In the Loop
Alumni News : Feb 6, 2023

College of the Arts alumni reflect on reasons to give back during Gator Nation Giving Day at the University of Florida

College of the Arts alumni share their memories from their time at UF and why they believe in the importance of giving back to the next generation of artists, makers, and world changers.

As the College of the Arts began gearing up for the University of Florida’s 5th annual 24-hour give-a-thon, Gator Nation Giving Day, taking place on February 16, 2023, we reached out to our alumni and past donors to ask: what inspires you to give to the Arts?

In the responses that follow, we were reminded that the world-shaping experiences and relationships, mentorship, and the sense of purpose that students cultivate during their time at UF and the College of the Arts can ripple outward across a lifetime.

Read on to get to know College of the Arts alumni, spanning five decades, who reminisce on their time at UF COTA, how the arts have shaped their lives, and why they give back to a new generation of artists in the Gator Nation.

Beth Green 
BMUSE 2004, Fine Arts (Major: Music Education) 

Then and now: UF Chamber Singer takes a path to conducting

“I was Beth Haulman during my time at UF, but my last name is Green, now. I was Secretary of the University Choir and sang with them and the Chamber Singers during my time at UF. I sang in Professor Emeritus Elizabeth Graham’s studio.

I graduated summa cum laude with my BM in Choral Music Education in 2004. I taught elementary music for over a decade and earned the state designation of Music Demonstration School and Teacher of the Year for my school.

Now, I conduct the Indialantic Chamber Singers. I also prepare choirs and sing solos for the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra.”

Looking back on favorite memories at the UF College of the Arts

“I had amazing music experiences across the street from UF at University UMC, now Gator Wesley. I did my junior voice recital there. 

The Music Director at UUMC, Robert Jackson, who attended UF in the early 1970s, passed away from cancer this January. When I was at UF, we used to step out the big picture window to sit out on University Avenue and watch the Homecoming parade. I learned to teach handbells from him and participated in the college choir, adult choir, college handbell ringers, and adult handbell ringers. We performed around the Gainesville community and around the southeastern US on our concert tours. 

With the University Choir at UF, we went to Europe. In Leipzig, we jumped down the same stairs as Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music' movie. In Prague, we saw signs for Mozart’s 'Die Zauberflöte' performances — and this semester, I’m conducting my women’s ensemble on its overture rewritten for voices.  

I met my husband, Matt, at UF in 2000. We began dating in 2003, got married in 2010, and had our son Matthew, Jr. in 2015. My parents also met in Gainesville in the 1970s while my mom was a nurse at Shands and my dad worked in housing in the Murphree area. In fact, he planted the bushes that were by the volleyball court when I lived in Fletcher and Sledd over 20 years later!”

Why I believe in giving back to the UF College of the Arts 

“When I was at UF, I was awarded the Edith P. Pitts Scholarship, and I want to pay it forward. Yes, I’ve given more than once during this special holiday. I’ve also loved being involved in the Space Coast Gator Club. I served for many years as their secretary.”

Chandler Sandy
MA, Museology/Museum Studies, 2021

Looking back on favorite memories at the UF College of the Arts 

“That’s a hard one! But if I had to choose just one, I’d have to say that my favorite memory at UF COTA was the trip the Museum Studies program took to New York City. Getting to network with professionals and touring the museums was amazing.

The professors and program collaborators were a great part of my grad school experience, as well. I’m forever grateful for the mentorships I received from great professors.”

Why I believe in giving back to the UF College of the Arts  

“As an alumna of UF and the College of the Arts, what prompted me to make a Giving Day donation in previous years was the college’s commitment to fostering changemakers in the arts.

At a time in history when it’s important to examine the contents of society through an equitable lens, I find the Arts a crucial participant in that future building and something I want to support with whatever donation I can make.”

Nel Webster
BDAE, 1970, Fine Arts

A Gator from the beginning

“I was born in Gainesville, Fla., and my dad was a UF professor in Soils Chemistry, working in the university’s Agriculture Department. I was a Gator from the beginning — watching all the Homecoming parades and attending Gator Growl in the Swamp. As a young child, I thought that everyone went to the UF for grade 13 after high school!”

