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DCCCD Award Winners Create the Art of Life

​Fordham award winner Andrew Jones Phinisee and art instructor Annie Chrietzberg
​Fordham award winner Andrew Jones Phinisee and art instructor Annie Chrietzberg

​Contact: Kathye Hammontree

For immediate release — May 5, 2014

(DALLAS) — Without art, life is a blank canvas — without color, without lines, without music, without words. Life is celebrated through the arts, and that’s what a select group of students from the Dallas County Community College District have done — created works of art that make life special.

Those 15 students were recognized recently during a special event at El Centro College that included an exhibit of works by visual arts students, plus a stage performance that featured music and writing awardees. One student from each of the colleges received the Cecil Wallace Fordham Award in Visual Arts and the Alice Jones Bearding Award in Music. One student also received the Eleanor Jones Award in Creative Writing.

The awards are made possible through endowments donated by Eleanor and George Jones and their family through the DCCCD Foundation, each carrying a cash award of $500.

“DCCCD appreciates so much that Mrs. Eleanor Jones and her children and grandchildren have continued the tradition of honoring their family and our students through these awards,” said Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s new chancellor. “The family’s dedication to the creative and performing arts survives in the works and dreams of our outstanding students. Gifts such as these are a lasting legacy that honor both the donors and the recipients.”

The Cecil Wallace Fordham Award in Visual Arts was endowed in 1979 by Eleanor Fordham Jones and her husband, George Rather Jones, in memory of her father. The award honors Cecil Fordham, an automotive mechanical engineer and veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who built furniture as a hobby and who also had a lifelong appreciation for beautiful design. The award is given annually to an outstanding visual arts major at each of the seven colleges in the DCCCD system.

This year’s visual arts honorees (listed with hometown, college and major) are:

  • Kenya Diaz of Dallas, Brookhaven College, visual arts/printing;
  • Phillip Washington of Ovilla, Texas, Cedar Valley College, studio arts/print making;
  • Amy He of Mesquite, Eastfield College, communication/graphic design;
  • Andrew Phinisee of Dallas, El Centro College, graphic design and fashion design;
  • Erik Espinoza of Duncanville, Mountain View College, visual communications;
  • Oscar Delgado of Lewisville, North Lake College, digital art and video; and
  • Adolfo Hernandez of Dallas, Richland College, studio art and education.

The Alice Jones Berding Award in Music honors its namesake for her years of teaching piano both privately and in Dallas schools; it was established in 1977 through a gift from Berding’s brother, George Rather Jones, and his wife, Eleanor Fordham Jones. Continued by the family after Mrs. Jones’ death in 1981, the award is now in its 37th year.

Awarded annually to an outstanding music major at each college, with preference to piano students, this year’s academic honorees are:
  • Clara McLain of Dallas, Brookhaven College, music/classical guitar performance;
  • Deborah Beene of Grand Prairie, Cedar Valley College, vocal performance;
  • Kwinton Gray of Dallas, Eastfield College, music/music education;
  • Laisa Leal of Dallas, El Centro College, music composition;
  • Rebecca Rice of Dallas, Mountain View College, vocal performance/speech pathology;
  • Helen Marincel of Flower Mound, North Lake College, music; and
  • Rachel Trevino of Garland, Richland College, vocal performance/music education.

The Eleanor Jones Award in Creative Writing, established in 2002 in honor of Mrs. Jones’ 75th birthday by her family, is presented annually to one creative writing student representing the entire district who excels in prose or poetry. This year’s academic honoree is Ashley Balcazar of Carrollton, who attends Brookhaven College and is majoring in English and French.

For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation office by phone at (214) 378-1536 or by email at
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Fordham award winner Kenya Diaz and art instructor Chong Chu
Fordham award winner Kenya Diaz and art instructor Chong Chu


2014-2015 DCCCD Berding/Fordham/Jones Arts Awards

Student Awardees Biographical Sketches

Cecil Wallace Fordham Award in Visual Arts

Kenya Diaz – Dallas resident Kenya Diaz is a graduate of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She plans to earn an associate degree from Brookhaven and then bachelor’s and master’s degrees in printing so that she can become a college-level instructor. Diaz says, “The instantaneous nature of both painting and drawing has enabled me to express my own emotions. Working on canvas or paper, I let myself be vulnerable, every mark evolving into new discovery and further questioning. I work primarily from the human figure because I am captivated by its animate and dimensional qualities.” She has exhibited her works at Mountain View and Brookhaven colleges and was one of a select group of student artists who participated in the 2014 League for Innovation in the Community College exhibition and competition at Mountain View. The works she selected to exhibit at El Centro for the awards presentation program all were oil on canvas and were titled “Interwoven,” “Self-Portrait” and “Introspection.”

