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School of Performing and Visual Arts

Alumni Testimonials

Meet some of our School of Performing and Visual Arts alumni and find out what they had to say about their journey at Southern Miss.


Art and Design

Melanie AppelMelanie Appel

 

 

USM graphic design professors facilitate an extremely hands-on, energetic, collaborative environment to learn amongst your peers and solve problems.

Melanie Appel ’18

Testimonial

"Through opportunities such as Rise Creative and Creative Collective, I have been able to gain leadership experience, work with real clients in the community, and be mentored in ways that I could not have been anywhere else. USM graphic design professors facilitate an extremely hands-on, energetic, collaborative environment to learn amongst your peers and solve problems. Experiences in the classroom have taught me that art is about so much more than creating things that “look cool.” It is more so about visually identifying real issues in the world and aiming to help solve them. My education at USM has deepened my understanding of how creatives visually give a voice to people and can create impact around them. I am extremely grateful to have learned in this environment amongst such creative mentors and classmates alike!"

Melanie Appel is a graphic designer located in Jackson, Mississippi. From a young age, art was not only something that fascinated her, but something she was extremely passionate about. Currently living in Jackson, Mississippi, she is working as an interactive designer for the creative agency, Maris, West & Baker. Melanie is a 2018 graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, with a BFA in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. While earning her degree at USM, it was then that she knew how much design could impact the world. From here she has had the chance to work with clients ranging from nonprofits that support young mothers and parents, to local businesses across the state that are looking to gain a voice in their city. These experiences in addition to the experiences she had as a student at USM has further affirmed just how much design can impact our lives and the world. 

Learn more about the Art and Design Program

Dance

Falon BaltzellFalon Baltzell

 

I am grateful for the guidance I received from the USM dance faculty, who taught me the many benefits of dance in helping young people reach their potential; this will help further our goals to impact more youth locally and nationally.

Falon Baltzell'09

 

Testimonial

"Throughout my time as a Dance major at USM, I was inspired by the progressive approach to education that is promoted at Southern Miss. In particular, my studies in performance and choreography with an emphasis in dance education, developed my foundation as an educator to teach in public and private institutions. My education guided the trajectory of my career; from graduate school at SUNY Brockport, to serving as the Director of Upper School Dance at Hathaway Brown School, to entrepreneurial endeavors as a practicing artist, and currently as the Artistic Director of The Wooden Floor. It is an honor to be the artistic leadership for such an inspiring organization where I am charged with continuing to advance our culture of artistic excellence through: dance education, performances, choreography, and community engagement. I am grateful for the guidance I received from the USM dance faculty, who taught me the many benefits of dance in helping young people reach their potential; this will help further our goals to impact more youth locally and nationally." 

Falon Baltzell has presented her minimalistic choreography at festivals, conferences, site specific venues, museum galleries, concert stages and dance film across CA, NY, OH, MA, NM, HI, and Mexico. Recent premiers include dance for film at The Vast Lab, and residencies at the MacDuffie School and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Notable commissions for choreography: Big Box Series, Cincy Fringe, and Society of New Music. Baltzell has served as a Field Tester for the Ohio Arts Council, Co-Chair of Creation and Presentation for the World Dance Alliance-Americas, and a current member of the National Dance Education Organization. A Certified Evans Teacher, Baltzell is passionate about teaching youth through the Evans Technique at The Wooden Floor, where she serves as Artistic Director. Baltzell holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance, Performance and Choreography, and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Education with K-12 Licensure.

Learn more about the Dance program


Theatre

Rachael SwartzRachel Swartz

  

USM's exclusive partnership with the Lessac Research and Training Institute under Professor Robin Aronson's careful and innovative guidance has been life altering.

Rachael Swartz'14

Testimonial

"Robin Aronson's support of my scholarship transcended my time as a student. USM's exclusive partnership with the Lessac Research and Training Institute under Robin's careful and innovative guidance has been life altering. This partnership provided me an affordable opportunity to pursue critical recognition in an area of scholarship that has now taken me across oceans. I will return in August to Manila, Philippines alongside Robin - Robin serving as Vocal Coach and myself as Text Coach at Ateneo de Manila on their production of "Dolorosa." I will assist her in offering Lessac workshops at the Philippine Educational Theatre Association. Because we share the common language of Lessac (honed and fostered during my time at USM), we have become strong Voice and Acting colleagues."

Rachael Swartz is an actor, director, vocal coach and educator. She serves as Head of Acting for Emory & Henry College and head of E&H's partnership with Barter Theatre (LORT-D). Rachael received her undergraduate degree in Theatre from Baldwin Wallace University and MFA in Theatre Performance from The University of Southern Mississippi. She is on the Theatre Faculty at internationally renowned Interlochen Arts Center in Michigan as an Instructor of Acting. Rachael began performing in regional theatre in 2004. Her stage work includes The 39 Steps (Annabella/Pamela/Margaret), The Sound of Music (Mother Abbess), and Romeo and Juliet (Nurse). She has received Practitioner status in Lessac Kinesensic Voice and Body Training. Proud union member: Actors’ Equity Association and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

 Learn more about the Theatre Graduate Program