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The Latest Shout-Outs: Westphal Student, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Achievements

Celebrate the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in this round-up of recent accomplishments.

February 13, 2024

Faculty & Staff 

Associate teaching professor of Dance Jennifer Morley's book, The Pilates Teacher's Toolkit, will be published by Human Kinetics in Fall of 2024.

Associate professor of Architecture Daniel Coslett received a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society for archival research on French-colonial churches in North Africa, to be conducted later this year in Rome. Coslett published the research article "Monuments, Memories, and Conversion: Commemorating Saint Louis of France in Colonial Carthage" in the December 2023 issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, a premier journal in the field of architectural and urban history.

June He, Assistant Professor from Product Design, has established a long-term partnership with external firm ClearVision Optical, a New York-based eyewear company with 75 years of history, to explore how to use modern technology and multi-colorway 3D nylon printer to support eyewear prototyping and customized production. The firm since has created a Co-op position for Product Design students and donated a monetary gift to sponsor the course development. Currently, a scholarship is under development for the Product Design Students.

Students from Prof. June He's 2023 Fall course "Aging, Design & Entrepreneurship" were honored with the competitive "Age-Friendly Design Award". This award comes with the exciting opportunity for a six-month residency at the Baiada Institute, coupled with valuable mentorship to support them in pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Teaching professor of Cinema & Television John Avarese recorded a live jazz album with three other musicians (including Film & Television adjunct Joe DiVita). The session and 10-camera video was engineered by Music Industry assistant teaching professor Ryan Moys.

Architecture adjunct Anthony Assetto was the Project Architect responsible for design and documentation for Golf House Road in Haverford, with Peter Zimmerman Architects.

Associate professor of Design Alphonso McClendon, author of Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation, authored “It’s a Black Thing, American Fashion Wants to Understand” in Volume 5, Issue 1 of Fashion Studies (Toronto Metropolitan University’s Centre for Fashion & Systemic Change). McClendon was invited to Toronto, Canada on January the 15 to launch Volume 5 with an in-conversation dialogue moderated by Nigel Lezama, associate professor, Fashion Studies & Inclusion, The Creative School, Toronto Metropolitan University.

Associate professor Brea Heidelberg was featured in an issue of NASAA Notes. The article, Rhode Island: Initiating Equity Work Program, highlights the Initiating Equity Work for Small and Volunteer-Led Organizations Program, a capacity building initiative tailored for organizations committed to equity, facilitated by Heidelberg.

Assistant professor of Digital Media Ari Gass has a new publication out in Media-N, in a special issue on "Trans New Media as Embodied Practice." The essay is titled "Glitch as a Trans Representational Mode in Video Games."

Assistant professor of Cinema & Television Ben Kalina completed a 22-minute documentary titled "Higher Ground: Restorative Science and Sustainability." The film is about flooding in the neighborhood of Eastwick in Southwest Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., and the efforts of those communities and a lab at Drexel to find long-term solutions.

Photography professor Andrea Modica opened the exhibition “Catholic Girl / January 1 / As We Wait” at Vernissage L’Artiere Bookshop in Bologna, Italy.

Jeff Apruzzese, assistant professor of Music Industry, was quoted in a Jan. 26 Philadelphia Inquirer story about the biggest concerts coming to Philadelphia this year and the rising cost of tickets to them. Link to story 

Assistant professor of Urban Strategy Andrew Zitcer announced Democracy as Creative Practice: Weaving a Culture of Civic Life, an edited collection to be published by Routledge by the third quarter of 2024 as part of their Community Development Research and Practice Series. 

Valerie Ifill, assistant professor of dance, and Raja Schaar,associate professor of product design, both in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, are co-principal investigators (along with Michelle Rogers and Ayana Allen-Handy), on "STEAMing through Dance: A Multimodal Exploration of Black Girls’ Intersectional Identities and STEAM Literacies within a Transdisciplinary STEAM Counterspace." The project was recently awarded a grant of $341,606 by the Spencer Foundation.

Students & Alumni


Product Design student Gemma Lascano was commissioned by Philadelphia250 to create a Revolutionary Action Figure in honor of Philadelphia's new mayor, Cherelle Parker. Lascano's design includes a kit and instructions for children to assemble as an educational craft project.

