Department of Music and Theatre

Outstanding Student Awards

Musical Theatre - Emily Beets


The Chico State Music and Theater Department has been my home for the last 4 years and there are no words to describe how grateful I am for that. The faculty created a safe and caring environment that allowed me to blossom and grow. I truly appreciate all of the guidance and support they have given me and I am a much better performer and human being because of them. I learned so much from each and every professor, each student and each experience. It was an incredible honor to receive the Outstanding Student in Musical Theatre award this year and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Emily Beets

Theatre Arts - Thalia Pearce


I am so grateful to have been selected for this honor. My journey as a Chico State Theatre Arts student has been unique and spanned more than 20 years and because of this, I have had the privilege to be in classes with two different sets of professors. As a returning student in 2020, every instructor has made me feel welcomed and supported as I travelled the slightly non-traditional route to finally earning my BA in Theatre Arts this year. I was grateful to have been granted the opportunity to rejoin the department and the time that I have been here for my second go around has helped me feel confident and empowered to pursue an MFA in scenic design with the goal of starting a new career in the industry and theatre education. Because of the incredible education and encouragement I received from all of the members of this department, I will be attending grad school at Michigan State University in the fall. I couldn’t be taking this step without you all.
Matty Miller, thank you for giving me a warm welcome from day one and for leading this department with grace and care. Jacob Brown, without your enthusiastic support and recognition of my potential as an artist, I would not be on this exciting path. Erin Horst, you have been a genuine source of inspiration and are a wonderful role model, thank you for sparking a new love for theatre history in me. Andrew Zollinger, thank you for giving me a chance to join the crew even though you had no idea who I was. Megan Zollinger, thank you for your patience and support as an advisor. Jami Miller, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be part of the devising process with you and hope that someday, we can do it again! John Crosthwaite, your supportive directing style, and creative and thoughtful instruction has been empowering and enlightening. I would also like to acknowledge those professors from my first years in the department, back in the early 90s, Donna Breed, Randy Wonzong, Gail Holbrook, and Sue Pate. And finally, to Bill Johnson, thank you for welcoming me back and supporting me without hesitation in reclaiming my confidence as an actor and allowing me to come into your classes with a clean slate.
You have all made such a difference in my life and I am going to miss you very much. This chapter feels over too soon if you can believe it. Until next time Chico.
With a grateful heart –
Thalia Pearce

General Music - Natsumi Fry


I would like to thank the MUTA department, I am grateful and humbled to be the recipient of the Outstanding Student Award in General Music. This past academic year was full of irregularity and difficulty due to the world pandemic, but I feel fortunate to still be recognized by the department for my academic work.

Natsumi Fry

Music Industry - Page Whittle


I want to thank the department for the past four years of unrivaled support in helping me to gain the tools I will take with me into my music career. First and foremost I want to thank Dr. David Scholz for being my biggest ally since I started attending Chico State in 2016, by means of giving me wise advice, believing in me, and treating me as a friend. I’d also like to give a special thanks to Dann Sargent and Paul Young who have helped give me vital networking systems and tools to further my education in Recording Arts as well as Music Industry. Without the people that I have met in this program I honestly don’t know where my music career would be today. Last but not least I would like to thank Carmen Gomez for giving me the opportunity to work for SOTA and gain hands on experience with live events.This program means so much to me and will be the thing I attribute most of my success to, so again thank you to the Music Department of Chico State for all of the help, I will never forget about my time here.

Best, Page Whittle

Music Education - Patrick Manning
Recording Arts - Kailo Castilla


My musical journey here at Chico State exceeded all expectations and goals I set 4 years ago. I found a home in the Recording Arts program and met educators and peers who changed my life for the better. To some this may feel like the end, but the skills I acquired here convince me that this is only the beginning. Much love to all my family for helping me chase my dreams, your support has meant the world to me!

Thank you! 

- Kailo Castilla

Congratulations to all 2021 graduates!

May all of your future successes be a reflection of all the hard work and challenges you endured.

