Enjoy an evening of art, music, and theatre
by Wright State students
March 28, 2015, 6:30 ro midnight

ARTSGALA Scholarship Alumni

Over the past 14 years, ARTSGALA has raised well over $1.6 million to support scholarships for our fine and performing arts students.

Below are the testimonies from just a few of our former ARTSGALA scholarship recipients.

Art & Art History

Nicholaus Arnold

photo of nicholaus arnold

Graduation Year: 2008
Degree Obtained: BFA Printmaking

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I'm currently finishing up my third year of graduate school at Syracuse University getting my MFA in printmaking. For the last two years I've been teaching classes at Syracuse in the printmaking program as a graduate assistant. Since I finished my degree at Wright State University, I've been showing nationally and will have a show in Chelsea NYC this spring and another at the DUMBO Arts Center this November. Although incredibly busy writing my thesis, I'm also showing with a Dayton-based art collective known as the Broken Dayton Art Machine. Together as a group we're self curating shows across the country in different cities across the U.S. such as Syracuse, NY; Knoxville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; and Portland, ME; and still continue to show our work and work with Dayton artists to promote them nationally. All of this and this fall I'm hoping to continue teaching art as an adjunct in either Kansas, Colorado, Georgia, or Texas.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Recieving the ARTSGALA scholarship allowed me to devote the necessary time to school to become the artist I am today. As an independent student supporting myself, paying full tuition and attending classes full time was difficult even at WSU, but the ARTSGALA scholarship freed me from enough of the financial burden to concentrate on my studies, and even excel at them. Please thank the patrons of the scholarship; it really did mean a great deal to me.

Maria Elkins

Graduation Year: 2006
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am still living in Beavercreek, Ohio. In 2008, I made the transition from working full time outside the home in a non-art-related job to working part time from home in a non-art-related job and working as much as I like at my art. I have concentrated on textile arts, primarily fine art quilts. Most of my quilts are portraits intended for the wall. I use a variety of techniques including printmaking, painting, and applique. I lecture and teach workshops for quilt guilds nationwide, and in 2009 I filmed a DVD workshop which is selling very well. My primary interest, however, is to create fine art quilts which I enter in national and international competitions. Since 2006 I have had five quilts juried into the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas (the largest international quilt competition), and four of them have won ribbons and cash prizes. Another won a competition and is featured in the 2011 Quilting Arts calendar. In addition, I've written various articles for Quilting Arts magazine and In Stitches eMagazine. I've been featured on Quilting Arts TV, and I've had numerous quilts published.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you? 
I began college more than 20 years earlier and had to drop out, so going back to college as an adult with two children who were also in college was a challenge. Receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship was an affirmation that I was on the right track in choosing to continue my art education. It was also a blessing to me financially since there are not very many scholarships that are available to part-time students.

Leah Grommon

Graduation Year: 2002
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Where are you now and what are you doing? 
Hello! I am currently living in Beavercreek. Upon graduating from WSU, I joined the Village Artisans Gallery in Yellow Springs. I sell my original paintings there. I also have settled down and very much enjoy my family life with my husband and three children. I also work part time at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton. I am a Technical Director in the theatre department. This position allows me to use my fine arts background and I love it! I help create and paint set designs for various productions for the theatre department. If you have seen a Stiver's theatre production, then you have seen my work! My youngest child will be starting school in August 2011, and I will be looking for more regular work. I would love to go back to college and work towards a master's degree. I look forward to what the future holds!

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Receiving the scholarship showed me that my professors believed in my potential and my abilities as a young artist.

Rachel Orson

Graduation Year: 2009
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I currently live in Springfield, OH, and still commute to WSU as a graduate student of the College of Education and Human Services. I am currently working on getting my master's degree in education and licensure for multi-age art. Hopefully in the next year or so I will find a job as an art teacher for any of the grades K-12. In my program right now I am placed with an art teacher in the Fairborn City School district. Once I am finished with college I hope to have more time to paint; that is what I miss most about being an art student at Wright State University. I had so many wonderful art experiences!

