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May 29, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



WINSTON-SALEM – The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has announced the annual recipients of the prestigious William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarships, which pay for tuition, fees, room and board for four years of undergraduate study.

The Kenan Excellence Scholarship recipients for the Class of 2018, entering fall of 2014, are Emma Iacommeta of Hackensack, N.J., Sara Lozo of Sandy Springs, Ga.,  and Henry Wilen of Palo Alto, Calif., who will all study in the School of Design & Production; and Hassiem Muhammad of Columbia, S.C., and Hannah Myers of Cincinnati, Ohio, who will study in the School of Drama.

“We are proud to welcome these young artists who embody the qualities we value in citizen-artists: artistic ability, academic achievement, and commitment to serving their communities,” said UNCSA Provost David Nelson. “They have already distinguished themselves in many ways, and we know they will enrich our community.”

The awards were initially provided by a 2005 grant of $1 million from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and two grants ($225,000 in 2009 and $250,000 in 2010) from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Fund for the Arts, providing up to five awards per year.  In April 2011, The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust announced the school’s largest one-time private gift in the school’s history: a $6 million grant to endow the annual William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship program.

 “The Kenan Excellence Scholarships are among those creations of which we are most proud,” said Dr. Richard M. Krasno, executive director of The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and a director of The William R. Kenan, Jr. Fund for the Arts. “The Trust established this scholarship program, and the Kenan Fund for the Arts provided additional support, to demonstrate our confidence in the exceptional educational experience the University of North Carolina School of the Arts provides to talented student-artists from around the world.

It is our hope that these grants will stimulate others to join us by providing similar scholarship support for very talented students who wish to attend UNCSA,” Dr. Krasno added.

The Kenan Excellence Scholarships were first presented in 2006-07. Awards are renewable for four years as long as the student continues in good standing.

Criteria for the scholarship awards include the students’ abilities in their arts discipline, capacity to lead and motivate, extracurricular achievement, grade point average, and SAT or ACT test scores.  A review committee establishes a list of semifinalists, who are interviewed for selection as finalists. Awards are made to students judged to have the best potential as artist-scholars regardless of the program in which they enroll or their state of residence. 

Biographies for the recipients follow:



From top to bottom: Iacometa, Lozo, Muhammad, Myers, Wilen

Emma Iacometta will graduate June 23 from the Performing Arts Academy of the Bergen County Academies (BCA) in Hackensack, N.J, where she has completed four years of acting, dance, and theatre history classes along with an honors, advanced placement and international baccalaureate curriculum. She has worked as production stage manager, lighting crew, stagehand, and dresser in both community theatre and high school theatre. She currently serves as the artistic intern with NYC theatre company Less Than Rent.  Iacometta was nominated for Paper Mill Playhouse's Student Achievement Award as assistant director of Brigadoon at BCA. In May, she co-directed Horse Girls as part of BCA’s One-Act Play Festival. In 2013, she received the New Jersey Young Playwright’s Award for her play that followed a girl raised by lesbian mothers who meets her donor father. Iacometta was the president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and an active member of the National Honor Society. Last April, she participated in a study abroad trip to Athens, Greece where BCA students met with Greek students to compare modern American theatre and original Greek theatre. She works at the George Frey Center for the Arts as a sound and lighting technician.

Sara Lozo was born in Belgrade, Serbia, and moved to the United States when she was five years old. She is a graduate of North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs, Ga., completing a dual magnet program in art and science. She is a member of the Math Honor Society, played violin in the school orchestra, and was active in the school’s visual arts and technical theatre programs. Lozo began North Springs’ technical theatre program as a 10th grader, and worked as construction crew, assistant lighting designer, assistant stage manager, stage manager, assistance scenic designer, scenic designer, and assistant  technical director for theatre and dance productions. She is a member of the school’s chapter of the International Thespian Society and has competed in the Tech Olympics at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and the Tech Challenge at the Georgia Theatre Conference. She has been a Girl Scout since third grade, and has earned the Bronze Award, Silver Award and Gold Award. Lozo has worked as a lifeguard and has competed with school and community swim teams. As a volunteer, she has served foster children through Amy’s Holiday Party, has worked with Heritage Green to produce local festivals, has participated with women’s networking groups Possible Woman and ProWIN, and has helped to rehabilitate neglected and abused horses through Save the Horses. 

Hassiem Muhammad is a native of Columbia, S.C., and a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. He is a winner in the theatre division of the National YoungArts Foundation. Muhammad has performed the roles of Johnny in A Hat Full of Rain, Danny in Danny in the Deep Blue Sea, Cory in Fences, Booth in Topdog/Underdog, and Henry in Race. He has completed more than 300 hours of community service with Americorps, and is an Eagle Scout. A member of his school’s yearbook and multicultural clubs, he is co-founder and choreographer for the FYA Dance Crew. His other interests include Hung-Gar Kung Fu, acrobatic yoga and modern and hip hop dance. He is on the dean’s list.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Hannah Myers is also a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (see Hassiem Muhammad, above), where she is active in Connecting Arts Through Service (CATS), a member of the student council, a resident assistant, and vice president of the National Business Alliance. She organized and performed in the Martin Luther King Week of Service Celebration at the Governor’s School. Myers completed her first two years of high school at St. Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, Where she maintained straight A’s in honors courses. At St. Ursula, she was nominated for a city-wide theatre award in her freshman year. She advanced to the final round of Overture Theatre’s competition in her sophomore year. While working at a Cincinnati coffeehouse she initiated and gained the owner’s permission to donate leftover bread to local homeless shelters. Myers is a member of the National Honor Society.  

Henry Wilen graduated from Palo Alto High School (Paly) in Palo Alto, Calif., where he is a member of International Thespian Society Troupe #909, an International Honor Thespian, and a member of the student board as student technical director. He was lighting designer for the school’s productions of Much Ado About Nothing, The Crucible, Into the Woods, and Twelfth Night, as well as Opera Classics for West Bay Opera, The Tempest for The Pear Avenue Theatre, and Body of Water for A Theatre Near U. He was assistant lighting designer on Otello, The Magic Flute and Tosca for West Bay Opera. He has worked as an electrician for Paly Theatre, TheatreWorks, Palo Alto Players, West Bay Opera, The Lyric Theatre of San Jose, and Renegade Theatre Experiment. Wilen has earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level) twice, recognizing more than 1300 hours of community service. He is a two-time first place winner in the lighting design individual event at the California State Thespian Festival for his designs for Into the Woods and Twelfth Night. Other awards include an honorable mention in the Show Us Your ETC video contest, and nominee for Student Achievement in Technical Theatre at the 2013 Stage Top Honor Awards. Wilen is also an active performer in Paly theatre, playing Jamie and a member of the Cockney Quartet in My Fair Lady, and the Baker in Into the Woods. As a member of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus for 11 years, he has toured nationally and internationally in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Cuba, and other locations, and has performed with San Francisco Opera, Vance George, and other groups around the bay area. He has played violin for fourteen years, studying with Marjorie Lin. He has achieved the Music Teachers' Association of California (MTAC) Certificate of Merit level nine.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.