Celebrating the Crew

    Acknowledgement and recognition was given to students, instructors and department staff at the second annual NXT Up Fest


    Photo by Bob Toy.

    For the second annual NXT Up Fest, the School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPT) at the Academy of Art University decided to do things a little different.

    Compared to last year’s event, which had students’ peers decide who takes home the prize, this year, it was up to a select group of industry professionals with hefty resumes: Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea, Good Will Hunting); Howard Rosenman (Call Me By Your Name); Liz Glotzer (The Shawshank Redemption, The Good Fight); and Barbara Fisher (Hallmark Channel).

    “We wanted this work to be viewed by people in the industry,” said MPT Director Randy Levinson. “We wanted to get an assessment of what people were really thinking, the heads of each of their own particular crafts.”

    On paper, NXT Up Fest is all about acknowledging individual student excellence. But for the entire night, the department instructors and award winners were all about showing their crew some love.

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    2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Will Mosgrove

    To say that Academy of Art University has been a major part of honorary doctorate recipient Will Mosgrove’s life is an understatement. Mosgrove, who served as graduate director of the Academy’s School of Photography from 2006 to 2015, also earned his B.F.A. from what was then Academy of Art College. His graduating class of 1978 had just 20 members, one of whom—Anne Cook—would become his wife. The couple will celebrate 38 years of marriage later this year.

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    2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Stephanie Thomas

    Although her disability may not be obvious, Stephanie Thomas has always found shopping for stylish clothes that are easy to put on and take off a challenge. A congenital amputee, Thomas was born missing digits on her hands and feet. But it was shopping for a pet that put her on the path to becoming a fashion stylist and advocate for the disabled. Thomas was a radio deejay in Los Angeles when a dog coat caught her eye in a pet store in 2007. The coat was not only cute, but also carefully designed with buttons and pockets in just the right spots for a dog’s body.

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    Class of 2018 Valedictorian: Keri Yourick

    Since 2005, Academy of Art University M.F.A. valedictorian Keri Yourick’s thirst for knowledge and self-discovery have led her to many different places. She’s studied in Florida, Colorado, Italy and California. Along the way, she’s accumulated an impressive collection of degrees. They include a B.A. in Italian from The Ohio State University in Florida, a school she attended on a lacrosse scholarship; a B.A. in fashion design from the Art Institute of Colorado; and her latest, an M.F.A. in fashion product development from the Academy. Always driven to do her best, Yourick graduated with honors from each of her alma maters.

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    2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipient: David Pfeil

    For the past 20 years, David Oliver Pfeil has played a key role in Academy of Art University’s commencement ceremonies. The former director of the School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPT) creates the engaging videos that celebrate the accomplishments of each distinguished alumni and honorary doctorate recipient. This year, in addition to filming the stories of other honorees, Pfeil got to turn the spotlight on himself. On May 9, he received an honorary doctorate from Academy President Dr. Elisa Stephens.

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    Class of 2018 Valedictorian: Dante Finn

    Dante Finn, Academy of Art University valedictorian from the School of Game Development (GAM), always knew he wanted to be an artist – in fact, he preferred art to his own family.

    “When I was four years old, my mom, who is here today, told me that my sister was going to have a daughter and that I was going to be an uncle,” he told the audience during his speech at the May 9 afternoon commencement ceremony at Bill Graham Auditorium. “I replied, ‘I don’t want to be an uncle. I want to be an artist!’”

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