Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellows

Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellows

These fellowships, funded by the Hixson-Lied Endowment, are given to a select number of graduate students in each academic unit of the College. Applications undergo rigorous evaluation by members of the graduate faculty, who look for evidence of outstanding past achievement and the potential for excellence in scholarship and creative activity at the highest level.

  • The award level varies by School and is in addition to the graduate assistant stipends already provided by the university.
  • Individual academic units set additional threshold admissions criteria beyond those that are normally required for graduate assistantships.
  • The Hixson-Lied Fellowship can continue for a maximum of three successive years.
  • Students must be pursuing one of the graduate degrees offered by the College.
  • In the School of Art, Art History & Design, these awards are given as a stipend and not as a fellowship.

For information about other fellowships (Departmental and University-wide), contact the respective department within the college and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Current recipients of the Hixson-Lied Fellowships for 2023-2024:

School of Art, Art History & Design

Casey Beck

Casey Beck

Casey Beck is currently a second year Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is studying ceramics. His current research focuses on the process of soda firing, which utilizes soda ash, or sodium carbonate, and its volatilization inside the nearly 2300°F gas-fired kiln to glaze his wares. The wares he makes are utilitarian in nature and encourage a dialogue between user, process, material and self. 

After completion of his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2019, Beck spent two years living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. During this time, he worked as a studio potter, researching soda firing, worked in the Sales Gallery at Northern Clay Center (NCC) in Minneapolis and taught classes. 

Beck has been a resident artist at the Cub Creek Foundation in rural Virginia and was awarded the 2020 Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant through NCC. Outside of the studio, Beck enjoys discovering new and sometimes old music, camping, thinking about the studio, and using pottery made by his friends, peers and other folks he has only known through the wonderful world of the internet.


Jewelya Coffey

Jewelya Coffey was raised in Aurora, Missouri, and later in South Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, in 2015, and worked as an illustrator and product designer for several years. Throughout this time, she continued pursuing her own artistic goals, which eventually led her to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing.

Jewelya’s work is informed by memory, religion, trauma, childhood and life in the rural South, among many others. Her paintings have a symbolic, often dream-like quality to them, melding these disparate influences into a single, unique aesthetic.

She is a firm believer in the ability of the arts and education to empower, heal and promote empathy; upon completion of her degree, she will begin a new career as an art professor.

Matthew Meyer

Matthew Meyer is a contemporary creator from Illinois who investigates ideas of the human experience, specifically that of Black people and the minority of America. By drawing from social issues and blissful moments of life, he creates with the intent to inform, educate and inspire. He engages viewers of all kinds by having his practice be of works that seem sort of ambiguous.

His work has been shown across the United States and in other countries, where he has earned multiple awards in both 2D and 3D areas. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is currently on track to obtain his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Ani Sargsyan

Ani Sargsyan is an artist from Vanadzor, Armenia. Receiving her International Baccalaureate diploma from United World College Dilijan, Sargsyan continued her education at Luther College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts. She is currently in her first year of the Master of Fine Arts program in painting and drawing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Sargsyan’s works are grounded in motifs, patterns and symbols from her Armenian culture and history. These patterns intertwine with the figures in her works to create a reflection of Armenia in the modern day. Since Armenia has recently found itself in a delicate and unstable situation, Sargsyan believes that creating work that encompassing her culture is important.

Glenn Korff School of Music

Ray Brown

Ray Brown is attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as a master’s GTA in trombone performance. He works with Dr. Ian Rutherford in the History of Rock class and teaches the trombone section of brass skills.

Brown finished his Bachelor of Music Education at Drake University in Des Moines, under the direction of Robert Parker and Matthew Halbert. There he performed in numerous ensembles on and off campus, notably with the campus Wind Ensemble, Orchestra and Jazz I groups. During his time at Drake, he has played in master classes for Mark Cantrell, Kyle Gordon and Jason Hausbach. In November, Brown won a spot in Drake’s Honors Recital competition.

Natalie Francel-Stone

Natalie Francel-Stone

Natalie Francel-Stone is a bassoonist currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in the Glenn Korff School of Music. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Francel-Stone earned her Master of Music from Wichita State University and her Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University.

A Bobbie Bastian Musical Arts Fellow, a Mary Wurth Foundation Performance Arts Fellow, and a Lillian Graduate Performance Fellow, she has also served on the music faculty at Southwestern College and Union College.

An avid chamber performer, Francel-Stone was an integral member in the formation of the Valley Chamber Ensembles, a grant-winning Los Angeles based non-profit chamber ensemble, and was a member of artistic advisory board. Additionally, she has served as Principal Bassoon in the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Delano Chamber Players and Crown Uptown Music Theater Orchestra. She went on to participate in the formation of numerous chamber ensembles and chamber events in the Great Plains and Chicago areas, including Stix Bassoon Society, The Wichita Salon Series and the N*Cinq Wind Quintet.

