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NMSU Theatre Department recognizes seniors, season’s stars


“It’s where I found my passion and my life,” New Mexico State University graduating senior Jenna Ivey said Thursday night, May 14, at the NMSU Theatre Department’s awards ceremony, conducted remotely on Zoom.

The Theatre Department’s 2021 graduates also include Zulema Loya, Yamilex Holguin, Daniel Miller, Nick Check, Xodia Choate, Samuel Alvelais and Isaac Lucero.

Ivey and Check were awarded senior scholarships from ASTC, presented remotely by Department Head Wil Kilroy.

Other winners during the event:

  • Outstanding community member: Denise Welsh, the president and long-time member of the American Southwest Theatre Company, the nonprofit that supports the NMSU Theatre Department. Welsh was also named this year’s outstanding ASTC board member.
  • Outstanding student stage manager: Jazmen Escarcega, “The Wolves.”
  • Actor in a supporting role: Nick Check, “Christmas Carol” and Ben Muckenthaler, “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
  • Lead actor: Jenna Ivey and Billie De Billie V, both “Spelling Bee,” and Yamilex Holguin, “Tomas and the Library Lady”
  • Best ensemble: The cast of “Spelling Bee”
  • Best student choreographer: Brianna Horvath for “Spelling Bee”
  • Outstanding student crew member: Imani Caldwell, sound in “Christmas Carol”
  • Bet student costumer designer: Yamilex Holguin, “Spelling Bee”
  • Best student sound design and for best lighting design: Daniel Miller (full-season award)
  • Best student scenic design: Samantha Armstrong, “Spelling Bee”
  • Bravo Award (to a senior with at least a 3.5 GPA who balanced academic excellence and theatre participation): Xodia Choate
  • Hershel Zahn Outstanding Theatre Student: Yamilex Holguin and Jenna Ivy
  • Faculty award, costume star: Yamilex Holguin
  • Faculty award, musical star: Jenna Ivy
  • Faculty award, tech star: Daniel Miller
  • Faculty award, acting star: Riley Merritt and Esther Rogge

The Ember Theatre Company, a student group, presented these student awards:

  • Giraffe award (taking risks): Riley Merritt
  • Ram (volunteerism): Timothy Ecton
  • Beaver (unique style): Max De Jong
  • Clown Fish (making people laugh): Gus Sanchez
  • Butterfly (most outgoing): Esther Rogge
  • Hen (mothering others): Jazmen Escarcega
  • Elephant (biggest heart): Amani Caldwell
  • Golden Retriever (most positive freshman): Josh Jackson
  • Duck (freshman who traveled the farthest to attend NMSU): Ben Muckenthaler
  • Owl (dedication to education): Xodia Choate and Daniel Miller
  • Panda (basically slept at the theatre): Jordan Jaramillo
  • Turtle (spoke with purpose and meaning): Zulema Loya
  • Songbird (music student): Kamryn Neill

Several performances of “Spelling Bee” were cancelled by the public health order banning large gatherings in March, which also led to cancellation of “The Tempest,” which had been scheduled to open in April.