Phillip Washington – Cedar Valley College student Phillip Washington lives in Ovilla, Texas, and studies studio art with a concentration in print making. He plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in fine arts from either the University of Texas at Austin or the University of Dallas. An Eagle Scout and a member of the academic honorary Phi Theta Kappa (as vice president of communication), Washington believes in service to others and success in school. Eventually, he wants to teach at the college level. He says, “Printmaking, to me, is like finding Miss Right … . Printmaking is an extension of who I am; without it, I am just a clutter of ideas.” Washington’s pieces in the awards art exhibit included a woodcut titled “Paradise Found”; a hand-colored etching titled “Lucky Koi”; and a hand-colored woodcut called “Mother of Two.”

Amy He – Amy He lives in Mesquite and attends Eastfield College, where she is majoring in communication design. An art student for eight years, she plans to finish her associate degree at Eastfield and then transfer to the University of North Texas to earn a bachelor’s degree and eventually become a graphic designer. “With technology saturating society so completely, I am excited to be able to translate my skills into a career in visual arts,” says He. She adds, “Education is my key to a successful and secure future. My important decisions are determined by my love for fine arts.” He’s three charcoal pieces in the awards exhibit were titled “Sweet Dreams,” “A Day at the Park” and “Paradox.”

Andrew Phinisee – Dallas resident Andrew Phinisee is a graphic design major at El Centro College. He plans to become a freelance graphic designer and perhaps explore fashion design as well. A graduate of Emmet J. Conrad High School, he exhibited and won an honorable mention in the 2013 Big Dreams Student Exhibition at El Centro. He says, “Although I have appreciation for many different art styles, the practicality of linear design and the warm, childlike whimsy of impressionism are what leave the biggest imprint on me. A majority of my favorite works come from 19th-century impressionism by artists like Claude and Edward Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissaro and Gustave Caillebotte.” Washington showed two works in the art exhibit at El Centro; they were “Delicate Study,” mounted chenille stems; and “Together,” oil pastel on canvas.

Erik Espinoza – Mountain View College art major Erik Espinoza has worked as a self-taught graphic designer for five years, and some of his work was chosen to be part of a rotating exhibit in the Founders’ Foyer of the Dallas County Community College District’s administration building in south Dallas. A native of Mexico, the Duncanville resident plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in visual communications from the University of Texas at Arlington and to become a professional graphic designer. He says, “My work is expressive of its technique. It starts with a last-minute idea that is rapidly grasped and constructed in a fast manner, and parts are added or removed as they seem fit.” His works in the El Centro exhibit were: a charcoal on paper titled “Rick Clipz”; an acrylic on canvas called “Untitled”; and a larger acrylic on canvas also “Untitled.”

Oscar Delgado – Lewisville resident Oscar Delgado attends North Lake College, where he is majoring in digital arts and video. Delgado, who was born in Mexico and moved to Texas when he was 10 years old, is studying art, video and computer graphics. He wants to pursue a career in 3-D art animation, and he plans to earn an associate degree from North Lake and a bachelor’s degree so that he can work in animation and the graphics field. Delgado has shown his work in the League for Innovation in the Community College student art show; has published his digital print “Taboo” in Duck Soup, North Lake’s student art and literary magazine; and has produced two videos titled “Backyard” and “Logo” that were chosen for a video showcase at the Texas Theater. “Art has helped me increase my creativity and problem-solving skills,” he says. Delgado’s works in the awards art exhibit all were acrylic on canvas; they were titled “Numb,” “Box” and “Brain on Toast.”

Adolfo Hernandez – Dallas resident Adolfo Hernandez attends Richland College, where he is studying studio art and education. The Monterrey, Mexico, native eventually wants to teach and also to continue an active career in art. A graduate of Lloyd B. Berkner High School in Richardson, Hernandez has won a number of art awards. He was named the 2011 Cottonwood Emerging Artist at the Eisemann Center in Richardson (where he also exhibited his work); won the 2009 and 2010 gold seal in the Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) statewide Texas competition; and was a 2011 VASE state nominee. “My art grows with me, and I believe that it shows how far I have managed to come. I believe my art still has so much room for improvement and, with dedication and hard work, that I can do anything with my talent,” says Hernandez, who exhibited three pieces in the El Centro awards show: an acrylic titled “Richland Studio”; an acrylic called “The Bar”; and a ceramic and acrylic titled “Mi Corazon.”


Berding award winners
The Berding award winners take the stage at El Centro College.

