[Emily D]Hometown: Carbondale, Ill.
Majors: Theatre Arts (Acting and Directing), English (Literary Studies)
What she did at Beloit: Starred in main stage shows; studied theatre in Dublin, Ireland; worked a paraprofessional job in the Admissions Office; taught theatre to local children; presented at Student Symposium Day; learned to think outside boundaries
What she’s doing now: Educating underserved students with AmeriCorps’ Teach for America
How Emily (really) got on stage: Prospective students interested in theatre ask, ‘What’s the favoritism level here?’ And the answer, honestly, is that it’s nil. Directors cast people who you would never expect to be cast, and they do great things. I wanted to go to a school where I’d be able to do theatre, and truly do it—get cast in good roles my freshman year. And I did.
How “favoritism” is a foreign concept, campus-wide: The Admissions team tells people that Beloit is not a cut-throat school, but I didn’t realize what that meant until later. When you come to Beloit, you think every school is your school; you think every school has this amazing environment. But then you go to other schools and realize people really are cutting throats for grades. Beloit’s opportunities to sit back and learn are not at every school.
Other ways to get on stage (or, why Student Symposium Day is great): Anything that gets you in front of people is going to give you confidence. Even though Symposium Day is a one-day thing, the abilities you learn through it are invaluable: being able to talk clearly and concisely about a particular topic, to integrate technology with public speaking. Students who give papers at Beloit are professional in a way that other students are not.
How the actor became a teacher: I thought about an M.F.A. program, but I realized that theatre is only accessible to a select group of people. I have skills that apply to a lot of other things that can help people in need, so why not employ them a different way?
Why many Beloiters ask that same question: Coming out of Beloit, you’re such a conscientious citizen that you can’t help but say, ‘What can I do for other people with the skills I’ve gained?’ Many of my peers are interested in service work and are dedicating a year to service groups like AmeriCorps or Public Interest Research Group.
How Beloit’s professors inspire Emily: Beloit professors instill a desire to do better. They become your surrogate parents, and you want them to approve of your work, so you work extra-hard. All the professors I admire have this incredible sensitivity to their students, their material, and the world around them. The sheer amount of time they spend on us is amazing.
How discomfort can be a good thing: At Beloit, you gain the ability to think outside of boundaries: cultural, social, racial, economic. You can’t be comfortable here for too long before some idea jolts you to life again. Beloit makes you used to that challenge.