Alumni 2016 to present

Maia Schechter – Dance ’18 is originally from Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. She is currently living in New York City, and in the Fall of 2022 joined the Broadway cast of The Lion King.
Maia began dancing at the age of 3. Aa a Linehan Artist Scholar, she graduated with honors, receiving the Outstanding Senior in Performance and Choreography award. Maia furthered her training by participating in various programs including The Contemporary School at Jacob’s Pillow and The Gaga Intensive in Tel Aviv, Israel. From 2015 to 2018, Maia performed with professional dance company, Baltimore Dance Project. In 2018, she was selected by the board of American College Dance Association to present her choreography at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the ACDA National Festival.

Animation artist Ezra Pailer of Eldersburg , pictured in his studio Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, created a promotional short for the upcoming Chesapeake Film Festival.

Animation artist Ezra Pailer – Animation/Interactive media ’19, pictured above in his studio in September 2021. Ezra lent his talents and enthusiasm to create an original animation promoting the 2021 Chesapeake Film Festival. He won first place in last year’s virtual festival for his work, “Willow.” Willow was made in 2019 as his UMBC senior thesis film and won an Official Selection to the 2019 Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Festival. Photo by Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times

Jolee Cohen – Acting ’18 was in the production of Pandora, with her company members at The Chaos Collective, written by Irene Benitez and directed/conceived by Sydney Dennison. She played Pandora, and the shows were at the Peristyle in Prospect Park on October 3rd and 4th. She recently performed as Ellie Marino in the new play, The Painting, written by Nicola Mocciaro and directed by Noah Pattillo. You can watch the full performance right here! Photo by Maya Wechsler

Mallorie Ortega – Visual Arts and Theatre Design and Production ‘16 is a writer, director, and producer best known for musical feature film The Girl Who Left Home.  The film won the Audience Award at CAAMFest FORWARD, and the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Mallorie independently produced the film after gaining the courage from her mentors in the Television Academy Foundation Directing Program in 2016. She shadowed directors from Jimmy Kimmel Live, NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, and Hairspray Live. Mallorie was a finalist of the Disney | ABC Directing Fellowship of 2018, and is slated to direct a feature film for Viola Davis’ production company, JuVee Productions. She was in the Spring 2020 cohort of the THEatre ACCELERATOR, developing The Girl Who Left Home as a staged musical under the mentorship of the Tony Award winning Broadway Producers responsible for An American in Paris and Memphis.
Before turning to film and television, Mallorie was heavily involved in Producing and Designing theatre productions at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She kept with her hobbies of breakdancing, singing, cooking, and working at the family restaurant. Mallorie moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and earned her MFA in Film and TV Production. Her new obsession is lyric writing. Though she’s enjoying the LA sun, she constantly craves Maryland crabs and her mom’s home cooking.

Sam Winnie – Music ’16 graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Music Composition. He continued his graduate studies in music composition at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Netherlands. Sam is currently based in Atlanta. Composer, Musician, Producer, and Audio Engineer, Sam specializes in writing bespoke music and sound design for games, podcasts, and other sorts of digital media. His music spans a wide range of styles from classical chamber ensembles to indie rock and synth pop.
Sam is the Audio Engineer at Rich Hart Global Studios and Composer and Engineer at Helpful Goat Gaming.

Ryan Bailey – Dance ‘16
started his dance training at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he received the Linehan Artist Scholarship as well as being awarded the Outstanding Senior in Choreography. Equally interested in performing and choreographing, he has been highlighted as a performer in the American College Dance Association 2014 Festival. This success continued when his choreography was selected for the ACDA Gala performance in 2016.  Ryan’s works have also been featured in theaters like Symphony Space and the Ailey Theater in NYC for festivals like Young Choreographers and Artists in Motion. Ryan graduated from UMBC with a bachelor’s degree in dance and has trained at intensives like Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, NW Dance Project Launch, Gallim summer study, and the Gaga intensive in NYC. Professionally, Ryan has had the opportunity to dance with Baltimore Dance Project and Howard County Ballet. In 2016, he also started his dance company, Pacing Bodies, who have performed in NYC and all around the DMV. Currently residing in New York, Ryan is dancing for MADBOOTS DANCE Company under the direction of Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz, performing works at the Joyce Theater and Jacob’s Pillow in 2019.

Sarah  Miller – INDS Visual Anthropology ’17 has done freelance work for the National YoungArts Foundation and has worked as the assistant to Magnum photographer Diana Markosian on photo shoots in Los Angeles California, Tulsa Oklahoma, and most recently, Havana, Cuba. Currently she is the assistant producer for the project Santa Barbara, a multimedia piece by Markosian that will be exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in June 2020. She was recently accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop, an annual workshop and portfolio review held for a select group of emerging photographers. Sarah credits the Linehan Artist Scholarship for encouraging her interdisciplinary education in the arts and social sciences and making possible the photographic work she did while in college, which helped her get where she is today.

