect with other musicians, but also to learn and grow with other artists in different disciplines.

Nicholas Milkovich

Nicholas Milkovich, Studio Art

Nicholas is a Studio Art and Mechanical Engineering double major. His concentration in Studio Art is in Sculpture. Growing up in a Chicago Illinois suburb, Nicholas found a passion for art thanks to many encouraging teachers. He found that there was room for the arts in a path that contained a heavy amount of science and mathematics. He went on to patriciate in advanced placement art classes where he then began to pursue concentrations and enter art shows, even winning Best in Show for an art competition in his High School judged by professional artists. In college, he continued his growth in Sculpture by declaring his major at the end of his first semester second year. Although his work has been small scale to this point, he hopes to move on to large scale projects for the future. Nicholas is a Student Docent at the Fralin Museum of Art at UVa, planning and giving educational tours. He is the Selections Chair for the Docents which puts him in charge of recruitment and selection of new docent trainees. He is also a member of the UVa Art Mentors program which reaches out to Charlottesville elementary schools to encourage the interest in art at a young age. Each month, the mentors bring the children to a unique art event in Charlottesville such as the Virginia Film Festival and Charlottesville Ballet.

Sibet Partee

Sibet Partee, Drama

Sibet Partee, an aspiring performer/podcaster/poet and a dramatic to the core, gets her hands on any project her acting chops can sink into. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, she began more seriously acting as a high schooler at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School playing such roles as Irena Synkova (I Never Saw Another Butterfly), Sophia Zubritsky (Fools), and Winnifred (Once Upon a Mattress). She also attended the Virginia Residential Governor's School for the Arts as drama student before her senior year of high school. As she moved into college, she began taking many performance and writing classes within the drama department, studying with professors Richard Warner, Kate Burke, and Doug Grissom. She began performing on stage at UVa with Spectrum Theatre in her first year, playing Tiresias in Welcome to Thebes. Fall of 2016, Sibet played the title female role in Shakespeare on the Lawn's performance of Antony and Cleopatra. Having been enrolled in Doug Grissom's playwriting class for most of her undergraduate career and as a student of the Area Program in Poetry Writing within the English department, she is also a playwright and poet. Sibet was awarded the University Award for Projects in the Arts to write and produce a serialized fiction narrative podcast in the UK for during the summer of 2016 and the following scholastic year. Sibet has her own podcast called Come on, Bet! on which she will publish the aforementioned fiction podcast and as well as the content she experimentally produces throughout her college career. Sibet aspires to use the Fourth Year Arts Award to combine her love of the dramatic stage and the audio studio by writing, producing, directing (and perhaps performing in) a live radio drama during her final year at the University of Virginia.

Natalie Pernick

Natalie Pernick, Drama

Natalie Pernick has been dramatic for as long as she can remember, and has aspired to be an actress since her breakout role as the Hen in her second grade classroom performance – her family has learned to come to terms with it. Growing up overseas, Natalie found her place in her schools' drama departments and quickly developed a love for musical theatre. She has since performed leading roles in a number of plays and musicals, including The Producers, Xanadu, The Great Gatsby, The Little Foxes, Godspell, and Almost, Maine. Natalie has married her passion for drama to her international background at the University, pursuing a double major in Drama and Foreign Affairs. Since being at UVA, she has performed as Teenage Elin in the UVA Department of Drama show The Arctic Circle (and a recipe for Swedish pancakes), and has both performed and directed with First Year Players. Additionally, she is a member of the all-female a cappella group Hoos in Treble. She will be furthering her studies in drama while abroad in Dublin in the fall. She is thrilled to have been selected for the Miller Arts Scholars Program and is excited to see where her passions for performance and art will take her while at the University and beyond.

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Mimi Robinson, Drama

Mimi Robinson was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, but she grew up in Manassas, Virginia with her supportive parents and younger brother. Mimi has been surrounded by art, music, and theater from a very young age, and consequently, her passions lie in an array of disciplines. She is primarily a musical theater actress, but her deep love of storytelling also manifests itself in her performances of straight plays and dramas, in her classical voice lessons with U.Va Music Department’s Pamela Beasley, and in her own creative writing projects. Mimi first explored her acting skills with Pied Piper Theater in Manassas and with the theater department at her alma mater, Highland School in Warrenton, Virginia. A few of her favorite past roles include Maria in The Sound of Music, Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and Lizzy Curry in 110 in the Shade. For the past three summers, Mimi has been a recurring seasonal actress with the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans, Massachusetts, and with this special company she appeared as Eponine in their blockbuster productions of Les Misérables in both 2013 and 2014. This past summer she played Aldonza in Man of La Mancha at the Academy, and her portrayal was critically acclaimed around Cape Cod. Mimi won the “BroadwayWorld (Boston) Award for Best Actress in a Musical” for her performance of Aldonza, and she was recognized as a “Cape Cod Times Favorite Performance of 2015.”  At U.Va, Mimi is heavily involved with the Drama Department and has appeared in a few main stage productions, including Our Town as a member of the ensemble, and The Triumph of Love as Léontine. She’s looking forward to deepening her collaborative skills with other Miller Arts Scholars, and is thankful for the opportunity to explore her creative interests with a group of people so dedicated to artistic expression.

