Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

FromStephens masthead

August 2017 

184 years

Today marks the official 184th birthday of Stephens College.
Happy Birthday, dear Stephens!


A Legacy of Excellence

Fashion designer Amy Bond ’92 competes on Lifetime’s ‘Project Runway’

designer Amy Bond

Amy Bond ’92 is one of 16 fashion designers who is competing on the 16th season of “Project Runway,” the popular, Emmy-Award winning reality television contest.

The season, which premiered on Aug. 17, airs at 7 p.m. CST on Thursdays on Lifetime.

Bond, 46, isn’t the first Stephens alumna to appear on the show. Qristyl Frazier ’91 competed in season six in 2009 and made it through episode four of the competition. 

In an interview posted on the “Project Runway” website, Bond, who lives in Los Angeles, said she received an email inviting her to audition for the show. Although she has many years of experience, Bond said winning the competition requires more than sheer talent.

“We all have talent,” she said. “We wouldn’t have made it to the cast if we didn’t. Therefore, I don’t think it is a matter of discovering who “has it” and who doesn’t, but rather who can keep on task and on point. As an educator and seasoned professional, I have a thorough set of relevant skills and experiences to draw from and the maturity to implement them.”

After graduating from Stephens with a B.F.A. in Fashion Design, Bond worked as an assistant designer at St. Pucchi in L.A., before starting her own contemporary women’s clothing line in 1999. Eventually, she completed her M.F.A. in Fashion Design through the Academy of Art University’s online fashion program.

Bond has been a featured designer at many shows around Los Angeles and her previous residence of Las Vegas. She also showed at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in 2012. She has taught for several schools, including The Art Institute of Las Vegas, Otis College of Art and Design in L.A. and Kadenze Inc., which brings together educators, artists and engineers from leading universities across the globe to provide online education in the fields of art and creative technology.


Academic Innovation

Stephens theatre students act out stories in community

reading to students 

Natalie Botkins ’19 and Alexandria Borisenko ’20 read to children at Barnes & Noble.


This was no ordinary Saturday morning at Barnes & Noble at the Columbia Mall.

A voice over the loudspeaker had just announced that two Disney characters will be arriving soon to read stories to children at the bookstore. Boys and girls gather around the children’s reading stage, wiggling and giggling with excitment.

But when Anna and her sister, Snow Queen Elsa, the stars of Disney’s “Frozen,” arrive, the children fall silent, stunned to be in the presence of two of their favorite movie characters.

“I have a dress with a picture of you on it!” a girl says.

“Me, too!” says another girl. 

Little did the children know that Anna and Elsa are actually Alexandria Borisenko ’20 and Natalie Botkins ’19, theatre students at Stephens College, where this fall the School of Creative and Performing Arts is offering a new emphasis area in theatre for young audiences through its Bachelor of Fines Arts in Theatre Arts program.

The students’ appearance at Barnes & Noble is part of the many outreach programs put on by the Theatre Reaching Young People and Schools (TRYPS) Institute at Stephens.

Live at Eleven is a free 30-minute workshop for children ages 2-8 that happens once a month at the Columbia Public Library and Barnes & Noble. The idea is to help children connect literacy, theatre and creative play.  

“Our Stephens students appear as a princess or storybook character, read a book and interact with children as they color or fill in activity sheets,” said Jill Womack, executive artistic director at TRYPS Institute and assistant professor of children’s theatre. “Children love interacting with their favorite characters.” 

TRYPS Institute also sends princess characters to the Children’s Hospital for monthly visits.

“The Stephens students gain invaluable outreach experience as workshop leaders, as well as providing enriching theatre arts experiences for the mid-Missouri community and children,” Womack said. 

In Spring 2017, six B.F.A. students created the Royal Readers program, which is a reading readiness program that they bring into area preschools. The Stephens students create a leave-behind book featuring activities and content tailored to their book and princess character. They dress as a princess, read a book, play a theatre game or sing a song with children before leading them through one activity in the booklet.


A Vibrant Campus

Stephens College welcomes new students to campus

new students 

Members of the Entering Class of 2017 


Brianna Duncan ’21  and her parents drove 200 miles in the pouring rain to arrive in time for her first day at Stephens College on Aug. 17.

She had already tamped down one case of nervous hives on the long ride and was hoping her excitement about moving in would override her nerves.

“I’m so happy to be here!” Duncan said.

The Cape Girardeau, Mo., native is the first among her family’s four children to attend college. Her parents couldn’t be more proud or more certain that Stephens is the right fit for their daughter.

“We come from a very rural area, and we didn’t want her jumping into a major university where she might feel overwhelmed,” Amanda Duncan said. “Stephens is just the right size and has everything she needs.”

Duncan, a pre-med major, is one of about 200 new students who moved into their residence halls.

Several Stephens alumnae clubs and networks hosted welcome tables for the new students and their families. Thank you to: Stephens College Alumnae Club of Northern California; Stephens College Alumnae Group of Mid-Missouri; Stephens College Alumnae Club of Greater Washington, D.C.; Stephens College Alumnae Club of St. Louis; LA Women for Stephens; and Stephens College New York Alumnae Group.

Stephens students participated in four days of orientation before the start of classes this week. Faculty, staff and student volunteers were on hand to help unload cars and carry belongings to dorm rooms.

Amanda Debevec ’21 and her parents traveled 850 miles from their home in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Stephens was one of the few schools that offered a major in event and convention management. But the icing on the cake was the beauty of the campus and the people she met when she came to visit.

“I fell in love with Stephens,” she said.

It was Madelaine Manyx’s mom who first discovered Stephens online and thought a women’s college would be the perfect fit for her daughter. Once Manyx, a psychology major from St. Louis, toured the campus and learned more about the college, she was convinced her mom was right.

