Alumni Profiles: 2006-2010

Class of 2010

Lauren Pajer, Class of 2010

  • Graphic Design Associate, Boston Ballet
  • BA, Interpersonal Communication, Minor in Dance

I remember as I approached hour 3 of my 5 hour journey up Route 17 all I could think of was what possessed me to attend this school so far up in the cold, snowy part of Western New York. Anxious and slightly apprehensive, I spent most of the ride wondering if I had made the wrong decision. Looking back now, I realize how perfect of a choice it ended up being.

Being a part of the dance program, specifically Geneseo Dance Ensemble (GDE), provided me not only with amazing opportunities to choreograph and dance, but also to learn and grow amongst a family of friends who I still hold dear. The lessons learned from the dance program go far beyond the classroom. I can remember on more than one occasion when ballet class provided the perfect escape from the stresses of being a college undergraduate. I learned to clear my head of anxious thoughts and emotions every time my hand touched the barre for pli?s. I learned that sometimes brilliant ideas come at 3 am when you should be sleeping, and you have to keep a notebook by your bed to make sure you don't forget them the next day. I learned the cathartic and healing nature of movement; that dance is a truthful form of expression that provided you an emotional outlet. I discovered my talents for directing people, organizing creative brainstorming sessions, keeping multiple schedules on track, and planning events. I learned that I loved graphic design, that I had true potential in the field, and that combining my passion for dance with design was actually something I could create a career out of. I also learned the history of ballet, which came in handy during my first creative meeting with Boston Ballet's Artistic Director, as he asked me, "So, what do you know about Nijinsky?"

I feel truly lucky to have been able to experience all that the program had to offer, and will continue to carry those memories and lessons with me. I look back on my time at Geneseo fondly; the memories of my GDE family are still strong, and still special. I will never forget standing in the wings during my last performance on the Alice Austin stage. I was filled with pride and admiration for this group of dancers that I had spent hours of time with bonding over our lack of turnout, treating angry blisters, and providing hugs and support and love. I deeply cherish these memories, and know that those lucky students who have the chance to be a member of the dance community at Geneseo will build lasting memories of their own.

Class of 2009

Shazia Sohrawardy, Class of 2009

  • MS, Medicine, Drexel University College Of Medicine
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Theater isn't just about telling a story, it's about conveying it with YOU as the medium through which the tale is created for the audience. Before I started with Geneseo theater and GENseng, I was quite unsure of myself, stumbling through conversations and lacking security in my appearance. After getting involved with theater, I found that I was so much more comfortable interacting with people, improvising in conversation, and relating to others. GENseng, specifically, also made me confident with my culture, my looks. It made me love being in my own skin - literally. GENseng helped to connect me with my roots. It gave me depth and added to my college experience, not to mention, it made for great table talk and often shocked people that the "science-y" me would ever love acting. These attributes didn?t just come into play during social situations. To the chagrin of my classmates and me, our time at Geneseo was limited. However, those same skills that helped me so much in college also proved to be essential to thriving in a professional setting. From working side by side with intimidating, older professionals to attempting medical school, the impact of being involved in theater infused and supported my endeavors. Moreover, theater taught me how to work in a group, as part of a cohesive force striving to put out the finest work, yet another priceless lesson. To try to perfect a role in theater involves constant struggle, multiple attempts and an unending goal to ?get it right.? GENseng and acting made me understand this, and realize that although there will be struggles, it's important to try your hardest, put yourself out there and hope for the best.

