The College of Arts & Media celebrates students, faculty, staff, and community leaders who are making a difference on campus, in the community, and in the creative fields!


Visual Arts

Bella Briganti

Bachelor of Fine Arts Art Practices

During her time at CU Denver, Bella Briganti studied emphases in drawing, painting, and illustration. Keen to develop her skill in scientific illustration, Bella sought out an independent study with a Visual Arts faculty member who has experience in the field. Prof. Melissa Furness describes Bella as “diligent, curiously creative and talented” and as being “a natural leader, lifting others up with genuine interest and curiosity.” Over the course of her studies, Isabella traveled to Florence, Italy and Manti, Utah, thus expanding her artistic horizons. Bella also worked in the Emmanuel Art Gallery on the Auraria campus. “I treated my schoolwork as portfolio development at the same time as degree seeking, which made it easier to stay motivated and serious about my classes,” Bella explains. Her diligence and motivation led Bella to exhibit her work in 11 exhibitions during her time at CU Denver.

National Center for Media Forensics

Erika Thurman
Erika Thurman

Master of Science Media Forensics

Erika is an active duty member of the U.S. military as well as being a graduate of the National Center for Media Forensics. Erika specializes in mobile phone forensics in her active duty with the military. During her time in NCMF, Erika wrote “The Search for Truth: Android Phones and Screen Captured vs Camera Created Images.” Faculty members Catalin Grigoras and Cole Whitecotton say Erika’s research is important, affects law enforcement across the country, and will likely lead to ongoing research. Erika says a valuable lesson she’ll take away from her studies in NCMF is “to always analyze every item of evidence from as many perspectives and with as many tools as possible because crucial information may be lost otherwise.”

Film & Television

Eric Lopushansky

Bachelor of Fine Arts Film & Television

Eric proved his work ethic during his Film & Television classes at CU Denver. He honed his skills at filmmaking—particularly in editing. Film faculty member Eric Jewett describes Eric’s editing of the student short film Invoking a Saint as “a masterful job that saved the film.” Through his editing, Eric was able to clarify the meaning of the film and articulate that meaning to the audience. Jewett believes Eric will represent Film & Television at CU Denver well in whatever line of work he picks up. For his part, Eric says he was motivated to work so hard in his classes due to the realization that “not everyone who wants to or will do well in college has the resources to go to university, and thus I feel that those of us who are lucky enough to go have a duty to do their absolute best and make the most of the opportunities afforded to us.”

Music & Entertainment Industry Studies

Verena Fuentes
Verena Fuentes

Bachelor of Science Music

Despite settling in Denver during the pandemic, Verena Fuentes quickly became a highly visible performer both on the CU Denver campus and in the Denver community. An international student from Mexico City, Verena has shown leadership in her classes and among her peers. Professor Larry Kaptain, PhD says Verena eagerly participates in her classes and is diligent in her studies in Music & Entertainment Industry Studies. Throughout her time at CU Denver, Verena could often be seen fronting the ensemble Voz de la Clave or performing on her own at a gallery event or concert. 


Film & Television

Grace Wagner
Grace Wagner

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television


As the Film & Television (FiTV) outstanding graduate, Grace Wagner displayed a creativity and diligence that served her well in CU Denver’s cohort-style film program. “I have left with so many contacts and friends that I know I can rely on in the future, and I think something like that is the most beneficial thing to have as a filmmaker,” says Grace. One of the main things the FiTV classes impressed upon Grace is that communication and passion are the most important things that make a good film and that gaining a reputation for caring—caring about the project you’re working on and people you’re working with—goes a long way in filmmaking. As far as the future is concerned, Grace hopes to get her foot in the film world doing anything involving production, design, or editing. “Grace Wagner is creative, diligent, and dedicated to the craft of filmmaking. We are honored to have been her teachers. The CU Denver universe will be proud to have her as an alumni,” says Prof. David Liban, FiTV chair. 


Music & Entertainment Industry Studies

Faith Giles
Faith Giles

Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts


Faith Giles gained a reputation for being a determined, disciplined, and dedicated student during her time in MEIS. “Faith consistently dove into our study of electronic music history,” writes Senior Instructor Todd Reid, “even when exploring the more esoteric, avant-garde directions this music took in its early years. She researched and presented a wonderful overview of electronic music in the 2020s and even composed a very interesting and involved electronic music composition.” Faith plans to work in sound for gaming or film/television sound after graduation. According to her professors, Faith’s drive to excel will surely lead her to a bright and promising future in the music industry.

