Graduating student Mishal Syed honored among other creatives in second annual competition

June 11, 2024
Jessica Wolf I UCLA

The Chancellor’s Council on the Arts is marking its commencement competition, selecting one graduate student and one undergraduate artist to be named Class Artists for 2024 and naming six students as honorable mentions.

Now in its second installment, the program recognizes students whose work showcases the presence and purpose of the arts at UCLA. The initiative accepts entries spanning the disciplines of poetry, painting, dance, filmmaking and music composition.

Graduating student submissions from the academic units represented on the Chancellor’s Council on the Arts — UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television and the divisions of humanities and social sciences in the UCLA College — are reviewed by a panel of alumni jurors and judged on originality, aesthetics and potential reach and impact. Each honoree receives a financial award.

“The Chancellor’s Council on the Arts is immensely proud to celebrate the extraordinary talents of our students,” said Eileen Strempel, chair of the council and inaugural dean of the school of music. “The creativity and perspectives showcased by this year’s cohort of winners, and indeed by every student who submitted work to this competition, are a testament to the vibrant artistic community at UCLA. We are delighted to recognize their achievements and look forward to witnessing their continued contributions to the cultural landscape.”

The 2024 Class Artists and projects:

  • Mishal Syed, graduating with an undergraduate degree in English, is being recognized for her hybrid collection of fiction and poetry that explores themes of immigration, displacement, girlhood, intergenerational trauma and sisterhood through the lens of magical realism and fairytales, accompanied by her own hand-drawn illustrations.
  • Kaith Karishma, graduating with an master of fine arts degree in production/directing from the School of Theater, Film and Television is being honored as the writer, director and producer of “Poetica for the Living,” a short film that follows a traveler sharing time and stories with others they meet along the way as humanity faces imminent climate collapse.


The jurors also selected six students for honorable mention:

  • Jasmine Bailey, graduating with a degree in musicology from the Herb Alpert School of Music, for “Negative Space,” the forthcoming full-length album she wrote, performed and co-produced. Bailey harnesses synesthetic poetry, R&B grooves and soundscapes with lyrics that approach themes of isolation, healing, identity and transformation. Here’s a sneak peek.
  • Maia Faith Hadaway is graduating with a degree in art from the School of the Arts and Architecture and a minor in African American studies. She shared selections of her work using oil paint on canvas and wood cuts. Her practice is rooted in expressing layers of identity in her subjects and creating connection and empathy for viewers. She is also the artist behind “A Seat at the Table,” the 18-by-7-foot mural depicting Black Bruins from past to present that was unveiled in 2021 in the Black Bruin Research Center.
  • Yoni Fogelman, graduating with a degree in music composition from the Herb Alpert School of Music, was honored for a piece titled “The Everlasting Flame,” which he describes as “a musical setting of the two prayers that Jews recite while lighting the Chanukah candles.” Its official video was performed by UCLA Chamber Singers.
  • Sierra Falconer, graduating with an MFA in production/directing from the School of Theater, Film and Television, shared selections from her feature project, a collection of four short films occurring on and around her hometown of rural Green Lake, Michigan, filmed over the course of one summer.
  • Pedro Murcia, earning an MFA in the producer’s program at the School of Theater, Film and Television, is acknowledged for “Azul,” a short film he wrote, directed and produced about a young man who juggles working as street vendor in Guatemala City and raising his younger brother. The film draws on Murcia’s community-driven approach to filmmaking and his undergraduate studies in Guatemala City.
  • Aquilah Ohemeng, who will earn her graduate degree in choreographic inquiry from the School of the Arts and Architecture, is being recognized for her piece “PASS US NOT: Holy Ghosted,” an evening-length group performance that reimagines Alvin Ailey’s work “Revelations” through the lens of frustrations and aspirations that Generation Z members navigate in a post-pandemic United States.


Last year’s inaugural winners of the Class Artist competition were singer-songwriter Paravi Das and filmmaker Jahmil Eady. This spring, Das released her first self-titled EP of original music and embarked on a Southern California tour. She was also featured in Spotify billboards in Times Square and downtown Los Angeles celebrating Asian American Heritage Month. In October, Eady was named a recipient of the NewNarratives Award from the nonprofit group NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, with a grant to support further development on her narrative short, “Haint.”

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