Class of 2008

Dan Fenaughty, Class of 2008

  • Professional Actor

I graduated in the spring of 2008 and since then have been traveling around the country pursuing my acting career wherever it will take me. I have been part of both regional and touring productions, straight dramas and classical musicals, experimental pieces and children's theater, and as I look back and consider my training in contrast to the work I am actually doing, I couldn't be happier with Geneseo as my background. Geneseo?s Theater Program prepared me for my post graduate life through experience, diversity and practical knowledge, even if I was not always a theater major or minor. Being allowed to join in productions during my time as a non-theater major made my decision to join the department clear and easy when the time came. I felt welcomed and appreciated by my professors and fellow students. I felt challenged by the course work and inspired by the communal environment. The opportunity was always there to join in and it truly was a wonderful safe place to try, fail and try again, which was an essential process to my education and acting training. Once enrolled in the program, my courses in directing, scene design and theater history gave me a deeper understanding for the art. I even was able to put the practical knowledge of stagecraft and set construction to use when I was hired as an intern at a theater and actually promoted to Technical Director for a time. The range of productions that were mounted during my time at Geneseo was, and still strikes me as, staggering. Having the opportunity to see and be involved with classical plays as well as musicals was excellent training for the more traditional summer stock seasons in which I have been fortunate enough to be cast. While the ?boundary pushing work? of GENseng and student-produced projects made me comfortable working outside what may be thought of as "traditional theater." Exposure to different courses also aided in my experience. Having dance, art, and music all in the same building created a unique environment and student body. All of this has made a direct impact on my artistic palate and has opened many professional doors for me in my time in the "real" world. Finally the practical knowledge of the business obtained at Geneseo has proven invaluable. The support of the professors and fellow students has continued even past graduation and led to many wonderful opportunities. I am continually challenged in my professional life and feel that I am able to meet those challenges because of everything Geneseo has taught me. Geneseo as a whole has shaped me into who I am today as a person. However, most of all, I can perceive the direct benefits and lessons of the theater program in my daily life and for that I am eternally grateful.

Kaleigh Schwartz, Class of 2008

  • Special Education Teacher. Rochester, NY
  • B.S. Childhood Special Education, Dance Concentration, Psychology Minor
  • M.S. Education, SUNY Brockport 2010

Since graduating from Geneseo in 2008, I have had the opportunity to continue dancing, choreographing and connecting with the Geneseo community in my professional work and personal life. As a special education teacher, I am constantly ?thinking outside the box? to infuse dance and movement into classroom routines and lessons to engage my students physically, mentally and emotionally. My Master?s thesis centered on the use of creative movement in the elementary classroom. The knowledge of kinesiology, dance history and various dance styles gleaned from my experiences in the Dance program enhance my teaching and create a stimulating learning environment to support various student needs. The experiences I had as a Geneseo Dance Ensemble student assistant director, choreographer, Orchesis Treasurer and participant at the American College Dance Festival, all facilitated the development of my leadership skills and ability to work collaboratively with other professionals in my work as an educator.

Personally, I have been able to maintain lasting friendships with others from the Dance department. I have used those relationships to continue my physical wellness by teaching and taking dance classes at studios in the Rochester area, developing my practice of yoga, choreographing for school musicals and returning to Geneseo to assist and perform during the 45th anniversary concert. My dance technique, knowledge of the body and dance history, and artistic creativity were all refined, enhanced and encouraged as a student at Geneseo. These skills have continued to support my growth as an educator and my lifestyle as a healthy adult.

Dana LePage Stallard, Class of 2008

  • MSW, Social Work, University of Michigan
  • Social Worker, Spence Chapin, Manhattan, NY

I wasn't a theater major or minor, and never dreamed of starring on Broadway or even being in a commercial.

In fact, I had never even acted before auditioning for the first show I was ever cast in - a GENseng production called A [Korean] Comedy of Errors. After the positive and inclusive experience I had while acting in my first show, I went on to participate in nearly a dozen more drama productions during my four years at Geneseo. Being involved with the Theater Department helped to significantly nurture my confidence and creativity and challenged me to be comfortable in my own skin while stepping into roles that were completely different from me and my own experiences. In my current work I can see how my theater background contributes to my understanding of teamwork, improved my public speaking skills, and ability to be flexible and disciplined at the same time. Most importantly, my involvement in theater and provided me with a close-knit family and a real place of belonging.

Class of 2007

John N. Kaczorowski, Class of 2007

  • English Teacher, Cheektowaga Central Schools

The Performing Arts department at SUNY Geneseo is unlike any other. In addition to the high level of instruction from faculty of the utmost quality, the opportunities to participate and perform in all walks of the arts are limited only by how much you want to sleep.

Some might say I lived in Brodie. They might not be too far off. I appeared on Geneseo stages countless times during my five years here as a Theater/English and Musical Theater: Voice Concentration dual major. From Symphony Orchestra and String Band to Chamber Singers and Student a cappella groups to Dance Ensemble to plays and musicals that ranged from student-written, one-performance plays to fully-produced faculty ?Main-stages? (and who could forget MTC?), I was not only allowed, but encouraged to pursue instrumental, vocal, dance and theatrical study and performance at the same time. Many schools will force multiple-interest performers to choose only one walk of the arts to pursue and wind up inadvertently ?pigeon-hole-ing? their graduates who decide to pursue performance at the professional level. My training and numerous opportunities to hone multiple crafts at Geneseo paved the way for a very successful career in regional theater including full seasons, multiple award nominations and wins, both individually and as part of an ensemble and being named Buffalo?s 2011 ?Actor to Watch? by the Buffalo News.

