Dance, theatre students win Outstanding Honors Contract Award

Fiona Scruggs (left) and Matthew Cibak (right) pose with Dr. Niels Christensen (center) as they receive their awards

Fiona Scruggs (left) and Matthew Cibak (right) pose with Dr. Niels Christensen (center) as they receive their awards

On Friday March 23, 2018, two students in the School of Dance and Theatre were awarded the 2018 Outstanding Honors Contract Award from the Honors Academy. The award is given to honors students who complete an honors contract that exemplifies the creative pursuit of academic and professional goals, along with a demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning.

The students selected were Fiona Scruggs from the Department of Dance, and Matthew Cibak from the Department of Theatre and Cinema. Both students worked with faculty mentors through the application process and completing the requirements of the award.

Scruggs’ project was a research paper about Josephine Baker which explored her influence in both performing arts and social justice through her varying roles as a dancer, civil rights activist, spy, and children’s author. Scruggs’ faculty mentor, Deborah McLaughlin, stated, “Fiona continually challenges herself with opportunities to further her research and studies. As a result of her Honors paper, Fiona realized the potential to go further with her research on Josephine Baker, which she will be conducting in France this summer. The result will be an Honors capstone performance inspired by Baker’s life presented in the fall.”

Scruggs also received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship grant which will help fund the work she is planning in France this summer. 

Cibak’s project focused on Michael Chekhov, a twentieth century Russian-American actor whose acting theories continue to be studied and used by modern-day performers. He chose to combine research, writing, performance and improvisation as Michael Chekhov. Robyn Berg, Cibak’s faculty mentor, stated, “At each of our check-ins during the months leading up to the performance, Matthew was very prepared.  On the big day, multiple faculty members came to support him and went out of their way to express their pride in his work afterwards.  Personally, I was most impressed with his Q & A session as Chekhov—as this challenge requires real knowledge of the topic—not mere recitation of memorized material.”

Dr. Niels Christensen, Director of the Honors Academy, said of the winners, “both of their contracts really got to the heart of what we hope to see in honors. Their work displayed a great balance of ambition and intellectual curiosity.”

Mar 28, 2018
Jason S. Hutchens, Ed.D.