Francel-Stone is a published author and gallery artist who has been featured in multiple national juried exhibitions and has served as an ongoing mentor artist for the National Arthritis Foundation, and she ardently strives to explore the complex relationship between a spectrum of arts disciplines to enhance the musical experience for both listener and performer. She believes in blurring the lines between audience and performer through interactive performances, unconventional settings and community outreach, to bring music out of the concert hall and to the people.


Caden Hirsch

Caden Hirsch is pursuing a Master of Music in music theory. He has been involved in music his whole life, participating in several choirs and other ensembles and playing multiple instruments. Hirsch graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in December 2022 with a bachelor’s in music composition and a bachelor’s in music theory. His compositional style and theoretical interests overlap in many areas. Hirsch’s theory interests sprout from many disciplines of music as well. His focuses currently surround theory pedagogy studies, but he also has interests in film scores and symphonic works, as well as music therapy and overtone/frequency-based concepts.

After completing his master’s, Hirsch plans to pursue a doctorate degree in music theory as well, and hopes to teach as well as research music theory and other related areas at the collegiate level in the future.

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth (Ellie) Johnson has been a music educator in Nebraska since 2015. She received her B.A. in vocal music education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she toured and recorded as an alto with The Concordia Choir under the direction of Dr. Rene Clausen and Michael Smith. She received her M.M. in music education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Ellie has her Orff Level 1 and 2 certifications through UNL and is eager to pursue further certification to complete Orff and Kodaly training through Nebraska universities. 

In her time teaching in the public school system, Ellie has worked primarily with middle school students in both general music and choral settings. She has directed youth musical theater productions, provided small group and solo instruction, and directed and choreographed competitive show choir. Ellie has been a staff member at SNJ Studios in Millard, and sings as a mezzo with Omaha's professional chorus, Resonance, under the direction of Barron Breland and in frequent collaboration with the Omaha Symphony. She previously served as soprano/alto section leader and librarian for Resonance. 

Ellie is excited to continue her work at UNL as a Ph.D. student focusing on music education and is grateful for opportunities like the Hixson-Lied Fellowship that allow her to pursue a doctoral degree while supporting her family in Omaha.

John Kosch

John Kosch is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in composition at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His works fuse pop melodies and jazz chords with the intricate rhythms and textures of concert music. Kosch has received several honors for his compositions, including: The Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, a Student Downbeat Award, first place in the NAfME Young Composers Competition, a merit award from the Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition, and an honorable mention from Austin Classical Guitar.

He is a two-time finalist for the American Prize in composition, and his works have been selected for performances at regional and national Society of Composers conferences, as well as the Brevard Music Festival, Charlotte New Music Festival, and the Cortona Sessions for New Music. Before pursuing his doctorate, Kosch was a full-time instrumental music teacher for several schools in central and eastern Nebraska. He is currently a graduate teaching assistant for the Glenn Korff School of Music and an adjunct instructor at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.

JoAnne Lundahl

JoAnne Lundahl is a clarinetist from Wakefield, Nebraska, currently pursuing a D.M.A. at the Glenn Korff School of Music, where she is studying with Dr. Diane Barger. Lundahl received her undergraduate education at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, where she studied with Dr. Karl Kolbeck and graduated with degrees in Pre-K-12 music education and music performance. 

Lundahl completed her Master of Music degree at the University of South Dakota, where she studied with Dr. Luis Víquez. While studying at USD, she assisted with the clarinet studio, The SOUND of USD Marching Band, the wind bands and the orchestra program as a graduate assistant, and had the opportunity to serve as the clarinet faculty member for the University of South Dakota Summer Music Camp from the years 2021-2023. 

Performance opportunities include being selected to represent Wayne State College at the Nebraska Music Educators Association Showcase Recital in 2018, principal clarinet for the Nebraska and South Dakota Intercollegiate Bands, two-time winner of the Cherokee Iowa Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Concerto Competition, two honorable mentions in the University of South Dakota’s Concerto Competition and winner of the South Dakota MTNA Young Artist Woodwind Competition in 2022.

Ruth Moreno Calderon

Born in Costa Rica, Ruth Moreno Calderon recently graduated from her Master’s degree in oboe performance from The University of Southern Mississippi with Dr. Galit Kaunitz. Prior coming to the United States, Moreno Calderon studied music performance at The University of Costa Rica with M.M. Jose Angel Abrego. Moreno Calederon is currently pursuing her DMA degree at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln with Dr. William McMullen.

She has performed with several ensembles such as the Young Orchestra of Costa Rica, Mahler Ensemble, The University of Costa Rica Wind Ensemble, The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, William Carey Orchestra, The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Meridian Symphony Orchestra, among others.

While she was an undergraduate student at The University of Costa Rica, Moreno Calderon received an Academic Excellence Award for the 2019 Academic period. She was also a recipient of the University of Southern Mississippi Dean’s List in the same year.

Javier Barreto Olaya

Javier Barreto Olaya

Javier Barreto Olava is a double bass player born in Honda, Colombia. He earned a bachelor's in music education from the Conservatorio del Tolima (Colombia) studying with Edgar Alarcón, and his master's in music performance degree from the University of Southern Mississippi under Dr. Marcos Machado. Currently, he is pursuing a D.M.A. degree at the University of Nebraska with Dr. Hans Sturm, where he is recipient of a GTA and fellowship.

