Performing Arts Recognizes Seniors with “Celebration of Excellence” | Rowan Today

Each year, the College of Performing Arts recognizes graduating seniors for exceptional performance in their programs with the CPA Medallion Awards. Medallions are awarded to students who exhibit all-around academic and artistic excellence through their contributions to their programs, participation in college activities and productions, and significant recognition beyond regular coursework. 

“This ceremony is a moment for our college and community to come together to commemorate the academic year and celebrate our talented students and their accomplishments,” said College of Performing Arts Dean, Dr. Rick Dammers.

During “A Celebration of Excellence,” medallion award recipients will perform and present an excerpt of their work in instrumental and vocal performance, theater, dance, music industry and music education. 

The 2023 College of Performing Arts Medallion Award recipients:

Hope Friddell – Dr. Barbara Chamberlain Award for Outstanding Excellence in Performing Arts Education: 
Vocal Music Education major, Hope Friddell will receive this year’s award for Performing Arts Education. The Atco, New Jersey native recently performed at the Dr. Eugene Simpson Memorial Concert with the Rowan Concert Choir and also performed with the chamber ensemble, Voces.  

With a passion for teaching and love of music making, Friddell is a member of Rowan’s chapter of the National Association for Music Educators (NAFME) and secretary for the American Choral Directors Association. She also served as a vocal counselor for the Music Department’s Summer Music Camp. 

“Simply put, to become a music teacher, it takes perseverance, kindness, diligence, and true musicianship. Hope has displayed these attributes at every point,” says Dr. Adrian Barnes, music education professor. Barnes describes her as a model for the type of music educators Rowan wants to share with the world. 

Upon graduating, Friddell wants to be in a music classroom teaching as soon as possible and hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Master of Music Education. 

Erica Gerold – Phillip Graneto Excellence in Theatre Award
Erica Gerold combined her love of the arts with public relations and will complete both a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Rowan’s Ric Edelman College of Communications and Creative Arts this May. With concentrations in musical theater, acting, directing and theater education, Gerold has performed in numerous productions in her time at Rowan, including the premiere of “Girl in a Striped Dress: the Holocaust Story of Rosalie Lebovic Simon” written by faculty member Dr. Anthony Hostetter. 

Gerold is involved in several organizations including Campus Players, Alpha Psi Omega and Rowan Lab Theatre. She also works as an Admissions Ambassador on campus and interned with the Wilma Theatre in her hometown of Philadelphia. 

“This graduating senior will settle for nothing less than the best she can do in any class, production, or leadership position,” said Hostetter. “She is a strong student leader who has served the department and her fellow students competently, quietly and without complaint. She has a promising, bright future ahead of her.” 

Gerold will also receive the Anthony J. Fulginiti Gold Medallion for Excellence in Public Relations. She plans to move to Jersey City to pursue public relations and theatre professionally, and currently has a job offer from a marketing firm. 

Lianna Johnson – W. Clarke Pfleeger Award for Musical Excellence 
Rowan Opera Company’s Musetta in the spring production “Portraits of La Bohèmee,” Lianna Johnson is this year’s musical excellence award winner. The award is given to an exceptional performer with a high GPA who is an outstanding representation of the Music Department. 

The vocal music performance major also performed as Adele in Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, Mrs. Wordsworth from Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring and Zerlina from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She also serves as the soprano II section leader in Rowan’s Concert Choir and as a Community Assistant on campus. 

“Lianna exemplifies the focus, practice ethic, scholarly mind and performance standard required for the Bachelor of Music in Performance,” says Marian Steiber, head of the vocal division and director of the Rowan Opera Company. 

Johnson plans to pursue her graduate degree for performance and pedagogy upon completing her BM this May. 

Eric James Krassow – Dr. Barbara Chamberlain Award for Outstanding Excellence in Music Production 
With a long standing passion and ear for creating music, Eric James Krassow will receive this year’s award for excellence in music production. After pursuing music for more than thirteen years, the senior from Monroeville, New Jersey is determined to perfect his craft and is consistently seen in the recording studios and labs on campus. During his time at Rowan, he completed a discography of four albums under his artist name “Krassow.” His works, “Odyssey”, “Diabolus in Musica”, “The Long Halloween”, and “Encore” are available on streaming platforms. 

“Eric has elevated so many aspects of the Music Industry program,” says Mathieu Gendreau, Director of Music Industry. “You could see him engineering in studios, running live sound, helping students with projects and supporting faculty and events. His service to our department has been outstanding.” 

Since 2021, Krassow has worked as a student worker in the department, involved in extensive studio maintenance, recordings, live events and training, demonstrating a high level of professionalism while maintaining a fun and high-energy working environment for his peers. In addition, Krassow works at the Rowan Recording Studio, LiveNation and interns with Cambridge Sound Studios. 

Upon completing his degree, Krassow plans to work as an Assistant Engineer with Cambridge Sound Studios, stagehand at Reid Sound, and upsell worker with LiveNation while continuing to work on recording projects of his own. 

