CoA+A Full Circle: Alumni return as staff & faculty

Friday, June 16, 2023

As they returned to their alma mater, these outstanding alumni found themselves not only revisiting cherished memories but also forging a new path as valued staff members and esteemed faculty. Their stories exemplify the profound impact an educational institution can have on its students, as they return, armed with knowledge and experience, to shape the very place that shaped them. In this blog, we celebrate the alumni who have come full circle, transforming their alma mater from a pivotal chapter in their lives to a lifelong commitment.

Myron Macklin '98

Degrees: BFA in Graphic Design & BFA in Illustration
Position: University Graphic Designer (See his personal work on Instagram, @myronmacklin)
Year returned: 2003

What I love about working here: I like the variety of projects I work on and the different kinds of problem-solving I’m tasked with. For example, I really enjoyed working on the Light Rail elevator wraps project for the University. I worked on the branding and info panels for the inside door. It had amazing photography and printing. Everything came together so well with that one.

Favorite spot on campus: It’s not so much one particular place. I like to take walks after lunch and really admire all of the work the grounds people work to make the campus as beautiful as it is. I tend to see the campus as a living, breathing thing. I also get to see lots of different animals as well, which is also a nice treat.

Favorite memory: Many of my best memories were of being on the steps or halls of Rowe Arts. It was great to be amongst so many talented peers. Everyone was there to improve. It was inspiring for me.

Other cool projects: My graphic novel, The Zoo Act. It was a difficult project to complete because of the amount of labor involved. Even still, it was a labor of love.

Advice for students: Be obsessed with your crafts and enjoy the seasons of your life. Even the difficult times may be the ones you reminisce about.


Sam Salvato '17

Degrees: BA in Dance Performance, BSBA in Marketing
Position: CoA+A Marketing Manager
Year returned: 2019

Favorite spot on campus: The dance studios in Robinson Hall

A full circle moment: My favorite memory as a student was performing at the Joyce Theatre in NYC as part of the Martha Graham Company's University Partners Showcase. We performed the iconic work, "Steps in the Street." What makes this memory even cooler is the fact that I was able to travel back to NYC this spring with dance students to document their experience also participating in this performance! 

Legendary research: Another favorite memory was being an assistant research scholar for dance professor Kim Jones for her research on a lost work by American modern dance legend Paul Taylor. I worked with her from the conception of the project, through research gathering, implementation of the notes into choreography, and even performing in the final piece. I put in over 300 hours of research, and because of this project, the work, "Tracer," has been added back to the Paul Taylor Modern Dance Company's repertoire. It was an incredible finding for the renowned company's performance history, and a really special opportunity for me to help contribute to dance history. I even got to meet Paul Taylor in the process and shake his hand!”

What I love about working here: I love having a direct hand in building the awareness of our programs. Whether it's internally with our faculty and students at College events, or through building digital marketing recruitment campaigns. Our College has a lot of amazing opportunities for students, and I love being able to share that with the world so others can experience it, too.

Favorite thing that happens on campus: CoAAPalooza! When I was a student, I didn't venture too far away from other dance majors. Now, CoAAPalooza is such a fun way to bring the whole college community together and share how each individual makes CoA+A special.  


Alexander GomeS '21

Degrees: BA in Theatre
Position: Dean's Office Administrative Support Assistant
Year returned: 2023

Favorite memory: Having the opportunity to go to New York with my fellow Martin Scholars and seeing Hamilton live on Broadway.

Favorite place on campus: Either the small hammock area in between Storrs and Robinson or the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. I think the innovation and creativity that happens in the Black Box Theater is also special.

What I love about working in CoA+A: I love the sense of community working within the College of Arts + Architecture. We all strive to provide the best educational and developmental experience for our students, and as a former student, it feels extra special to work at a place that has poured so much into me – both personally and professionally.

What I learned as a student that I still hold onto today: Don't be afraid to speak, reach out, and make connections with people. You never know how your interaction with people can affect their day, circumstance, or even outlook on life. Who knows? The person you spoke to one day could be the same person that'll change your life as well.


Ben Still '13

Degrees: BA in Music Performance
Position: Professor, Saxophone
Year returned: 2017

Favorite memory: Performing my senior recital, as a capstone recital is a big milestone for music majors. I was very proud of the program that I selected and had a wonderful time sharing that music with others. 

Favorite place on campus: I have a particular fondness for the Student Union because it opened my freshman year on campus. 

Favorite thing that happens on campus: All of the performances that are shared throughout the semester! 

What I love about working here: My students are really great. They work very hard, and it's a pleasure to watch them grow and find their voices throughout their music careers. I also have some really great colleagues who are world-class artists and performers in their respective fields. It's always a pleasure to collaborate with them. 

Advice learned: While in college, I learned how to juggle my time between practicing, studying, and having a social life. I continue to use many of the time management skills that I learned at UNC Charlotte. 


Audrey Baran '03

Position: Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance
Degree: BA Dance
Year returned: 2016

Favorite memory: Learning from professors who held so much embodied knowledge including Karen Hubbard, Sybil Huskey, and Noel Reiss, as well as getting to know students from other majors in CoA+A. (Noel Reiss is in one of the old photos provided and the dress I'm wearing is a Karen Hubbard hand-me-down!)

Favorite thing that happens on campus: The emerging cross-collaborations between departments and the community events that bring us together, learning about each others' disciplines and the possibilities between us. 

What I love about working in CoA+A: Hands down, the students. Particularly in the Department of Dance, our majors and minors come from such uniquely diverse backgrounds and all have different goals. I love fostering that individuality and encouraging them to think and move outside of the box.

What I learned as a student that I still hold onto today: Take advantage of (pretty much) every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where one project will lead or who you will meet in the process. Manage your time and energy wisely, but don't be afraid to get out there and make your mark!

Favorite place on campus: The front steps of Rowe. My (now) husband and I used to hang out there. He was a Graphic Design major and in the guitar ensemble. We actually got engaged there!


Rachel Vick '22

Degrees: BA in Applied Dance, and BSBA in Marketing
Position: CoA+A Advancement Assistant
Year returned: 2022

Favorite memory: I treasure each time I was able to perform on stage with my peers. Each performance I was a part of was unique and reinforced my love for dance. Nothing made me happier than to share the stage with some amazing dancers, who were all sharing their passion!

Favorite place on campus: Robinson 118 (dance studio)

What I learned as a student that I still hold onto today: I learned to be grateful for where I am and not to wonder “What if?” or second guess my choices. I learned to keep moving forward and worry less about the past.