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Although I received $1,000, the fact that my professors chose me personally to receive a scholarship was priceless and meant the world to me. I am honestly still paying off my credit card bills from the Italy trip which the scholarship was for, and that scholarship made my life one thousand dollars easier. There was no way I would have missed that trip and I will always be grateful.

Music

Sarah (Newberry) Burdsall

Graduation Year: 2008
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Music Education

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I live 40 miles east of Cincinnati with my wonderful husband and teach choir, grades 6-12, at Clermont Northeastern Local Schools. I am also assistant director of the drama department there and co-direct two musicals per year, one at the middle school and one at the high school level. I also teach private piano and voice lessons. Outside of my career in education, I also play piano for the church I attend, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, in Blanchester, Ohio, and am very involved in the youth group there as a youth leader and songleader.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
I am the first person in my entire family—grandparents, parents, cousins, siblings—to graduate with a bachelor's degree.I am very proud of that fact, and I know that it meant the world to my family. My family was never poor, but my parents worked hard to give us everything we had, so it was very gratifying to receive a scholarship based on my musical talent. It meant less money worry for me and for my parents and more energy I could pour into my studies. I am honored to have been a recipient, and eternally grateful to those who made it possible for students like me to finish their education in the arts. Without your generosity, I would not be where I am today. Thank you!

Errik M. Hood

photo of errik hood

Graduation Year: 2008
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance

Where are you now and what are you doing?
After graduating from Wright State University, I attended the Bienen School of Music of Northwestern University on a graduate teaching assistanceship, where I received my Master of Music Performance and Literature in the fields of voice and opera. I performed with the Opera New Jersey and Chautauqua Opera young artist programs, and am now back in Dayton, where I maintain a private voice studio and am currently fullfilling a short-term appointment on the faculty of Wright State.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
It was a tremendous help with applied fees, books, music, etc. The costs that really add up on top of tuition are the ones that financially struggling students often fall behind on.

Richard “Andy” Miller

Graduation Year: 2009
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am currently finishing a master's program in percussion performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon entering I was awarded the Swanson Family Percussion Fellowship and have worked hard to stay at the very top of my class. Some accomplishments have been playing principal timpani and percussion with the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, winning the 2010 orchestra concerto competition, and performing as section percussion with both the Champaign-Urbana Symphony and Sinfonia da Camera (two regional orchestras). I have learned and been exposed to a lot of new experiences here. Of particular importance has been the Center for World Music, where I have been able to study Balinese Gamelan, Cuban music, and traditional West African drumming. I have had the great opportunity to both study and live with master drummer Bolokada Conde, who is revered as one of the world’s foremost Djembe players. Most excitingly I am a finalist for a Fulbright Scholarship, which would allow me to study both contemporary classical music and traditional percussion techniques in Bogata, Columbia for the 2011-12 academic year.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
With the ARTSGALA scholarship comes the knowledge that you have a whole community encouraging and supporting your pursuit of the arts. As many in the performing arts often struggle or think of changing directions in life, it is support like the ARTSGALA scholarship that can keep us dedicated to our artistic visions.

Ben Streitenberger

photo of ben streitenberger

Graduation Year: 2008
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Music

Where you are now and what are you doing?
I am the director of bands at Washington Middle School in Washington Court House, Ohio, where I direct 6th, 7th, 8th grade Concert Bands and Jazz Band. I also assist with the Washington High School band program, led by my colleague, Mr. Matt Stanley. As a tuba player, I actively participate with the Heavy Metal Tuba Quartet and Fayette Community Band of Fayette County Ohio. My wonderful wife Alison and I just welcomed our beautiful daughter, Claire Renee, on 2/1/2011. I am thoroughly enjoying my life as a band director, husband, and dad.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Seeing as how I funded my own way through college, the ARTSGALA scholarship meant opportunity to me! I am forever grateful for the donations made by gracious community members of the greater Dayton area, for allowing me to pursue my dream of becoming a music educator. I now get the opportunity to spread such an attitude of unselfish compassion with today's young people, as I stand before them and share also my incredible love for music. Thank you donors for helping me achieve my dreams!