Mattie Ballard-Millet – Dr. Barbara Chamberlain Award of Outstanding Excellence in Singing 
Mattie Ballard-Millet has loved singing as long as she can remember and this year, she is the recipient of the award for excellence in singing. A native of Biolxi, Mississippi, Ballard-Millet has performed in a number of CPA productions including, Heathers: The Musical (Ms. Fleming), Plum Bun (The Actress/Ensemble), and Equus (Dora Strang). Recently, she performed as Cinderella’s mother in Into the Woods at Pitman’s Broadway Theatre.  For her senior project, she is co-directing, with classmate and good friend Hannah Kittrell, and performing in the In the Mood for Love Cabaret to fundraise for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

On campus, Ballard-Millet is a member of Campus Players and Alpha Psi Omega and works as an Admissions Ambassador. 

“Mattie has been a stellar student in her years at Rowan,” says Dr. Chris Roche, director of musical theatre. “She approaches her vocal work as a science and has found a way to get the mix just perfectly.” 

After graduating, Ballard-Millet plans to move closer to New York City to pursue a career in theatre. 

Stephen A. Minder – Joseph Robinette Excellence in Theatre and Dance Award
Stephen A. Minder has been involved in theatrical productions from the age of 7, assisting with sets for his local community theatre group in Medford, New Jersey. During his time in the program, Minder has worked on every Main Stage production and many student run productions and projects. He also designed and programmed lighting for Rowan’s Marie Rader Presenting Series shows.  

Minder is a member of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honor society, Campus Players and a founding member of the Photography Club. He is the SGA senator for the United States Institute of Technical Theater (USITT) and has worked his way up from master electrician to designer and lighting supervisor for Tohill Theater. 

“Stephen is one of the most accomplished lighting console programmers and lighting designers I have ever had the honor to mentor,” says Robert Thorpe, resident lighting designer and theater manager. “He not only earned this award, he deserves this award and I look forward to seeing what magic he will create in the professional world.” 

This May, Minder will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts with concentrations in Theatrical Design and Technology and a minor in Marketing after which he plans to pursue freelance lighting design and programming work.

Bryan O’Lone – Jacobs Music Award
A candidate for a Master of Music degree, Bryan O’Lone is the recipient of the Jacob Music Award. Winner of the Rowan University Concerto Competition, O’Lone has performed Piano Concerto in g minor of Sergei Prokofiev with Jiannan Cheng conducting Rowan University Symphony Orchestra,  Prokofiev First Piano Concerto with Wesley Broadnax conducting Newark Symphony Orchestra and as a collaborative pianist in performances with Tim Schwarz, South Jersey Choral Directors’ Association, and Northern Lights Music Festival in Minnesota.

This year, O’Lone will play harp and keyboard for the Rowan Opera Company’s spring production, Portraits of La Bohème. He also serves as a piano study teacher at Rowan’s Community Music School. 

”This award is only presented in years when we have an exceptional performer. Bryan brings his exceptional level of pianism to Rowan, both technical and musical. His knowledge of the repertoire, and his worth ethic make him an obvious candidate for this award,” says Veda Zuponcic, Department of Music professor. 

O’Lone plans to continue his studies to reach his full potential as a pedagogue and performer. 

Asia Todd – Ann B. Ward Creative Achievement in Fine and Performing Arts Award 
Involved and in love with the arts since the 6th grade, Asia Todd is the recipient of the achievement award in fine and performing arts. During her time at Rowan, the senior from Linden, New Jersey, performed in several productions including, The Penny Executive (various characters), Melancholy Play (Frances), A Feminine Ending (Director), and Ways of White Folk (Assistant Director/Mama). 

Todd is an active member in Rowan’s Campus Players and Alpha Psi Omega, and works as a production assistant for Creative on Campus, a branch of a nonprofit known as the Better Give Back Foundation. 

“Asia exemplified the best the Department of Theatre and Dance strives to produce,” says Tom Fusco, technical director, “She is a well-rounded, hardworking student who has used our resources to become an educated, inspiring young artist with a massive amount of potential.” 

After completing her degree this May, Todd hopes to spend time traveling and working on freelance projects along the way. 

In addition to the CPA Medallion Award recipients, the College of Performings Arts would also like to recognize Sabraina Vargas, recipient of the Rowan University Robert D. Bole Humanitarian Award. 


The Robert D. Bole Humanitarian Award is presented to an individual whose lifestyle and activities display compassion and concern for the well-being of others, evident in their involvement and service to the University. This year’s recipient is Sabrina Vargas, Dance Major from the College of Performing Arts.  

Passionate about the arts and using them to teach others, Vargas is involved in several organizations on campus including ASCEND/EOF, CHAMP and New Life Dance Ministry. She also volunteers at Glassboro’s Boys and Girls Club as a dance instructor. She performed in several productions including, Portraits of Our People Overcoming Unfair Treatment- U GOOD F.A.M, SJICR Cultural Organization Fair, Black His and Hers Showcase, Mr. Rhomeo Pageant, NAACP Image Awards, Hoofers Club Fundraiser, and 7 Last Words New Life Ministry Good Friday Event. This past January, Vargas traveled to Delhi, India on a life-changing community service trip which furthered her love of service and travel. 

“Sabrina is passionate about the well-being of others. Her dedicated work with a variety of organizations including ASCEND-EOF and the Glassboro Boys and Girls Club broadens and diversifies Rowan Dance,” says Dr. Leslie Elkins, coordinator of dance. 

The senior from Mays Landing, New Jersey will complete her Bachelor of Arts in Dance this May and will continue her education in the Nonprofit Leadership program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. One day, Vargas hopes to found a non-profit organization for performing arts and community development.  

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