Three UF professors who shaped my life

“I was always drawn toward art, but found printmaking with Ken Kerslake to be amazing. I took extra printmaking classes after I graduated and even helped him print several of his large intaglio plates. We each got a print and I treasure mine. I pursued an MFA at the University of Tennessee in printmaking and drawing after I graduated from the UF.  

I think my classes in lettering with Mr. Robert Skelley were probably more useful than I ever would have imagined. I have lettered all kinds of signs and special programs through the years, due to his teaching.

Finally, Jerry Uelsmann and his wonderful sense of humor and photography classes were just so helpful in thinking about layout and design of any artwork. And with the cell phones of today — everyone is a photographer."

Life and art after UF

"My husband is a minister, and so we moved around a good deal. While he was in seminary in Lexington, KY, I taught four years at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. Then, his first position was in Omaha, Nebraska. I found a position at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, (which, sadly, has closed) and taught for one year while one art faculty member was on sabbatical.  

I did artwork and layout of books created by Liz and Dick Wilmes. Their Building Blocks monthly newspaper and several books for teachers working with young children, kept me busy. I did this while working at the Gail Borden Public Library part time. I illustrated different parts, designed easy patterns and even did page paste up. 'Yearful of Circle Times,' 'Everyday Bulletin Boards,' and parts of 'Table & Floor Games' are three titles I worked on.

Through the years, I found myself working with young children and many with special needs. My art background came in handy in designing simple artwork for the children to do that their parents would cherish. Along the way, I designed covers for church phone books and many bulletins — and I continue to do that today."

Why I believe in giving back to UF and the Arts

"Sharing my art and giving back to the University of Florida are both important to me. The University of Florida gave me my start in discovering my own way of designing. It is only right to help out the UF and the Arts."

Candace Young
BA, Visual Art Studies, 2000

Memorable COTA moment: putting the right foot forward in sculpture class

"A good class-related memory is from Figure Sculpture with Professor Emeritus Celeste Roberge.

I used to walk around campus barefoot. Everywhere — even to class, when I could get away with it! So, when we were starting our section on life casting, Professor Roberge decided to use my feet as the demo — since they were already bare. That’s how I ended up with my foot on a chair in front of everyone, getting slathered in vaseline and covered in plaster. Good times!"

A visual arts education translates into fintech software solution-making

"I am currently VP, Head of Digital App Logistics at InvestCloud, a global Financial Tech company. Before that, I spent 20 years as a designer and then Creative Director, including for my first six years at InvestCloud.

Three years ago, I had an opportunity to build a brand new team and create new processes to fill a major gap in our Product to Delivery software lifecycle. My strong education in creative thinking and lifelong curiosity is what enabled me to make this career pivot and be successful."

Why I believe in giving back to the UF College of the Arts

"Gator Nation Giving Day is a great time to reconnect with UF and assess or reassess your personal opportunity to make a difference in the learning lives of current and future students.

I am personally dedicated to giving to the College of the Arts Greatest Needs Fund because Creatives are our free thinkers and problem solvers. We look at the world and see all the possibilities and work to make those possibilities a reality. Sometimes an installation, a painting, a dance, a play, or a virtual experience is the reflection of society or the message of hope that changes hearts and minds and pushes us all to be better and do better for each other.

Creatives aren’t just dreamers. We are change makers. And those of us lucky enough to be in a position to help, thanks to our time at UF, all need to ensure that these young change makers have what they need to keep pushing our society forward."

How you can support the College of the Arts on Gator Nation Giving Day

Gator Nation Giving Day (GNGD) is a 24-hour give-a-thon that emphasizes the number of gifts as opposed to the amount raised. This means that any size gift matters — so, whether a Giving Day gift is one dollar or ten thousand: every donation that supports the Arts is a win in our book. 

Please save the date to support UF College of the Arts on Thursday, February 16, 2023. You can choose your preferred area of giving and watch the numbers rise in real-time! 

Just can’t wait until the big day to show your Gator pride? You can also make a “pre-gift” to a College of the Arts fund today by clicking here and make a gift to the fund of your choice.