Four students in the design & merchandising program of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design – Allie Gress, Aly Chew, Krysta Mendoza, and Rajvi Dharashi – are winners of the 2024 National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation University Challenge. The students presented a case study to leaders from retail’s biggest companies, winning a $30,000 scholarship to divide among the team.

Kimberly Sacramone, IIDA, LEED AP (Interior Design ‘92) was appointed senior vice president of Brokerage at JLL, where she will be based in the Parsippany office. Ms. Sacramone is the former principal and managing director of HLW New Jersey with over 30 years of experience. She has been recognized on lists such as 50 Women in Business, Emerging Business of the Year and Best Places to Work. Link to Article

Dawn Vitale (Design & Merchandising ‘03) became the chief merchandising officer at Levi Strauss & Co., according to a LinkedIn update. Previously, she was the senior vice president of Global Merchandising at Levi Strauss & Co. Link to LinkedIn

Interior Design student Aviv Amdur’s essay, “My First Language,” written in an English course taught by Matthew Mosher, was the first-prize winner of Drexel Publishing Group’s first-year writing contest. The essay will be reprinted in an upcoming edition of The Norton Field Guide to Writing, as “an exemplary example of student writing.” 

Kendra D. Dobson (Screenwriting & Playwriting ‘13) became the AI Integration specialist at 3240 Entertainment Group LLC, according to a LinkedIn update. Ms. Dobson is also the grants writer, producer, founder, owner, and CEO at 3240 Entertainment Group LLC; the narrative designer for Shadow Health at Elsevier; and the script reader at the Austin Film Festival. Previously, she was the legal videographer at Magna Legal Services. Link to LinkedIn

Stephanie A. Schaich-Bricken (BS Fashion Design ‘88), the founder and owner of Seraphim Social Beverage, was profiled about her business and product with Asbury Park Press on January 12, 2024. Seraphim Social Beverage is a non-alcoholic beverage crafted with pure botanical ingredients that "drinks like a red" and offers a satisfying and relaxing drinking experience without the unwanted effects of alcohol. Link to Article

Destiny J. Bugg (Entertainment & Arts Management ‘19), an Arts Management graduate student at American University, was one of four students who participated in a yearlong fellowship at the iconic John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. During her fellowship, Ms. Bugg worked in the Kennedy Center's Social Impact department supporting Dance Sanctuaries, which offers free movement classes to the public, and Culture Caucus, a cohort of culture makers in the DC area. Link to Article

Nicole A. Cashman (Design & Merchandising ‘94) was appointed vice chair of Philadelphia Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker's 2026 transition committee. She also was interviewed by 6ABC Action News about her significant contributions to Philadelphia's public relations scene and her new role in the city's development. Ms. Cashman discussed her initial motivation to bring excitement and promotion to the city, highlighting various aspects such as dining, emerging hotels, arts and culture, nonprofits, fashion, beauty, and retail. She is currently the CEO and founder of Cashman & Associates. Link to Article

Cory A. Henry (Architecture ‘10) will be joining the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University as the Ruth & Norman Moore Visiting Professor for the spring 2024 semester where he will lead a graduate-level options studio. Mr. Henry is the principal of the award-winning, Los Angeles-based firm Atelier Cory Henry. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has been recognized by NCARB as an emerging force in the field. Mr. Henry serves as design critic at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and has been twice named KEA Distinguished Professor by the University of Maryland. He previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, Penn State University, and the University of Southern California. Link to Article

Christopher G. Hytha (Architecture ‘21), a photographer and digital artist, exhibited his pioneering work from his photography collection called at the Colonna Contemporary art gallery in Wayne, PA on December 15. One of Mr. Hytha's notable achievements includes the Pearson Prize Gold Medal, awarded for his groundbreaking senior project "Centre Square Station." Link to Article

Aga Sokolow, AIA, NCARB (Architecture ‘13) became the principal owner of Sokolow Architects, according to a LinkedIn update. Previously, she was the architectural designer at Bernardon. Link to LinkedIn