Meet the CLAS of 2017: Arts

Our arts graduates pursue their passions with heart and intent. As they created, they developed useful skills and knowledge, and career paths emerged before their eyes. Whether on the stage, behind the camera or creating art and products with their chosen tools, these Jayhawks go out into the world fully prepared to make their mark.

Alyssa Rivera, bachelor’s in dance

Notable: Alyssa originally chose a mechanical engineering major when she transferred from Butler Community College to KU in 2014. Although it represented a “safer” career path, it also meant giving up on her dream of becoming a performer. After choosing dance, she’s become a star in the department, performing with the University Dance Company and UNITY, a hip-hop dance club. In December 2016, she performed as a backup dancer with Ginuwine, cementing her goal of graduating to pursue a career in commercial dance.

“Attending KU, mentally and physically was a huge transformation. It was a challenge to know what specifically was for me profession-wise and who to talk when I needed advise. Most importantly, I’ve learned to fall and pick myself up many times and actually open my mouth for help, rather than being prideful.”

Gina Sandi-Diaz, Ph.D. in theatre

 Notable: Gina received her M.A. from KU in 2007 and returned to Costa Rica as a professor at the National University of Costa Rica’s School of Performing Arts, taught many undergraduate theatre courses here at KU, and was active with the Interactive Theatre Troupe.

“Take advantage of all the opportunities KU has to offer – join a team or a student organization, take classes outside your department, participate in activities that celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and social justice, visit the libraries and museums. This campus is awesome!”

Savannah Rodgers, bachelor’s in film & media studies with a minor in women, gender & sexuality studies

Notable: Savannah has written, directed, edited and distributed many of her own films, winning multiple awards and accolades both at KU, and nationally. An advocate for greater visibility and understanding for the LGBTQ community, Savannah founded Professional Amateur Productions, a company that aims to create quality, intersectional feminist content.

“Before coming to college, I struggled with a lot of personal demons. I felt debilitated in every aspect of my life: personally, professionally, and it interfered with my education. Coming to KU helped me get a grip. It helped me choose the life I wanted. I had the opportunity to learn from incredible mentors and friends. I learned how to help myself here, which is by far the greatest thing I could have learned.”

Janae Hall, bachelor’s in flim & media studies and illustration & animation

Notable: Janae was a starter on the first-ever KU women’s volleyball team to reach the Final Four, but she retired her senior year to focus her time on academics. She’s an animator, who had an internship with Sony Pictures. She has her own line called naenae which features items such as mugs, t-shirts and totes printed with her unique designs.

“My plans after graduation are to move to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in production for animation. I have loved animation and cartoons all my life, so to finally be at the point in my life where I can start really pursuing working in that industry is very exciting!”

Megan Cunanan Murphy, bachelor’s of fine arts in visual art

Notable: Megan grew up partly in the U.S. and partly in the Philippines. She’s explored various paths for creative expression and has found a passion for sculpture. She’s exhibited on campus and Kansas City. Her recent exhibition at the Kansas Union Gallery, “Suppressions,” was a series of clay figures that personified hidden and abstract human emotions.

“In a discussion with my friends recently, I said that the past four years of my education taught me to be an eternal learner. I figured through many ups and downs that art is simply my means of communication and comprehension. I think everyone is different in this aspect, and I was fortunate to have found my voice. Because of this, I am able to understand myself, others and the world around me.

Tim Cornell, bachelor’s in film & media studies

Notable: Tim is a December graduate who landed a job right out of school as the assistant director of video services at Auburn University in Alabama. He worked for Rock Chalk Video for KU Athletics during his time at KU.