Two UM alumni receive achievement awards

Published 10:20 am Friday, February 17, 2017

From Staff Reports

The University of Montevallo’s National Alumni Association recognized two alumni with the Natalie Molton Gibbons Awards.

Jason Styres received the 2017 Natalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award. Styres graduated from UM in 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting/Directing.

While at UM, Styres worked in several theatre productions, choreographing the mainstage productions of “Godspell” in 2004 and “Side Show” in 2006.

Styres was also highly active in College Night, leading Purple Side to victory as male leader in 2006.

After graduation, Styres moved to New York City to pursue a career in theater. Styres steadily worked his way up to a full casting director with credits in the Tony Award winning “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” the HBO documentary “Six by Sondheim” and the popular TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Most recently, Styres began work as the casting director of “Puffs,” an off-Broadway production spoofing Harry Potter. He is the co-chapter president of the NYC Area Club of UMNAA.

The Montevallo alumnus also volunteers his abilities as a supporter and consultant for the galas and benefits of the Cancer Support Community, which offers emotional and social assistance to cancer patients.

“Jason’s work ethic, caring nature, loyalty and commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists and audiences represents the best qualities of what we try to teach our theatre students at UM, as well as the values of our larger University community,” Department of Theatre Chair Dr. David Callaghan said.

Class of 2003 alumni Stephanie Comer Newton is the recipient of the 2017 Natalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award.

Newton graduated magna cum laude from UM with a degree in mass communication. She lead an extremely active campus life, serving as president of her senior class, a sister of Alpha Gamma Delta, a Housing & Residence Life assistant and a staff writer for the student newspaper, The Alabamian.

After graduation, Newton began her first job as the communications coordinator for Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development.

In 2006, Newton switched careers to begin the first of many fruitful years in the publishing business. Starting with international Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc., now owned by global publisher HarperCollins, Newton began coordinating media events and promotions for several influential books in the genre.