Why did you choose WCU and/or the Department of Theatre and Dance?
I first started at WCU in the Music Education program and was in the program for a few years. One summer, I took a job at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, and ended up working in their costume shop. What was supposed to be "just a summer job" turned in to a new passion--one I had to explore. Once I got back to WCU, I volunteered in the costume shop and started taking costume classes. I was instantly drawn to the program because of its extremely dedicated faculty, supportive student population, and high production value. Once I started to experience the program, I never looked back.
How has the quality of education you received from WCU prepared you for life after
At WCU when I was a student designer, assistant designer, and costume technician, I learned many valuable skills. I learned the numerous technical skills that go along with designing and making costumes, such as strong organizational skills and a variety of sewing techniques. But more importantly, I learned skills in collaboration, which is vital to doing any job in theatre, but especially in costumes. Also, because I had so many opportunities to work on actual productions, I learned very real and valuable problem-solving skills that are vital to any theatre practitioner. The hands-on nature of the program taught me so many skills that I still use as a professional today.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me generally has a few classes in costume technology (such as draping for historical men/women, tailoring, millinery, dye, etc.) as well as costume design and costume history classes. In between (and after) classes I will be leading fittings as a designer or working on costume pieces for a production as a milliner, crafts artisan or draper. I also do work hours in the costume shop as part of my graduate assistantship that involves alterations, building and cutting costumes, and sometimes draping or patterning for one of the many productions we put on at CCM. Graduate school involves balancing many different projects at once.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter your field?
Whether you are interested in either costume design or costume technology, try to learn as much as you can in both areas. Whether you are a designer and you know about costume construction, or if you are a technician and you know about interpreting design sketches and research images, knowing both sides of the coin helps the collaborative process for everybody. Also, for someone who does not know where to start, start by volunteering in the costume shop!
What advice would you like to give to graduating seniors?
Don't be afraid to take summer theatre jobs around the country! It's a great opportunity to travel, make new contacts, and learn new things from new people! And of course, never stop learning.
What makes our college stand out to you?
I think what makes WCU special is the amount of one-on-one mentoring you receive from your professors, and the hands-on production experience that really cannot be replaced with anything else. Also, the atmosphere in the school among students is inviting, supportive, and uplifting.
What is your favorite memory of being a student at WCU and/or in our college?
My favorite memory of being a student at WCU was when I was the costume designer for Ibsen's Ghosts in my final year. I have so many fond memories of creating those costumes and putting together that production with an incredible production team. The sense of accomplishment I had - and the wonderful group of people who helped make it possible - made working on that show the best part of my college career.