Awards & Honors
Theatre MSU students and faculty nominated for ACTF awards

Students and faculty in Mississippi State University’s Department of Communication are nominated for nine awards for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. 

Theatre MSU members were nominated in Region Four of the KC-ACTF competition for their work on “Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga,” a production written and directed by MSU theater faculty member Tonya Hays, who was nominated for a Faculty Certificate of Merit for playwriting and directing.

“Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga” was developed and performed in partnership with the MSU Northern Gulf Institute and featured handmade, life-sized puppets. The production is MSU’s annual Theatre for Young Audiences play, and elementary students from surrounding areas were invited to attend multiple showings.

“We, of course, know that our students are excellent,” said Jesse Wade, a faculty member in the Department of Communication. “But it’s always gratifying to see that excellence recognized by outside entities. From the beginning, our students took all of the challenges that came with rehearsing for a different space and working with large puppets and made the show come alive to be something that is not only entertaining but teaches children about a subject that will be extremely important to their generation,” said Wade.

Leta R. McCullough, a senior geosciences major from Flora, MS, received a nomination for the allied design and technologies award for her work with props and puppets. McCullough and other students worked closely with guest artist, Tim Baker, to build realistic puppets from scratch.

Senior business information systems student Paul T. Sullivan, from Destrehan, LA, received a nomination for lighting design. Starkville, MS, native Walker G. Harris, a senior studying industrial technology, was nominated for an award for sound design. Department of Communication faculty member Jesse Wade, received a nomination for a Faculty Certificate of Merit for technical direction.

Both C. Barnes Locke, a senior majoring in communication from Starkville, MS, and Meg D. McDougal, a junior communication major and native of Gulfport, MS, were nominated for the Irene Ryan acting award for their performances as various characters in the production.

Other faculty members nominated for awards include Matthew Webb, an assistant clinical professor in communication, nominated for scenic design, and Melanie Harris, an instructor, costumer and director of theater operations for MSU’s communication department, nominated for costume design.

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Communication offers a bachelor of arts degree in five concentration areas: broadcast and digital journalism, communication and media studies, print and digital journalism, public relations, and theatre. For more, visit

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