I have often been told by professional directors that it is easy to spot a ?Geneseo actor.? We are ?punctual, thoughtful, prepared performers? who ?take direction well? and ?bring new ideas and choices to every rehearsal? and ?continually add layers and dimensions to every role.? This is no accident. Geneseo actors are taught, mentored and shaped this way masterfully by a faculty that is second to none.

And I haven't even mentioned my day job yet! Suffice it to say that as a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher, I have a hyper-critical audience at all moments of the day, be it administrative or student. Learning to deal with pressure, honing improvisational skills, gaining confidence and coupling proactivity with the ability to react effectively are all facets of an education from SUNY Geneseo?s Departments of Theater and Dance and Music. These by-products also come in handy for my decade-long recurring role of Creative Director of a summer theater camp, through which I have also received a community mentorship and service award, simply by emulating my own Geneseo mentors.

It is impossible for me to imagine my life being as rewarding as it is, personally and professionally, without Geneseo at its core. Oh? And marrying an intelligent, beautiful and gifted performer I met here was certainly a ?perk.?

Renee Madathil, Class of 2007

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Montana
  • Psychology Post-doctoral Resident, University of Washington School of Medicine

My time in the classrooms and theatres of Brodie Hall is something I deeply cherish, and as the years go by, I have come to realize that I learned much more than how to read a light plot or hold a paintbrush. Being a ?theatre person? was something that I was always curious about, but I was unsure of how I would fare in a program that was so different than the typical academic regimen I was used to. One Stagecraft class later, I decided to take a leap. What I discovered was a department that was invested in nurturing my creativity, and a faculty who pushed me to think well outside my neat and tidy academic box. Here are just a few things I learned along the way: when the inevitable crisis occurs?remain calm, keep going, and note where the fire extinguisher is; the painting can always be repainted; sometimes it's better to just start fresh than to try and make something work; and finally, all shows end with strike; it's the process, the outcome, that holds the most value. These are all lessons that I utilize more than I ever expected in my life as a graduate student, wife, and artist.

Renee M. Hartz, Class of 2007

  • MA, College of New Jersey, Class of 2012
  • MS Candidate, Applied Behavior Analysis, Rider College
  • Special Education Instructor, Bancroft Neurohealth, Lindens Behavior Stabilization Unit

Little did I know that when I walked into Brodie Hall as a curious First Year Student, I would walk out four years later with a theatre degree. Although I am not working in the field, the lessons I learned in Brodie have helped me in more ways than I can count, and for this I am incredibly grateful. These experiences helped me grow as a student, an artist and often as a humanitarian.

In the classroom, Theatre/Dance faculty demand quality of thought, effort, and performance. Students are allowed to make bold claims, as long as they're backed up with research, and are encouraged to constantly ask questions, developing a hunger for knowledge. These methods instill a confidence that allows for students to take their work to the next level, and often perform to their highest potential. Personally, this teaching style has inspired me to pursue graduate coursework in order to continue to satisfy my hunger for knowledge. At Geneseo, not only did I learn content, I was taught priceless lessons about how to be an inspired student who takes an ownership and active role in the learning process. These lessons have helped me to be successful in my graduate program, and to take responsibility for my own education in a creative and individualized way.

So often I feel that students are discredited and sold short. I've heard claims of an increasing laziness, apathy, and lack of self-motivation amongst students. Unfortunately, I believe in many cases that those claims are true. However, it has become clear to me that such trends are not inevitable. My experience in the Geneseo Theatre/Dance Department served as a demonstration that students want to be challenged and respond well to high demands. As a teacher, I try to remember this in my classroom everyday. It's said that a mentor is a wise and trusted teacher or counselor. I would find it difficult to argue that anyone in my life to this point has been more deserving of this title than my professor in the Theatre/Dance Department at Geneseo. Even though I am a graduated Geneseo student, she continues to be a source of professional and personal advice in my life. She has taught me how to take pride in my work, how to persevere through challenging times, and how to be a strong professional woman. These lessons help me everyday, in my personal, educational, and professional lives.