Justin Williams

Graduation Year: 2006
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Music Education

Where are you now and what are you doing?
Upon leaving Wright State University, I continued working as a church music director while working on my M.Div. at United Theological Seminary. In 2009, I became the music coordinator at United Theological Seminary. As of August 1, 2010, I am pastor of Hoffman United Methodist Church in West Milton, Ohio. I believe that my musical skills will continue to enhance my ministry. I now volunteer with the music programs at the Milton Union schools.

Rebecca (Appleton) Wynn

photo of rebecca wynn

Graduation Year: 2005
Degree Obtained:Bachelor of Music in History and Literature

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am now living in West Carrollton with my husband of  three years and our beautiful baby boy, who is now  6 months old. I run a string trio, and we perform at various gigs, mostly weddings. I also am a member of the Lebanon Symphony Orchestra in Lebanon, OH, and occasionally still perform with the WSU Symphony Orchestra. I am studying a second bachelor's degree in nursing, and have returned to Wright State University to do so. I currently work part time as a nursing assistant at Kettering Medical Center Emergency Department.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
I remember the day I was told I was an ARTSGALA scholarship recipient. I was shocked, and was SO grateful! I still feel honored at having received an ARTSGALA scholarship. It meant everything to me.

Theatre, Dance & Motion Pictures

Ian DeVine

Graduation Year: 2013
Degree Obtained: BFA Acting with emphasis in Musical Theatre

Where are you now and what are you doing?
While at WSU, I was blessed to be cast in many productions such as Hairspray (Link Larkin), RENT (Angel/Swing), Anything Goes (Moonface Martin), Jekyll and Hyde, 42nd Street, The Light in the Piazza, The Phantom of the Opera, and Hello Dolly. My professional credits include Seussical, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, and Flashback Totally 80’s.  I also participated in ARTSGALA 2011 and 2012 in the main stage productions of Anything Goes and Hairspray. I am so fortunate to have been cast in Thoroughly Modern Millie at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, so my adventure is just beginning!

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship was an honor and really helped me focus on my craft and education. I was able to really put my education and schoolwork at the forefront of my priorities. The scholarship and program helped me make my dreams come true!

Wright State’s program is incredible! The faculty and students are so warm and welcoming! ARTSGALA is the place to be!

Ben Garchar

photo of ben garchar

Graduation Year: 2009
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Production.

Where are you and what are you doing now?
New York City, working as an editorial assistant for documentary films, and writing a feature length screenplay. I was born in Youngstown, Ohio. I hold a B.F.A. in motion picture production from Wright State University, where I wrote and directed two successful short films (Run to Me Run from Me and Somewhere Never Traveled). I was also an assistant editor, camera person, and interviewer for the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant. In New York, I edited promotional pieces for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, NEWFEST, and photographer Scott Pasfield. My short film Somewhere Never Traveled recently won a Special Jury Prize at the Gotham Screen International Film Festival for Best Experimentation in Film.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Receiving an ARTSGALA scholarship was wonderful because it allowed me to bring my education to the forefront. It's the gift that allowed me to singularly focus on reaching my goals.

Michael Nolte

Graduation Year: 2001
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design/Technology

Where are you now and what are you doing?
After graduating from Wright State, I spent four years as the scenic designer at Midland Community Theatre in Midland, Texas. I’m currently the scenery supervisor for the dance and opera production unit of the division of performing arts at the University of Iowa.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
I felt honored and was grateful for the recognition and assistance.

Alison Reny

Graduation Year: 2008
Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, and Marketing Minor

Where are you now and what are you doing?
After graduation, I was offered a position on the dance faculty at The Toledo School for the Arts, which I accepted. I have started my own pre-professional company, Limitless, which performs throughout the city and surrounding areas. My students have been accepted in programs at Alvin Ailey, The Edge, and Broadway Dance Center. When I am not teaching, I travel to Bowling Green State University, Wright State University, The Ohio Dance Festival, and many other studios throughout Ohio and Michigan to teach and choreograph.

What did receiving the ARTSGALA scholarship mean to you?
Wonderful surprise! Every scholarship helped immensely, and let me continue to pursue my dream at such a wonderful university. I owe everything to Wright State, and my incredible teachers who led me to where I am today!