College of Fine Arts, School of Art, School of Dance, School of Music, School of Theatre, Film & Television

Dancer Andrea Damiani is the Outstanding Senior for the College of Fine Arts and the School of Dance for the fall semester. Damiani and all the school’s Outstanding Seniors will be celebrated at the CFA Fall 2021 Graduation Ceremony on Dec. 16 at Marroney Theatre.

Damiani earned dual degrees: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Eller College of Management. Damiani won two competitions through Eller: Business Communications Case Competition winner and Management Information Systems Case Competition. She was chosen for the Maria C. Mandel Scholarship for her Excellence in Ballet. 

Dancer Andrea Damiani named ... Andrea Damiani portrait

“Andrea is an extremely hard-working and ambitious technician and an asset in and out of the classroom,” wrote Assistant Professor Hayley Meier in her nomination letter. “As a dance major, Andrea carries herself in a professional manner and approaches her studies with an eagerness and passion to learn.”

She performed in numerous masterworks with world-renowned choreographers, most notably George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and Concerto Barocco, Nacho Duato’s Na Floresta, and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Boiling Point

Damiani grew up dancing and trying different sports, like soccer, lacrosse, swimming, softball. She admits to faking an injury or two to get out of swimming to get back to ballet.

At the University of Arizona, she danced, of course, but expanded her interests to include things like the Business of Entertainment Club and the Music Industry Club, as she pursued her business degree at Eller. 

“These organizations gave me the opportunity to work with musicians, actors and film crews,” she said. “Sometimes my schedule got so crazy, I felt like I couldn’t handle it all, but I was hungry for more.”

She voluntarily completed a certification through NYU for Music industry essentials which included six courses pertaining to the music industry: branding, music management, record production, creativity in content, publishing, money management, and more. As a Business Communications Preceptor she interviewed and mentored students on their public speaking and business presentation skills. With her coaching, the team ended up winning the Business Case Competition at Eller College of Management.  

Dancer Andrea Damiani named Outstanding Senior

She joined the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, where she participated in numerous philanthropic events. 

“I became a Pi Phi member because I wanted a community of people that were similar to me in my values and morals. I wanted to experience going to events and making the university feel smaller by surrounding myself around similar people. It helped me build a network and fed me. It helped to have a sort of home base on campus.’

Through it all, Damiani followed a role model who helped her through all the tough times: Jenny from the block. Jennifer Lopez.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but JLo … she can do it all. She is a businesswoman, mother, actress, singer, dancer, and Puerto Rican like me. As artists, we are asked to step out of our comfort zones daily. Every time I did something that scared me, I channeled that JLo energy.”

Damiani wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. To that end, she had 30 informational interviews with individuals in the industry. She has secured an entry-level position with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles. 

The agency that represents JLo, coincidentally.

“I’m literally starting in the mail room,” she said. “I want to learn the business with real world experience. Hopefully, within six-to-eight months, I’ll be assigned as an assistant to an agent. My goal is to figure out my goal.” 

Over this past summer, Damiani trained over 10 weeks studying Latin ballroom dancing for her senior capstone. She learned the bachata, salsa, merengue, rumba, and samba from leading professionals in the field. 

“My mom, grandma, and I were all dancers. Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, we were very in touch with our roots. So dancing salsa, bachata, and merengue was something I grew up watching my parents do consistently. I always loved how fun it looked, and I wanted to learn how to do it well. I also grew up listening to Hispanic music, and I always wanted to learn how to dance to it.”

She plans on continuing dancing in Los Angeles. Ballroom dance competitions. Don’t bet against her.


Sophie Baygents

Outstanding Senior // School of Art

Dancer Andrea Damiani named ... Sophie Baygents portrait

“With every project, I was challenged with taking unconventional approaches to my work and trained with tools I’ve never heard of or experienced before. Subjects from Vector art to 3D sculpture, I’m familiar with. Desire a new brand identity? Let me open up Photoshop. Need to tack two steel-rods together? Hand me the welding torch. Thanks to the wide variety of creative experiences the University of Arizona has given me, I consider myself a ‘Swiss-Army-Student.’”

Associate Professor Kelly Leslie, nominating letter excerpt

Baygents is a senior in the Illustration and Design Program at the School of Art. Her focus and engagement to her studies would be impressive at any time, but during this pandemic Sophie was a beacon of light always shining with enthusiasm and interest. She was able to foster community and show leadership despite many obstacles of the Live Online format of her design classes. Now, in-person, she has taken on the design lead in a group project designing an app to help people learn about diabetes in our Clients in the Community class. Her leadership skills show a maturity and sensitivity to creating a space where all are respected while challenging her peers to excel and meet deadlines.

Baygents interned in athletics for the women’s tennis team, assisting with social media and at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health designing informational infographics assisting with the College’s COVID response.


Diego Abeytia

Outstanding Senior // Fred Fox School of Music

Dancer Andrea Damiani named ... Diego Abeytia portrait

“My favorite experience will always be sitting down in Centennial Hall for my first music rehearsal block with the Pride of Arizona. It blew my mind that a band could sound like that on the first day. Ever since I started high school, I had dreamed of sitting in one of those seats, and finally there I was.”

Assistant Professor Johanna Lundy, nominating letter excerpt

Diego, pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education degree, is student teaching at Alice Vail Middle School. While Diego has followed the music education path passionately from the beginning, he has also participated above and beyond to become the best horn player possible. In essence, he has pursued a double degree path of horn performance and music education, by giving additional recitals, participating in chamber groups, and taking classes that were beyond the expectations of his degree program. In 2020, he advanced to finals at the FFSOM concerto competition, was named a Medici Scholar, and won the first prize at the Charleston International Music Festival with his ensemble the Vulpes Wind Quintet.

He was a drum major of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band for two years, a highly competitive position and one that is extremely respected. He conducted the ensemble of 250 musicians and served as a regular point of contact between students, faculty, and the Tucson band community.

Reagan Kennedy

Outstanding Senior // School of Theatre, Film & Television

Dancer Andrea Damiani named ... Reagan Kennedy portrait

“(My favorite memory comes from) “Encore,” a talent showcase that introduces the freshman class to the public and the department for the first time. I came out the stage doors to the most welcoming crowd of family, faculty, and peers, who were beaming with pride and love. They took each of us into their arms, and instantly made us feel like they had our backs. It is unexplainable, but those hugs and well wishes weren’t just temporary, you knew no matter who they came from, that they would last a lifetime.” – Reagan Kennedy

Assistant Professor Christie Kerr, nominating letter excerpt …

Reagan is inquisitive and seems to have an appetite for learning.  She is enthusiastic in all that she does and is eager to learn new things.  She is also a leader within her Senior class.  They look to her steady demeanor and strong work ethic. Reagan is at the top of her class academically.  She holds a 3.90 GPA and has been on the Dean’s list her entire time here at UArizona. She’s been a strong presence on the Arizona Repertory Theatre stage. She has a magnetism that draws many to her.  She performed in Pippin, Manson Trio (featured dancer), The Wolves, and Still Standing (featured soloist). She is currently in rehearsals for Arizona Repertory Theatre’s production of Into the Woods in the role of the Witch.  

Reagan has also been active on campus in her sorority, Delta Gamma. She has participated in various philanthropic events as well as volunteering at the Tucson School for the Deaf and Blind, Paws for a Cause and Casa de Los Ninos.  She has been active in several clubs on campus as well.