Just before graduation I wrote the following words in response to my experience in Geneseo's Theatre/Dance Department: ?As I approach my entrance into the real world, I realize that nobody will be holding my hand, looking over my shoulder, or giving me tests to make sure I'm getting the most out of life's experiences. I will always get out what I put in.? I believe these unsolicited words accurately describe the reality of the world in which I live, a world that I am able to be successful in thanks to my experience at Geneseo.

Frank S. Lin, Class of 2007

  • MBA, Bernard Baruch College
  • Instructor, Accounting, Long Island Business Institute
  • Manager, JET Tax Service, Inc., NYC

My experience in Geneseo's Theatre program was fulfilling both on and off the stage, but it wasn't what I expected.

Entering college with a faint interest in acting simply to have my fifteen seconds of fame, I learned that it took hard work, passion, and determination to successfully bring a story to life. Reflecting on my experiences in the various shows I've participated in reminds me of how much I matured not only as an actor, but as a person. The amount of time I spent researching my characters, understanding the details of the play, and rehearsing for performances helped me develop a sense of discipline unparalleled by any other classes I took or any other knowledge I gleaned from a textbook.

Today I've carried those attributes into another one of my fields of interest, Accounting. The Geneseo Theatre program created the foundation for me to have the confidence to take on and meet my career challenges. When I participated in a Geneseo show, it was not just part of my second major or an after school activity, but an opportunity for me to develop the various skills and talents necessary for my career and in my life.

Erin Zimmerman, Class of 2007

  • Instructor, Academy of Theatre Arts, Buffalo, NY

As a young high school senior thinking about the future, I knew one thing for certain: theatre was the most important aspect of my life. I also knew that a life as a struggling artist/performer was not what I wanted. I figured I would find a compromise in being an English teacher who directed the high school musical or served as the advisor to a high school drama club and that would be sufficient. Lo and behold, I found that SUNY Geneseo had a specifically designed program that allowed a student like myself to receive a degree in Theatre and English, perfect for my life plan. Between that and my successful college visit, I was sold. Geneseo became my top choice.

The first semester of my freshman year I was registered for two beginner theatre classes, play analysis and introduction to technical theatre. Between these two classes I was immersed in every aspect of the theatrical world. I quickly learned that there were so many other things a person could do in the theatre besides be on stage. I gained experience in the scene shop and saw what happened behind the curtain. I began to understand what it was like to read a play and develop a concept for a production.

Needless to say, by the end of my first semester my time in class and experiences in the department had me hooked. I was eager and anxious to learn everything I possibly could. Gone were the ideas of teaching English and doing theatre in my spare time. I now knew that I could make a living in the theatre, and that was what I wanted to do.

Throughout the next four years I continued to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available to me. I often tell people that I gained the best possible education from Geneseo because as a liberal arts school I was able to take any theatre class offered. I didn?t have to choose to be a performance track or a technical track, which left me the freedom to take those classes I knew I would benefit the most from. I filled my schedule with production and performance classes, including acting, directing, stage management, and sound design. I worked part time in the scene shop and the box office, and was also a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society.

Eight years later I am still employed full time at Academy of Theatre Arts, an afterschool program for children with its own theatre space. I have spent the past five years teaching, directing, working backstage, helping with technical elements, running front of house operations and fully absorbing myself in the world I have always loved. I can honestly say without my experiences in the Theatre/Dance Department at Geneseo I would not be able to do what I do every day. I spent four years in Geneseo developing and furthering my knowledge in theatre and my passion and love for it. I now spend my days passing that same knowledge, passion and love down to my students. It feels great to know I am putting my education to good use every day. My time in the program at Geneseo gave me the skills I needed to do my job and do it well. I am forever grateful to the program and what it has afforded me. It has been said that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I fully understand and appreciate that sentiment and I am lucky enough to say I know what that feels like first-hand.