Alexis “Ally” Kocerhan – Theatre, Gender + Women’s Studies ’16 has an M.A. in Aesthetics and Politics from the California Institute of the Arts. Her graduate studies included her participation in the transnational art project El Acercamiento, in which she co-produced and performed in the collaborative performance piece called “Acto,” which debuted in Havana, Cuba at Fábrica de Arte Cubano.  Her masters thesis, titled “On Hamilton: an analysis of a musical and its artistic, social, and political importance,” explores the musical Hamilton through the lenses of aesthetic theory, performance studies, and intersectionality. Ally is currently working in the Baltimore theatre and community arts circuit, cultivating her professional practice as an interdisciplinary artist and scholar.

Sarah Schmitz – Dance and Biological Sciences ‘17 has sought to utilize both of her degrees post-graduation. She is currently employed full time as an Associate Scientist in the Gene Sequencing and Analysis group at QPS, LLC in Newark, DE and teaches dance part-time at Relevé in Rising Sun, MD. At UMBC, Sarah took interest in choreography and was awarded Outstanding Senior in Choreography by the dance department. While there she also had the opportunity to create multiple choreographic pieces, present at the university’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day, and have one of her pieces performed and adjudicated in the American College Dance Association’s Mid Atlantic Conference in 2017. She kept up with her choreographic passion by creating Forward Movements, a music and dance performance company that she and co-director Stephen Johnson III, another UMBC Linehan Artist alumnus, founded together. The company of UMBC alumni and students had its first performance in May of 2018, and is planning to continue performing in the Baltimore area.

Emily Dawson – Music ‘16 received her degree in Music Performance and Music Education. Shortly after graduation, she moved to San Diego where she now works as a Music Teaching Artist with the San Diego Youth Symphony,  teaching flute to elementary, middle, and high school students. In 2017, she began teaching music in the California public schools. She currently teaches general, choral, and instrumental music at Juarez-Lincoln Elementary School and maintains a private teaching studio. She feels indebted to the Linehans for helping her reach her professional goals and for the wonderful experiences she had in the Linehan Artist scholars program.

Rachel Lum – Dance ’16 is entering her third year as the Assistant Center Director at Mathnasium, Denville, New Jersey. She is also a Personal Trainer and conducts both in-home sessions and in-studio group fitness training. She loves both of her jobs dearly and is grateful that they have helped her cultivate her love for teaching and continuous challenge of the mind and body. She plans to move to New York City and attend the Flatiron Coding School Bootcamp to become a developer. While she attends the Flatiron Coding School, she will continue her job as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. She takes pride in being self-sufficient and well-rounded, and is excited to begin a new adventure.

Hailey Lain – Visual Arts ’16 received a BFA in Traditional Animation and is currently working in the television animation industry, having worked on projects such as Disney XD’s Pickle & Peanut as an effects animator and Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a key character animator.  She has also done professional character design and animation work with Copernicus Studios for an as-of-yet unannounced project.  In addition to her studio work and occasional self-employed commission work, Hailey also maintains a YouTube channel under the artist name “SquigglyDigg” where she regularly shares her vocal work and artistic process, as well as various personal projects and collaborations with other professional musicians and animators.  She aims to become the director on a cartoon series aired on a major network.

Marina Nicholas – Dance ’16 graduated with a BA in Dance and a BS in Biological Sciences. Since graduating, she has coordinated clinical research and taught dance classes for children in the Baltimore area. In 2017, she performed with Ryan Bailey’s dance company, Pacing Bodies, in the Collective’s Baltimore Dance Invitational and in the Maryland Council for Dance’s annual festival, as well as in the company’s show This is Momentary.

Melissa Hudson – Dance ‘18 graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual BA degree in Dance and Economics. Over her eight semesters at UMBC, Melissa performed in over 30 original dance works, including in the Baltimore Dance Project February performances and at the annual American College Dance Association Conference. While at UMBC Melissa also created four of her own original works, her Senior Capstone choreography being presented at the annual BIDA Choreographer’s Showcase and URCAD. Melissa has also performed in the debut company performances of several, local contemporary dance companies, including Pacing Bodies, Forward Movements, and the Alternative Dance Project. Melissa has worked as a Stage Manager for the UMBC Dance Department, and as the Assistant Rehearsal Director and choreographer for the 2017 Howard Community College dance production Kinetic Canvas: Salvador Dali. Outside of graduating as a Linehan Artist Scholar, Melissa also received the honors of Outstanding Senior in Dance Performance, Outstanding Service to the Dance Department, and acting as the President of the Dance Council of Majors throughout her Senior year. Melissa is incredibly grateful to the Linehan family for granting her the opportunities to study dance at a collegiate level, as well as discover the field of economics. Following graduation, Melissa moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and started her career working as a Contracting Associate in the healthcare payments industry. Melissa hopes to build a career combining both economics and dance, such as establishing and managing her own dance studio.

