Stephen F. Austin State University


SFA College of Fine Arts Dean's Awards recognizes students' potential

April 18, 2018
Dan R. Casso, Madeline Castillo, Marilyn Chatary and Sidney Lowell

The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts will recognize four students during the presentation of the annual Dean's Awards at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

Madeline Castillo, art major from League City; Marilyn Chatary, music education major from Houston; Dan R. Casso, music education major from Amarillo; and Sidney Lowell, theatre major from Huffman, were selected by the faculty of their respective schools on the basis of their potential to further develop their artistic goals and serve as role models, according to Dr. A.C. "Buddy" Himes, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

The Dean's Awards not only recognize the recipients for what they have already accomplished, but the awards are also designed to inspire them to reach deep from within to aspire for the ideal, Himes explained. The awards were established by the Dean's Circle, an external support organization of community members founded in 2008 and "dedicated, in part, to nurturing potential young artists within the College of Fine Arts," Himes said.

Castillo, who will receive the Ed and Gwen Cole Dean's Award in Art, is a sophomore from League City, Texas, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in metals and jewelry. Castillo enjoys volunteer work and is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of America in which she achieved the highest honors of earning Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. She is a member of the SFA Girl Scout Alumnae Association. She participated in Art Day, the Art Alliance service initiative for high school students, as well as other Art Alliance activities. She has been on the Dean's List for the last three semesters and is a member of the School of Honors. She is working diligently towards her goal of graduating as a University Scholar. Castillo plans to participate in a study-abroad program next summer and continue her studies in a graduate program to further cultivate her passion for the arts.

Chatary, who will receive the Naioma Shannon Dean's Award in Music, is a junior music education major from Houston, Texas. In her studies at SFA, she has been a member of the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra of the Pines, The Lumberjack Marching Band and Bassoon Ensemble. She represented these ensembles twice at the Texas Music Educators' Association convention in San Antonio. Additionally, she is the operations manager for The Lumberjack Marching Band and works in the band office as a student assistant. During the summer, Chatary is involved in the SFA Summer Band Camps, first working as a counselor and now as an office assistant. Chatary has been awarded various Alumni Association scholarships, the J.T. Cox Band Scholarship, Pi Kappa Lambda High Achieving Sophomore Scholarship, and two four-year scholarships for Academic Excellence in the School of Music. She has been on the President's List since her first semester at SFA.

Casso, who will receive the Dr. Robert G. Sidnell Memorial Dean's Award in Music Education, is a junior music education major from Amarillo. In his time at SFA, Casso has served as principal trumpet in the Wind Ensemble and the Orchestra of the Pines. He has also served as the solo chair in the Swingin' Axes jazz band, a co-section leader in The Lumberjack Marching Band, a member of the Roarin' Buzzsaws Basketball Pep Band, and an original member of the Empyrean Trumpet Ensemble, which performed in the 2017 and 2018 National Trumpet Competitions and at the 2017 TMEA convention. In addition to the Sidnell Memorial Dean's Award, Casso has received the Hubert A. "Butch" Almany Band Scholarship, the Zach Brittain Jazz Scholarship, the Young Artist Music Scholarship and the SFA Academic Excellence Scholarship. These scholarships have assisted him in pursuing his dream of becoming a better musician and educator.

Lowell, who will receive the George and Peggy Schmidbauer Dean's Award in Theatre, is a junior theatre major from Huffman. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in acting and directing. While at SFA, she has been involved in many theatre productions, including acting in "(Biedermann and) The Firebugs," "The Miracle Worker," "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Baby with the Bathwater" and "Pride and Politics." She has also worked on technical crews for several shows, including "The Skin of Our Teeth," "Twister" and "Intimate Apparel." She is a member of the devised group Speak Up. She is also a member of the Beta Phi cast of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society. As a member of this organization, she is active in the community and has participated in service projects to help better both the theatre department and the outside community. Those endeavors included helping to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey and working at social events for new students in the School of Theatre. Lowell has also remained on the President's List since her first semester at SFA.

The awards are made possible because the Dean's Circle believes in investing in the future and is willing to contribute and raise the money needed to fund these $3,000 individual awards each year for a total of $12,000, Himes said. For more information about the Dean's Circle, contact Himes at or at (936) 468-2801.

By Robbie Goodrich
University Marketing Communications
(936) 468-2605