David Ifland
David Ifland

Master of Science, Recording Arts 

Throughout his time in the MSRA program, David demonstrated a strong commitment to growth, development, and excellence in his Brain-Music research, scholarship, and artistic pursuits. During his studies, he has received a national Bluecoats Fellowship as well as published a peer-reviewed composition and a peer-reviewed performance at the Albireo New Music Collective and the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference. He has been actively involved in research labs including Dr. Cecilia Wu's Embodied Sonic Meditation Lab at CU Denver and Dr. Grace Leslie's Brain Music Lab at CU Boulder, demonstrating his academic diligence and collaborative nature. Additionally, David has exhibited excellent leadership qualities and passion to teach throughout his time in the MSRA program. He has given many talks and demonstrations about his EEG brain music research in classes for undergraduates, demonstrating his commitment to support and mentor other students.

"David is motivated and always communicates well and is on top of his research agenda and career development. I have no doubt that he will be a high achiever in academia. " says Dr. Cecilia Wu. After graduation, David’s immediate plans are to begin working in live sound and post-production while applying for a Ph.D. program. 

Visual Arts

Jaylen Dunbar
Jaylen Dunbar

Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Graphics & Animation

Jaylen Dunbar is graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in computer animation and a minor in leadership studies. In addition to excelling at his studies in the Digital Animation Center (DAC), Jaylen was also a part of the University Honors and Leadership Program, which led him to engage in volunteer work at the Denver Rescue Mission and the Colorado Historical Society. While a student at CU Denver, Jaylen worked in the Office of the Chancellor where he produced and edited video content to promote the University’s strategic planning efforts. Senior Instructor and Program Director of the DAC, Jeremy Brown, describes Jaylen’s leadership skills this way: “Jaylen leads by doing. He never asks anything of his teammates without also doing the work himself. Jaylen leads with empathy. He listens to his teammates and finds solutions through consensus. Jaylen leads through perseverance. He and his team have faced numerous challenges and setbacks but Jaylen always comes back to the table ready to try a new approach.” Jaylen’s professors look forward to seeing what he will achieve after graduation.


Each year CU Denver honors one of the university’s greatest assets—the remarkable faculty—with the faculty awards. These accolades recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, leadership and service, and research and creative activities.

Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Work

Gregory T.S. Walker, DMA
Gregory Walker
The College of Arts & Media (CAM) is proud to name Professor Gregory T.S. Walker of Music & Entertainment Industry Studies (MEIS) as the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Work Award. The award highlights Walker’s ongoing efforts to bring awareness to the unsung heroes of the modern musical canon through his composition, performance, and academic work. “Professor Walker’s efforts to deepen the understanding of Black American creatives through genre-bending arrangements, compositions, and performances makes great sense within the College of Arts & Media: a place where creativity, intellect, and social justice collide,” notes Mark Rabideau, Associate Dean for Faculty and Student Affairs in CAM.

SEED Equity and CELEBRATE Equity Awards

SEED Equity Award - seed efforts that increase awareness of disparities within and across systems, inspire positive change, and work toward creating a more hopeful, just world. The award recognizes work unfolding during the current and/or upcoming academic year that holds significant potential for impact or change within the college or within our community.
CELEBRATE Equity Award - celebrates efforts that have increased awareness of disparities within and across systems, inspire positive change, and work toward creating a more hopeful, just world. The award recognizes work that has unfolded since the previous year’s award that significantly impacted or changed the landscape of equity, diversity, or inclusion within the college or within our community.
Cynthia Cazanas-Garin, MFA
Cynthia Cazanas Garin2
Assistant Professor of Film & Television Cynthia Cazanas-Garin has been awarded a SEED Equity Award for her ongoing work on the film What’s a Cuban Doing in Colorado?
Michelle Carpenter, MFA
Michelle Carpenter
Visual Arts Professor and Chair Michelle Carpenter has been granted a SEED Equity Award for her forthcoming project Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius. Michelle has also received a CELEBRATE Equity award for the original film she produced, Awadagin Pratt: Black in America.

College of Arts & Media

CU Denver

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Denver, CO 80204


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