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Melissa Penkava Koza is a Theatrical Costume Specialist based in Wichita, Kansas. She is the Costume Shop Manager for the School of Performing Arts at Wichita State University, and she spends her summers as Head of Costumes for Music Theatre Wichita. She holds an MFA in Theatrical Design and Production from the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee.

Melissa finds the most joy in bringing students of all ages the ability to apply their knowledge of technical theatre to real world problems. She encourages her students to take artistic risks and engage in self-evaluation. She has over 15 years of experience working in a collegiate costume shop environment where she has worked as stitcher, first hand, cutter/draper, crafts artisan, and shop manager. She is a 2013 alumna of the Emerson Program at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where she also worked as a stitcher. She enjoys working backstage and figuring out the logistical puzzles of wardrobe work. 

In recent years, her costuming and wardrobe work has been seen at Music Theatre Wichita, Wichita State University, Collage dance Collective, Opera Memphis, and The University of Memphis. Some favorite past productions include MIRETTE for Music Theatre Wichita with director Wayne Bryan, She Moved the Prairie with choreographer Cheyla Clawson and Director Bret Jones, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead with director Paul Revaz, and COMPANY with director Teddy Eck. She also had the privilege to design the workshop production of Donna Hoke's SAFE with director Dave Rzeszutek at Saginaw Valley State prior to its March 2016 world premiere at Road Less Traveled Productions in Buffalo, New York. 

Melissa holds a bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance with a minor in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. Because of her musical background, she particularly enjoys costuming for opera and musical theatre—though her passion is for the storytelling inherent to the performing arts as a whole. Her history as a first-generation college student from a lower-middle class family drives her desire to increase accessibility to the arts across the region. In many spaces around the world, the arts are viewed as a luxury or a hobby—at the core of her thinking is the fact that art is essential, it is intrinsic, and it is valid work worth a real income and a livable wage.

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