Class of 2006

Michael D. Porter, Class of 2006

  • History and Economics Teacher
  • Ashland-Jewitt-Windham Central Schools, Windham, NY

Theater at Geneseo provided me with the skills necessary to stand up in front of a class every day and perform for my students. As a teacher, I need to maintain the interest and attention of adolescents and have the guts to press on when it gets tough. Outside of school, I act regularly in community productions and keep in touch with with Geneseo alumni regularly, some of whom are my very best friends. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to act in main stage, GENseng, and VegSoup productions, all of which helped me to develop my abilities and even to direct the student productions where I teach. I am a better teacher, a better student, and a better leader because of my experience with theater at Geneseo.

Chris LaBanca, Class of 2006

  • Actor, Director, Producer, Educator
  • SUNY Alfred, Director of Drama

The two things I learned while studying theatre at Geneseo that have driven me to success is that you take nothing for granted, and that your art is a tool to change the world. You cannot take a part, or a show, or even an audition, for granted; you must work hard every single day to earn your living. To this day, the one show that I did at Geneseo that continues to inspire me is Tracers. As a cast, we bonded so closely over what we were accomplishing. We worked so hard for each other to make that show work that we were ready a full week before we opened. I really didn't like the script when I first read it. But by the time we were through as actors, it stands as my favorite production. But additionally, the number of people who spoke to me, even months later, about how much the show touched them was simply staggering!

Geneseo taught me that theatre can touch and change lives, and in turn, the world. Since leaving Geneseo, I've been a professional actor, the Director of Drama at SUNY Alfred, and started a rape awareness initiative called The Aegis Project. I am using my craft to change the world. It hasn't been easy to build it from the ground up, but the work ethic I developed at Geneseo has propelled me to success.

Caitlin Buschner, Class of 2006

  • M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration, Nonprofit Management Concentration) George Mason University, 2014
  • Senior Support Specialist, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Like many new students out of high school, I did not have a clear career path in mind. I decided to pursue Sociology and Dance. I did not know how these fields would fit into my future plans, but I knew I would enjoy the classes. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Dancing served as a mental and physical distraction from the academic workload. It made me realize how important it was to me to have creative expression in my life. We had the chance to travel, compete against other colleges, and perform on professional stages.
While I?m no longer dancing, all of these experiences gave me the creativity and confidence to find my place in the professional world. Since graduating, I have been working in the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C. I work for an organization that works to assist parents and law enforcement in cases of missing and sexually exploited children. I still maintain strong relationships with many of the professors and students I worked with in the dance department. I recently completed my master?s degree and hope to continue to make a difference in the society we live in.

Todd Quick, Class of 2006

  • Professional Actor
  • Graduate Teaching Associate, Purdue University

I cannot overstate the impact my time in the Geneseo theatre department has had on my career. For me, the department?s strengths came from its small size. As a theatre major, I was offered an incredible amount of individual attention from the faculty, who each took it upon themselves to make a personal connection with me, and who each contributed significantly to my growth as an artist. In addition, because the program at Geneseo is a liberal arts education in the theatre, and not a conservatory, I was able to gain experience working in all aspects of theatre: acting, directing, producing, design, stage management and technical production ? an experience that would not be possible in a larger program. I was able to draw on these experiences immediately after graduating Geneseo and entering the professional theatre world; in fact, several of my first acting jobs came my way specifically because I also knew how to stage manage a show and build a set. None of that would have happened without my time at Geneseo.

Currently, I am a working actor and a member of Actor?s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. I am also pursuing my Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting at Purdue University, where my broad background in theatre arts at Geneseo has allowed me to earn a spot as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. I am privileged to be able to teach courses in Theatre Appreciation, Theatre History and Acting Techniques - all areas of theatre that I was immersed in while a student at Geneseo.

Marisa Fratto, Class of 2006

  • MFA Candidate, American Repertory Theatre

Several years ago, I spent a semester studying at the Moscow Art Theater School as part of my MFA program at ART/MXAT at Harvard University. I know that partly why I was accepted into this program was because of the skills I brought with me from my undergraduate training at Geneseo. Most specifically, the fact that I was taught specificity of intention and action, proper ways to warm-up and focus myself for the work (you would be surprised the amount of people that have no idea how to properly warm-up!) as well as character development during my acting classes at Geneseo has allowed me to focus on really working moment to moment because I was taught from day one at Geneseo that my body was my instrument as an actor. Also, being an actor with whom people want to work requires you to be able to understand all elements of production.