He has participated in different music festivals in Colombia, Brazil and the United States, receiving master classes with Catalin Rotaru, Thierry Barbé, Gabriele Ragghianti, Alex Hanna, Jeremy McCoy.

Also, he was part of the OAcademy 2022, in the studio of Dominic Seldis, awarded with a graduate certificate in music performance and digital creation. 

Joshua Pitt

Joshua Pitt is a baritone from Racine, Wisconsin, who is currently pursuing his Master of Music in vocal  performance at the Glenn Korff School of Music. He recently graduated from Western Illinois University where he received his Bachelor's in vocal performance. 

While working on his undergraduate degree, Pitt would compete and place in several vocal  competitions. These include  being awarded first and second place in both the National and  Regional NATS Vocal Competitions in the Classical, Musical Theatre and Spiritual categories. Pitt also won the 2022 WIU Concerto Aria Competition and the 2020 Racine Symphony Orchestra Competition. 

Last Spring, Pitt debuted the lead role of Krakamiche in Pauline Viardot’s “The Last Sorcerer.” This  was the first time this rarely performed opera has been performed by a college opera program in the  United States.

Elisa Ramon

Elisa Ramon

Elisa Ramon is a native Italian soprano, vocologist and diction coach. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in vocal pedagogy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she serves as a graduate teaching assistant, teaching diction classes (English, Italian, and German) as well as voice lessons. Ramon holds a Diploma in voice and an M.Mus. in Music Education from the Cesare Pollini Conservatory of Padua (Italy) and a B.A. in Musicology from the University of Padua (Italy). In addition, she is an SVI Trained Vocologist, a licensed teacher of Italian, and she is certified in Levels I, II, III of Somatic Voicework™ for CCM. Prior to moving to Nebraska, she taught applied voice and diction classes at the University of North Texas and PennWest Edinboro University.

As a scholar, Ramon focuses on Italian diction and its application to improve legato singing. Combining her vocal and musical expertise with a profound technical and aesthetical knowledge of the Italian language, diction, and phonetics, she has been researching and developing techniques to specifically support anglophone singers in achieving vocal comfort while singing in Italian. She is also the creator of The Italian IPA Project, a free online video repository of IPA transcriptions. Likewise, she actively performs and researches Ibero-Latin music, promoting the application of Spanish in the voice studio. 

Ramon has been primarily active as a soloist and recitalist, with performances in such venues as Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, St. Francis' Basilica in Assisi, St. Anthony's Basilica in Padua, and the Basilica of Frari in Venice. 

An advocate of the 20th-Century Italian Art Song, she has also performed works by lesser-known composers, including Omizzolo, Lincetto, Bossi, and she premiered the CD recording of the art songs by the Apulian composer Michele Bellucci, with pianist Davide Osellame. As Operaperta Duo with guitarist and musicologist Alessio Olivieri, she has performed throughout Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. The duo has premiered works by such composers as Mark Delpriora and recorded a CD featuring Spanish and Italian songs (Operaperta Duo: Spanish Popular Songs, Venetian Boat Songs, Neapolitan Songs, 2012).

Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

Brad LaMotte

Brad LaMotte is currently a third-year graduate student pursuing an MFA in Technical Production and Scenic Design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. Prior to returning to the classroom, he dedicated his time to teaching and mentoring students at Temple High School in Temple, Texas.

LaMotte's professional experience spans both scenic design and technical direction. His work has been featured at Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Baylor Theatre, Illumination Fireworks and various community theaters across Central Texas. One of his recent standout achievements was successfully planning and executing the regional premiere of "The Play That Goes Wrong" in May 2023.

Outside of his theatrical pursuits, LaMotte takes immense pride in being a devoted father to his two lovely daughters, Charlotte and Penelope. Their unwavering support is a constant source of inspiration as he embarks on this exciting journey. He is eager to share the opportunities this path will bring and is thrilled to have his family along for the ride.

LaMotte expresses deep gratitude for the grants and fellowships that have paved the way for these enriching experiences, benefiting not only him but also his family.


Hunter Rock

Hunter Rock

Hunter Rock is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree in design and technical production in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. He is from Wilmington, North Carolina. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW). 

In addition to his studies, Rock has worked as wardrobe and stage crew at the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Kennedy Wilcher

Kennedy Wilcher

Kennedy Wilcher is a Louisiana native currently in her second year as a Master of Fine Arts candidate in lighting design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She received a Bachelor of Arts, Honors in Theatre as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus on International Affairs at Centenary College of Louisiana. 

She recently spent her summer at Hangar Theatre Company in Ithaca, New York, as the Assistant Lighting Supervisor and the Head Electrician for KIDSHOWS. She avidly enjoys reading, painting, and hammocking. Wilcher looks forward to this upcoming school year working with Lincoln Community Playhouse and Nebraska Repertory Theatre.