Visit the College of Humanities & Fine Arts page to see Graduation Celebration 2021.

Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Award - Daniel Crispino
I am honored to have received the Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Award. The MUTA department plays a huge role in my success in higher education. I have learned so much from all of the faculty and staff to be the best leader that I can be. I want to thank everyone for all of the lessons learned, advice, mentorship, and more than anything, the support and guidance. I am a first generation college student pursuing a degree in music education with minors in agriculture and child development. When I first came in as a first year student, I was nervous and did not know what to expect. I experienced many challenges my first semester. The MUTA department however, made that process much easier for me. They not only helped me be successful in my major courses, but guided me to other resources and checked in with me to see how I was doing. Now I have worked and been involved with many organizations on campus to help other students with their college journey. The MUTA department has played a large role in my college life and I can not thank them enough for all that they do. 
Brooks Thorlaksson HFA Student Leader Award - Leif K Bramer


I am ever so proud and grateful to be this year's recipient of the Brooks Thorlakkson Student Leader Award. Throughout my time here at Chico State, I have learned so much about what means to be a great collaborator and a positive and productive human being. From my time here I have taken away so many valuable skills, knowledge, and most importantly, the ability to inspire others and lead through example/accountability. 
Without the MUTA department, my peers, and especially the faculty and professors here at Chico State who helped nurture my own path of growth and education, I wouldn't have made the large strides to a more complete and in tune version of myself that I am today. From the deepest, most rooted, parts of my soul and heart I give a huge thank you to Brooks Thorlakkson for providing such an amazing award for students (And now a graduate!) like myself who work hard, keep a positive attitude and never give up on the things that make their soul fulfilled. I will continue my path of growth and great works in Massachusetts, where I will be working and collaborating as much as I can with exciting and impactful works and companies! Thank you Chico State, MUTA dept., and everyone for some of the most memorable and impactful years of my life.
BRAVO Award - Brookyln Becker


MUSC 316 Junior Recital(opens in new window)

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to receive the BRAVO award, especially during this semester in the midst of online learning and the pandemic. I felt so encouraged and celebrated when I received the news! It really warmed my heart. I am honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this award. There seems to be a multitude of things I could stress out about as I get my degree; because of your generosity, the stress of covering finances has been significantly reduced!
As I wrap up my junior year at Chico State, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to work with the professors within MUTA. The work that you all put into making your classes work with virtual instruction has been deeply encouraging. My love for music and the teaching profession has grown tremendously because of you all. Thank you for mentoring me and believing in me! As I continue to pursue my undergraduate in music education, I will be reminded of, and grateful for, this award.
With immense gratitude,
Brooklyn Becker

Edith Gould Award - Kian 'Jaya' Betts

portraitWords cannot describe the honor it is to be associated with the Edith Gould award. My
time here at the music department has never been lacking in joy, collaboration, and community.
The music department has worked so hard for me personally, from the receptionists to the
department chair. I know the administration loves and helps each student as they have so
graciously done for me. I am very grateful. I vow that I will continue to make strides into my
future with music, and family at the forefront of my mind.

Kian 'Jaya' Betts

Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Friend Award
Daniel Crispino

Summa Cum Laude —No more than the top 1%
Royee Avitzur Sr. Music Industry, Recording Arts
Colton Woelbing Recording Arts

Cum Laude —No more than the top 5%
Jayna Renee Feldman Music Industry
Natsumi Fry General Music, Recording Arts
Timothy Lowell Motter Recording Arts

Nick Ellena Aspiring Music Educator Award - Hanna Buck


I am humbly honored to be selected for the Nick Ellena Aspiring Music Educator Award. Since
my arrival at Chico State, the Music Department has been a home for me, and I have been
fortunate to meet many wonderful people. Faculty members are committed to each student,
loving and caring for them as they teach and guide them to achieve their goals. The last year
has been difficult and challenging and I am honored to be given this award.
Thank you,

Hanna Buck