Parima Sahbai

Parima Sahbai, Studio Art

Born in Tehran, Iran but raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Parima's first words according to her mother were neither "Mom" nor "Dad" but "drawing". She would draw on the walls, on the floor, on herself, and on any possible surface that she could find and as she grew up her love for arts, music, and creativity grew too. Parima dedicated all of her high school years to playing the violin in her school orchestra and has a passion for classical music as well. She loves learning new languages and enjoys learning about different cultures, which often translate into her artwork. Parima is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Studio Arts.

Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez, Drama

Julian Sanchez, both a Miller Arts and Echols Scholar, is an actor from Centreville, VA. Here at UVA, Julian has appeared in a number of productions including The Comedy of ErrorsThe Sweetest Swing in Baseball, and Wonderful Town (Drama Dept.) as well as Richard II (Shakespeare on the Lawn). During his third year, Julian studied abroad at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, where he acted in Titus AndronicusJulius Caesar, and Coriolanus. As a company member of Charlottesville’s Heritage Theatre Festival, Julian has spent each of his summers earning professional credits in Monty Python’s SpamalotVioletThe Pirates of PenzanceYou’re a Good Man Charlie BrownMiddletown, and A Chorus Line (upcoming). He was also fortunate enough to star in Hand to God at Live Arts Charlottesville. Upon graduating with a BA in English Literature, Julian will continue his theatrical pursuits at the Yale School of Drama, where he will earn his MFA in Acting.

Braelyn Schenk

Braelyn Schenk, Dance

Braelyn Schenk; dancer, singer/songwriter, actor and the many other titles, activities and passions, loves and joys that make her human, have been cultivated in and around her since she was very young. Braelyn began dancing in her hometown of Cleveland, OH at the age of 3. Her ballet slippers and pink tutu soon became the expected wardrobe when attending speech and drama lessons. From the dance studio, to the drama classroom, to the family kitchen, where she most often tested her newest vocal and musical experiments, Braelyn and art became inseparable. Schooled at home through to her early high school years, her parents were able to help Braelyn pursue her passion for the performing arts and for the community it cultivates by taking full advantage of Cleveland's renowned orchestra, theatre district, and countless artist collectives. The city of Cleveland and all that it offers, became one of her expansive classrooms. When Braelyn moved to Charlottesville in 2011, she attended public high school for the first time where her customized education, her passion for art and early training paid off. Braelyn's high school drama teacher was an impressive catalyst as she sought to use theatre to further her students, the school and greater community of Charlottesville.  In this, Braelyn saw the merging of all she held dear; excellent artistry, community building, and social uplift. By involving herself in every level of her high school's theatre department, Braelyn gained more experience in acting, singing, dancing, choreographing and community building. These activities, passions, loves and joys have only been magnified by her first year at UVA as she continues to sing, dance and act for the greater good of her community.

Gabrielle Struckell

Gabrielle Struckell, Dance

Gabrielle (Gabby) Struckell began dancing at a young age in her hometown of Dallas, TX. She studied at KJ Dance and joined the company at this studio in 2006. Under the direction of Kristy Blakeslee she attended many dance conventions and competitions, regionally and nationally. Gabby has traveled to New York and Los Angeles expanding her dance education at NYCDA Nationals and learning from various instructors at the Edge Studio. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, she put on a dance camp in Belfast, Northern Ireland for segregated youth living in the inner city communities. After this experience, she has been interested in how dance can bring people of different cultures and backgrounds together and hopes to pursue this interest further at UVA. While on the pre med track, Gabby enjoys balancing her math and science classes with her arts classes. She is planning on minoring in dance, having performed in the Fall 2014 Experimental Dance Concert and the Spring 2015 Dance concert. One of her favorite experiences first year was attending the American College Dance Association conference at Towson University with other members of the dance program at UVA. Gabby is very excited to be apart of this amazing program while learning about different opportunities to pursue the arts here at the University of Virginia.

Micah Watson

Micah Watson, Drama

Micah Ariel Watson is a Drama and African-American Studies Distinguished major. As a playwright and filmmaker, her work focuses on the ways in which Black history and the contemporary moment mirror one another, often employing devices of poetry and hip-hop. In the fall of 2015 and 2016, Micah founded, produced, and directed The Black Monologues a groundbreaking theatrical production that explores the diversity of Blackness at UVA and beyond. Her films Edges and Educated Feet were shown at the Virginia Film Festival in 2016 and 2017, respectively. In the spring of 2017, Micah’s play Wake Up Music! was a part of the New Works Festival and the winner of the Clay E. Delauney Memorial Award.  Recently, Micah received the Kennedy Center Undergraduate Playwriting Award for Canaan and is a finalist for the KCACTF Gary Garrison 10-Minute Play Award for Will Be Live. She will continue pursuing a career as a playwright and screenwriter by attending NYU Tisch School of The Arts Dramatic Writing Program in the fall of 2018.

Yuchen Zie

Yuchen Xie, Studio Art

Growing up in a family that treasures Chinese traditional music and arts, Yuchen studied Chinese art and began to play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) at a very young age.   Her first memory of drawing is holding a huge brush and doodling Chinese watercolor on a piece of paper. She was so short at that time that she had to stand on a pile of bricks to get her head over the drawing table. It was after she started taking a drawing class at UVa that she finally decide to choose art as her life-long pursuit. She performed the Guzheng with a Chinese traditional musical band at Old Cabel Hall last semester. The success of this concert makes her even more passionate about bringing different music and arts to this community while exploring deeper into drawing.