Alice Jones Berding Award in Music

Clara McLain – Clara McLain, a resident of Dallas, currently studies music and classical guitar performance at Brookhaven College. McLain, who wants to pursue a career in classical guitar performance, entered a national guitar competition in 2013 at the University of Indiana, where she placed fourth. In 2013, she was a Classical Minds Competition finalist (held at the University of Texas at Dallas), where she also was a second-place division winner. In spring 2014, she entered the classical guitar competition at the University of Texas at Dallas, and she is a featured soloist for the Brookhaven String Ensemble, performing the “Vivaldi Guitar Concerto in D major.” During the awards program at El Centro, McLain played two pieces on classical guitar: “Una Limosna Por el Amor de Dios” by A. Barrios and “Los Caujarios” by I. Figueredo.​

Deborah Beene – Cedar Valley College student Deborah Beene is studying performance and music composition. The Grand Prairie resident was a self-taught beginner in piano and has taken both private lessons in voice as well as classes at Cedar Valley. “Vocal performance is my passion,” she says, “but teaching and helping others find their passion makes for a close second!” Beene, who was home-schooled, adds, “Although I’ve loved singing for as long as I can remember, at Cedar Valley my relationship with music has become more like a tapestry. It is woven into me to make a beautiful work of art that, if separated, would leave nothing but a mess of colors.” She sang three pieces in mezzo soprano for the performance at El Centro titled: “Loveliest of Trees” by John Duke; “Sleep” by Ivor Gurney; and “Botschaft” by Johannes Brahms.

​Kwinton Gray – Eastfield College music major Kwinton Gray started playing the keyboard at the tender age of 11. He plans to use those skills to teach, go on tour and produce music after college and also to write music for other artists. Gray, a Dallas resident, plans to transfer to the University of North Texas to pursue a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies after he completes his associate degree at Eastfield. “My goal is to travel the world playing music, produce and arrange for Grammy-award winning/nominated artists and become a jazz piano instructor,” he says. Gray has played at a number of events as a member of and soloist for the Eastfield Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo. His performance selections on piano for the awards program were “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis, “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock and “500 Miles High” by Chick Corea.​

Laisa Leal – Laisa Leal has studied flute for 10 years and cello for one; she has brought her skills to El Centro College, where she is working on her associate degree in music. She plans to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas and to pursue a career that involves composing music for video games. The Dallas resident helps with local volunteer orchestra groups that play at animation and gaming conventions, and she works at a video game store while she takes classes at El Centro. During the awards performance, she played “Sonata in A minor I. Overture” by G.P. Telemann on her flute.

Rebecca Rice – Rebecca Rice, a Dallas resident and Mountain View College student, began playing the piano at age five and has been singing in a choir since she entered fifth grade. She is pursuing an associate degree at Mountain View and also has plans to become a speech pathologist so that she can work with children who have disabilities. Home-schooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, Rice began taking dual credit courses from Mountain View when she was a sophomore in high school; she expects to graduate in May 2014. A member of the vocal ensemble at Mountain View, Rice says, “I find that the more time I spend studying music, the more I grow to love making music. I believe that I will always enjoy music, and I hope to continue studying it when I transfer to a university.” During the awards performance program at El Centro, she sang “Alma del core” by Antonio Caldara.​

Helen Marincel – North Lake College student Helen Marincel is majoring in music. The Flower Mound resident has taken four years of piano, four years of voice and spent five years directing her church choir. Her career plans include becoming a church music director and a music teacher or salesperson. Marincel says, “I want to be a music director at a church in order to enhance the worship experience of others and to combine this career with a teaching job — also to enrich people’s personal lives.” She sang two selections during the awards program: “Sebben crudele” by Antonio Caldara and “Der Gang Zum Liebchen” by Brahms.

​Rachel Trevino – Garland resident Rachel Trevino is a vocal music major at Richland College. She would like to become a public school choir director after she completes her associate degree from Richland and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Texas. “Music is a huge part of my life,” she explains. “When I am angry, sad or happy, I sing. Through my singing, I can share my story with others. When I am finished with a piece and I see the faces of my audience, I feel satisfaction and happiness, bringing my voice for them to hear.” Trevino, a soprano and member of Richland’s Chamber Singers, performed “Pie Jesu” from the Faure Requiem by Gabriel Faure during the awards program at El Centro College.

Eleanor Fordham Jones Award in Creative Writing

Jones award winner reads a poem







Jones award winner Ashley Balcazar reads her poem 'A Lingual Celebration.'

Ashley Balcazar – Carrollton resident Ashley Balcazar attends Brookhaven College and is majoring in English and French. She plans to finish her degree at Brookhaven and then earn a bachelor’s degree in those fields so that she can write both fiction and freelance nonfiction as a career. She says, “As a working mother returning to school, it has been a challenge to balance educational, familial and civic pursuits. In addition to school and work, I also serve on the PTA board as historian and communications chair at my son’s elementary school … . Writing has helped me make sense of the world around me and has been an integral part of my life since elementary school.” Balcazar serves as co-president of the Windmill Writers, Brookhaven’s student creative writing club, and serves as editor of Moulin Review, the club’s student-run online and print literary journal. During the awards program, she read her poem “A Lingual Celebration.”

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