Vapa 2021


2021 LAS Awards

Jonah Brock
Outstanding Undergraduate Student – VAPA, Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Visual Art
From the moment Jonah Brock first set foot in our classroom, it was apparent to all of us that we were in the presence of an incredibly smart, curious, well rounded, and powerful person. One of the first things we learned about him is that he arrived at UCCS already well-formed as an artist and writer, regularly exhibiting his visual art, and consistently giving public readings of his poetry. We also quickly learned that Jonah’s desire to grow as an artist, arts advocate, and scholar is extraordinary. From constantly taking ambitious risks with his artwork in the studio, to enthusiastically engaging with academic course content, to revitalizing the student art club as its Co-President, to sitting on the VAPA Chair’s council, Jonah has shown a profound commitment to the arts and the culture created by the arts. In the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Jonah has worked primarily within both Visual Art and Art History, and his creative work/research span such themes as gender, mythology, abjection, beauty, terror, and the relationship between the sacred and the profane. If one thing can be said of someone as complex and thoughtful as Jonah, it is that he is driven by the belief that powerful art creates connections…between ideas, between individuals, and across communities. And everything that Jonah has done while at UCCS is an expression of this belief. This award was created for just this kind of student-artist, and Jonah is the ideal recipient for not just Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Visual Art but for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in VAPA as well! 
Nick Burlison
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Film Studies
Nick’s outstanding work in Film Studies demonstrates his fitness to be the scholar-teacher he aspires to be. Not only can Nick master difficult theoretical methodology in cinematic critique, he has done compelling analysis in a wide variety of courses on genres, directors, and national cinemas. Nick's undergraduate career has been a well-conceived interdisciplinary trajectory. He applies his critical methodology in film analysis to short film productions and he has benefitted from our professional regional stage, Theaterworks, where he excelled as a Dramaturg and Co-director, with Professor Max Shulman, of the play An Illiad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare. Moreover, Nick has been active in discussing and analyzing history and the state of cinema on various podcasts, in online magazines, and across the pages of our campus undergraduate research journal. His intense concentration on growth in his coursework, his projects and his self-study apparently does not take up all of Nick’s time. There is far more to his proactive attitude and his outstanding student reputation on campus and in the community. His stamina is no doubt rooted in the experiences of his former military service. Nick holds rank in the Visual and Performing Arts Department as the appointed student ambassador of the department to the Dean of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and as the student representative to the Curriculum and Requirements Committee. He has also been active as one of the three directors of the 20th Annual UCCS Student Short Film Festival, and has served as a TA in the Introduction to Film Studies course. Nick’s extraordinary abilities will certainly allow him to continue on to a PhD program in Film Studies.
John Alexander Colón   
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Film Studies
In his first year on campus, John’s work received no less than three UCCS Student Short Film Festival awards. A coup indeed, given the fact that the student springboard to regional and national festivals is often enabled through success at this first public presentation. The winning film, Grayscale, displays his elegant and contemporary neo-noir style. John has worked on eleven short films between 2018 and 2020 in all creative and technical capacities, and the basis of his scripts often deal with references to his cultural experience as a Puerto Rican-born American. He understands cinema as an activist art, and he has grown in his desire to deal with racism, sexism, and xenophobia in the language of film. Recently, John has moved his expertise to Theaterworks and the UCCS Student Theater Company for exciting politically/critical based projects. He served as the director of photography and editor of Mary Pritchard’s film adaptation of Love of the Nightingale, and also filmed and edited the testaments of El Paso County Voters in the Elections at Altitude Monologues. John has capped his undergraduate career with an LAS UCCS Student/Faculty Creative Works Award Grant to create the short film, Diáspora, an allegorical examination of the after-effects of colonial dysphoria. The film aims to negate the reductive postcolonial indications found in mainstream film. John is one of the three students selected to direct the 20th Annual UCCS Student Short Film Festival for 2021, and he is planning to continue his impressive cinematic creativity at an MFA program and in the industry starting next year.
Amanda Dillon
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Music
Amanda Dillon, born April 26th, 2000, was raised in the town of Lyons Colorado. Amanda is in her senior year at UCCS studying Composition and Sound Design. She has played music for as long as she can remember, thanks to her mom who began teaching her piano at a young age. In addition to being a composer, she is also a pianist and vocalist. She studies composition with Glen Whitehead and voice at UCCS with Haleh Abghari. Her research focuses on provided education to different communities on local and global environmental crisis’ through eco-acoustics in music. Amanda worked as a Music Designer for the Theaterworks production of “Lysistrata”. She has also taught after-school music classes at Manitou Springs Elementary School. Currently, she teaches private music lessons at Silversound Guitar in Colorado Springs and is excited to share the joys of music with her students. She also works as a member of the Work study Production team for the UCCS music department. Amanda has been a member of the UCCS Honors Ensemble since 2019. She has served in the role as an accompanist for many junior and senior recitals.
Caleb Hall
Outstanding Undergraduate Student VAPA, Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Theatre and Dance
Caleb Hall has been an exemplary student at UCCS, both in his scholarship and in his artistic practice.  Not only has he maintained a high GPA, he participated in multiple productions in the department, in theatre and in dance.  He is one of the first students to graduate as a dual concentration in both disciplines.  A dancer, an actor, a stage manager, a work study student, and an active member of the Colorado Springs arts community, Caleb has demonstrated the best of the VAPA ethos.  He is a multi-disciplinary artist who deeply engages in the structures of arts creation and the theory behind the history of art.  Caleb served on the Chair’s Council, where he was a principle organizer of the annual student Arts Festival, and, in his role as UCCS Senator of the Arts, he sat on the boards of Theatreworks and the Galleries of Contemporary Art.  Caleb was selected in 2019 as one of the recipients of the Theatre Travel Scholarship.  In that capacity, he worked at the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater in New York City.  Caleb has a bright future and we all heartily congratulate him on a fantastic tenure at UCCS.