Nerissa Vasconcells – Dance ’17 graduated Magna Cum Laude in December with majors in Dance and Environmental Studies and a minor in Psychology. Nerissa is currently an intern at Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. She plans to pursue a career in the performing arts or in the wildlife conservation field.
While at UMBC, Nerissa performed in over 40 pieces with the dance department and also with Baltimore Dance Project. She was also a pointe soloist with the Howard County Ballet. In the summer of 2015, Nerissa received the UMBC Department of Dance Summer Research and Study Award, and presented a piece at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD) that following spring. She was chosen as the UMBC Dance Department’s Outstanding Senior in Performance, and an Outstanding Senior in the Geography & Environmental Systems Department. At the American College Dance Festival, a piece she performed in was selected for the final gala presentation. While in college, Nerissa was a teacher, choreographer, rehearsal assistant, and mentor for students at the Edna Lee Dance Studio. She taught ballet, pointe, lyrical, jazz, and contemporary and ran rehearsals for the competition team and The Nutcracker for five years. During her last semester at UMBC, Nerissa was selected to be an Animal Rescue intern at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. During her time there, she worked directly with the Behavioral Husbandry Aides, Animal Health & Welfare team, Veterinarians, and the Manager of the Rescue program. She worked with a Grey seal, and several turtles, including Kemps Ridley and Loggerhead species.

Manuel Ayala Sapelli – Music ’17 – Recording Engineering, Jazz Bass Performance went crazy after graduation and renovated an old cotton mill with a couple of friends. For some reason, people with funny looking instruments and wobbly voices kept showing up so Manuel started charging them and giving them recordings of themselves to remind them how ridiculous they seemed. Apparently they liked that so he kept the charade up. Manuel loves filming hardwood floors so he decided to drive to concert halls all around DC, MD and VA to grab some nice footage of the stages. Unfortunately there were a lot of people on the stages all the time blocking the view and singing so his recordings never seemed to capture the true beauty of the floor. His work capturing stage flooring in its natural state has been interrupted by the Virginia and Maryland All State Choir, Band, and Orchestra concerts, the DC Congressional Choir, SNO, and an absurd amount of high school and collegiate student recitals. Even the Virginia Symphony Orchestra with the Medical Music Group has blocked his view. Tired of being interrupted by orchestras he traveled to the mountains of North Carolina where he found an outdoor Concert Hall. When he returned the next day with his camera gear he found himself in the middle of the Brevard Music Festival.
Being interrupted by musicians gave Manuel a hate for music that he wanted to share with the world. He started showing up to live concerts and setting up sound reinforcement with the intent of ruining the performance but found that he was awful at it. He continues to fail at ruining shows for bands such as The Craig Gildner Big Band, Haley’s Swingtett, Fairlee and the Fairweather Five, and other guest groups at the DC Lindy Exchange and Capital Swingout events. He legitimizes this business by also running sound for professional acapella groups and even judging competitions when he can sneak onto the panel.
Manuel is the proud founder of Subtle Nod, a production house for classical recording and reinforcement.

Stephanie Castner – Dance and Media & Communication Studies ‘16 During her time at UMBC, Stephanie spent the summer of 2014 training at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City as a member of their Summer Professional Semester. Following graduation, Stephanie moved to New York City, where she is continuing to train and pursue her dance career. Over the past year she has performed in various works with BEings Dance Company, under contemporary choreographer Emily Bufferd. She also works as an assistant alongside teacher/choreographer Shelly Hutchinson. This past summer, Stephanie worked for the Joffrey Ballet School, teaching contemporary dance classes for their summer intensive students.

Emily Hinz – Music ’16  graduated with a BA in Music Performance and Music Education. Shortly after graduation, she moved to San Diego where she now works as a Music Teaching Artist with the San Diego Youth Symphony, teaching clarinet, flute, and saxophone to elementary school students. As she looks back on her college education at UMBC, she realizes how indebted she is to the Linehans for helping her reach her teaching goals and for the wonderful experiences she had in the Linehan program.

Jeremy Mayo – Theatre ’17 is a graduate of the Linehan Artist Scholars Program and Theatre Department at UMBC where he focused in lighting design and technology. He has gone on to work professionally at theatres across the nation including the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Everyman Theatre, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Florida Rep. It’s Jeremy’s intention to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design to advance his career as a designer and to rekindle empathy between people by highlighting shared experience through story telling.