“What do you want to be when you grow up?” the prompt on the whiteboard reads. “Why? What do you like about that job? Why do you think you’d be good at it?” Third-grade Caroline doesn’t hesitate. She whips out her Dixon Ticonderoga— they have the best erasers—and begins to write.
“When I grow up,” she begins, whispering to herself as she writes. “I want to be an actress. But not a movie actress—an actress on Broadway. I love everything about this job: the singing, the dancing, the acting. I know I’d be good at this job because I love those things, and when someone loves what they do, they’re usually pretty good at it.”
It all began, you see, when Caroline was just three. She watched Annie every night—yes, every single night—for a year. For her fourth birthday, her parents got her tickets to see Annie onstage in downtown Philadelphia. As one of her earliest memories, she remembered clearly how simply entranced she was with the magic that is live theatre. Fast-forward to fourteen years later, and eighteen year-old Caroline, a senior in high school, is in the thick of college auditions. She has applied to fifteen schools, all with different theatre programs, and tirelessly refreshes her email, hoping for just one to say “Yes. Yes, you can come study theatre with us.” She has prepared with her voice coaches, acting teachers, and choreographers for over a year in order to select her music, monologues, and dance pieces that will best showcase her and what she can do. It’s draining, stressful, and not a typical senior year, but Caroline wouldn’t have it any other way. She can’t imagine doing anything else but this with her life. And then, one cold, January afternoon, it happens. Her phone vibrates. She picks it up, thinking it’s about her French group project. It’s not—it’s an email from the Miami University Department of Theatre. Caroline closes her eyes, holds her breath, and touches the message. “Congratulations!” the first sentence reads. “You have been admitted into the Theatre major at Miami University.”
I share this story because for me, like many college students, my educational journey doesn’t end with a college acceptance. Instead, my path has twisted and woven to better suit me, an ever-learning and ever-evolving individual. I came to college with the intent of becoming an actor. And while I have remained true to that goal by taking every performance class available to me, my dreams have also changed, just like I have. I’ve found a real love for directing—something that I may not have ever discovered elsewhere.
While performing will always be my first love—and something that I am truly passionate about—being a student at Miami has allowed me to find out more things about myself than I could have at any other school. Instead of being pegged as a performer, and only completing coursework in performance areas, I have taken many-a liberal arts class, ranging from Creative Writing to Botany. I have explored the theatrical field—a field that I love—from nearly every angle; I have studied its history and its ethics, its sets and its costumes, and its obscure, classic, and modern texts alike. Miami has taken me to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where I learned about British culture, and had the chance to experience nearly a dozen plays native to the United Kingdom, performed upon incredible, centuries-old stages.
Unlike many theatre programs, Miami’s offers its students the ability to double-major. Since my freshman year, I have taken full advantage of this by pursuing a second degree in Arts Management. This unique program has taken me on a journey of its own that has woven itself seamlessly into my theatrical education. I have learned how to read and fill out financial statements for both non-profit and for-profit organizations, how to digitally promote events to larger audiences using social media and other online platforms, and how to plan and execute a fundraising campaign. I have collaborated with students from a wide-variety of majors and backgrounds on projects and in discussions. I have had the opportunity to create my own website, design a product, build a business plan, and pitch my idea. As a result of this comprehensive education of the arts world and live- entertainment industry, I have the opportunity this summer to work at a theater at which I have wanted to work since high school. The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL.
My internship isn’t taking place onstage, but instead, in the marketing department, where I have been specifically tasked with analyzing current audience makeup and coming up with new, creative ways to build even bigger audiences. This position will take a wide variety of skills—skills that I couldn’t have acquired without all aspects of my coursework and hands-on experience that I have received as both a Theatre and Arts Management student: problem-solving, creativity, communication, and more. But whenever I start to feel anxious about starting this new —albeit mini—chapter in my life, I harken back to what I wrote as just a nine year-old in Mrs. Seeber’s third-grade class: “I’ll be good at this job because I love those things, and when someone loves what they do, they’re usually pretty good at it.”