“I’m pretty excited to be here,” she said.

In Pillsbury Hall, Brittany Adams ’21 of Charleston, Mo., sat on her bed, clutching her Chihuahua/terrier mix named Lucky close to her chest. Her mom and grandma busied themselves, unloading boxes and putting away clothes.

“I’m pretty nervous about fitting in,” Adams said. “But I’m rooming with my best friends, and I have Lucky who will help me make friends.”

Adams said it was Stephens’ pet program that first attracted her to the college. Then, when she learned she could major in pre-vet, the decision to attend was easy.

Her mom, Traci Jaynes, is still getting used to the idea of her first child leaving home.

“I’m a bundle of nerves,” she said. “I’m feeling all kinds of emotions.”

Natalie Irlmeier ’20 of O’Fallon, Mo., was auditioning at the International Thespian Conference in St. Louis, when Rob Doyen ’69, a theatre professor at Stephens, saw her and recommended the college.

Her parents are thrilled with their daughter’s choice. She’s majoring in musical theatre. Plus, Natalie’s older twin sisters are starting their senior year at the University of Missouri and can keep an eye on her. 

“We’re so excited to have her here,” Sharon Irlmeier said. “This is a great fit for Natalie.”

View more Move-In Day photos.


Student Success

Seven Stephens College teams earn NAIA Scholar-Teams Distinction

NAIA Scholar Teams 

The Stephens College Department of Athletics had seven of their eight varsity teams earn the distinction for Scholar-Teams for the 2016-17 academic year, as released by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Office on July 18.

"We are extremely proud of the Star athletics programs that were named NAIA Scholar-Teams," stated Athletic Director Adam Samson. "Our student-athletes had a phenomenal year academically and this recognition reinforces that. Day in, day out, these young women navigate through numerous life challenges all while displaying an excellence and dedication to both their studies and their sport."

The competitive dance team, after competing in the NAIA Nationals for the second consecutive year, finished with the highest cheer and dance GPA out of 34 eligible teams with a 3.53 GPA.

Softball placed fifth in their sport out of 124 eligible teams, finishing the year with a 3.61 GPA. Women's basketball tied for fifth place out of 49 with a 3.49 GPA.

Sporting a department high 3.67 GPA, the cross country team tied for 12th place out of 130 teams.

Tennis finished in a three-way tie for 13th with their 3.58 GPA. Volleyball held a 3.44 GPA and fell 51st on the list out of 141 teams. Golf completed the year with a 3.13 GPA.

As a department, the Stars held a 3.38 GPA for the 2016-17 academic year. Individually, the Stars had 21 NAIA Scholar-Athletes in the academic year.

For a team to be considered for the NAIA Scholar-Team award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) as defined by the institution. The team grade-point average includes all eligible varsity student-athletes through the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. 


Outstanding Faculty

Two visiting guest artists join performing arts faculty

visiting guest artistsTwo outstanding visiting guest artists have joined the faculty this academic year in the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Each artist will stay one semester and teach technique classes in all dance styles.

The first to arrive is Carol Schuberg who will not only teach dance classes, but work as the choreographer on “Anything Goes,” which will show at the Macklanburg Playhouse in early December. Schuberg, who is a seasoned educator, has played Erma in “Anything Goes” on Broadway.

Over the years, she has taught ballet, jazz, tap, yoga, Pilates, Alexander techniques, hip hop, salsa, musical theater dance and dance audition technique courses at various institutions, including New York University, Baldwin Wallace University, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, American University, Georgetown University, Florida State and Pennsylvania State University.

Schuberg has presented master classes at various institutions, including the University of Utah and Point Park University. She performed on Broadway in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and in the national tours of “Cats,” “Promises,” “Tap Dance Kid,” “Barnum” and “Gigi.” She received a B.F.A. in Ballet from the University of Utah.

In the spring, Darren Gibson will arrive on campus where he will teach dance classes and serve as the artistic director for the spring dance concert. Gibson is a former artistic director for TexARTS Academy and the TexARTS Broadway Company in Austin, Texas, where he choreographed and directed 30 musicals and ballets.

He grew up in New York where Eliot Feld discovered him. Gibson went on to became the first student to graduate from The New Ballet School (known now as Ballet Tech), where he worked as principal dancer and ballet master. He would eventually serve on the Ballet Tech Board of Directors. Since then, he has accumulated numerous ballet credits, staged ballets for Richmond and Boston ballets, and assisted Ann Reinking in an original work for the American Ballet Theatre.

In addition to ballet, Gibson has been involved in musical theater, appearing as a featured performer in both the New York Shakespeare Festival production and Broadway revival of “On the Town,” directed by George C. Wolfe. He later became a featured performer and resident director/choreographer in London’s West End production of “Fosse.” 

He is a former dance instructor in the Texas State University Musical Theatre Department and was also a co-artistic director/director of the Dance Department for the Broadway Theater Project (BTP) and artistic director of BTP2.


Campus celebrates total eclipse

The Stephens community had a blast celebrating the historic total eclipse on Monday. Students, faculty and staff enjoyed picnic fare, a dance party and more on the Historic Quad. Making the event even more memorable, the moment of totality was marked by ringing the bells in our bell tower.

View our Total Eclipse photo album.

season 70

Performing Arts season announced

The School of Creative and Performing Arts is celebrating 70 years of inspiring, entertaining and often thought-provoking theatre, dance, music and film performances at Stephens College.

“Season 70: A Season that Will Move You” will showcase a blend of classic works and those with a modern twist. The box office opens Aug. 31. 

Check out the full schedule here

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