During my time at Geneseo I had the opportunity to learn about "backstage life"; the different roles in set design, lighting, sound, and costumes, which I think has helped me immensely as I am able to form sincere relationships with everyone on my creative team from crew members to costume designers because I understand how important their roles are to the production. Geneseo also offers you many chances to perform and this is vital to your work as an actor. Through all my work on the main stage, Vocal Miscellany, scene presentations, Chamber Singers concerts, even being a TA: all these things are where you really are able to practice your skills, learn from your peers, professors, and really make those leaps and bounds in your work. Most importantly, having a liberal arts education has been unbelievably beneficial because I was able to tailor my own education to my interests and goals. Deciding to take on another major in English has made me a better actor in terms of text analysis, research, and my knowledge of different genres of literature and theater.

I am proud to speak of my undergraduate education at Geneseo because it truly plays a vital role in who I am today. Without it, I would never understand all the work that really goes into this profession, and it is a lesson for which I am truly grateful because it gives me confidence in all areas of my life both on and offstage.

Dave Gordon, Class of 2006

  • PhD Candidate and MBA, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Performer, Wannabe Superhero

During my four short years at SUNY Geneseo, I took to the stage as often as my schedule would permit: becoming a self-conflicted Auschwitz survivor, a twisted Mongolian war lord, or a socially (not to mention choreographically!) inept member of a 50's "boy band". With each new role, I learned - sometimes years later as I'd reread a script or watch an old performance - that realizing a character on stage allowed me to better understand part of myself. I wasn't just a doctoral student, MBA, or software engineer, and reducing (or allowing others to reduce) me these scant few resume-ready labels restricted me both from being who I was and from becoming who I wanted to be. Recognizing this diversity made me happier as a person and also helped me gain new academic, performance, and working opportunities after graduating.

As my fellow students and I embraced different aspects of ourselves on stage each evening, we were supported by teachers who taught by example through their work with us. I worked with directors who were just as willing to direct me underneath a proscenium arch as to discuss our mutual roots in Judaism, and vocal coaches who seemed to know just as much about life, philosophy, and the arts as they did voice technique. This showed me that I was defining those around me by their relation to myself: my friend, my family, my boss - which denied them the freedom to be whomever they chose, and also denied me the opportunity to learn all they had to offer. I began to believe that there was no reason friends couldn't be mentors, family - even nieces and nephews - couldn't be teachers, and bosses couldn't be peers. Though I have yet to embrace this fully and instinctively, it's allowed me to gain wisdom from the most unexpected of individuals as well as give others the patience and understanding I hope they'll give me.

Interestingly, one of the most valuable (and widely applicable) lessons I received was not only the shortest, but took the form of a question. At one point or another, nearly everyone has heard the adage that, "it's not what you say, but how you say it." However, taking this to heart is easier said than done. However, one director in particular had a knack for spotting when we, as students, knew what to say, but not how to say it. Each time I finished such a line, there would be the briefest of pauses followed by "Dave, what is your operative?" This would immediately cause me to re-examine the line for an alternative meaning or interpretation, and adjust my delivery of it to better communicate what I thought that alternative might be. Often times, when I feel I know what I want to say but not how to say it - whether it be in the context of a meeting, research presentation, or deep conversation - I think to myself "What is my operative?" and I know how to say what I mean.

Heather Acomb, Class of 2006

  • Freelance dance artist and teacher at MFA, Dance, SUNY-Brockport, 2009 Communication Major with Dance and English minors

When I look back upon my time at Geneseo I know why I am so successful now. I was challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally while pursuing my dance minor, and at the same time had the space and time to play and be really creative. The program allowed me to find my voice as a dancer, and taught me to stand up for what I believe in. The supportive community of GDE (Geneseo Dance Ensemble), the wide range of technique and theory classes, and my encouraging teachers really set me up for success when I went on to grad school for dance. I often tell my current students not to take this time for granted... I would not trade my years in Brodie and Schrader for anything!

Nancy Kim, Class of 2006

  • Senior Research and Insights Analyst, Martha Stewart Omnimedia

Deciding to be a part of GENseng was one of the best choices in I could have made during my college life at Geneseo. I previously did not have any sort of experience in theatre or acting prior to college. In fact, my first-year resident advisor had tricked me into trying out for GENseng?s fall production of Yellow Fever and surprisingly I had gotten the female lead role of Nancy Wing, ?cub girl reporter? in Rick Shiomi?s play. After my first taste of the stage, I was hooked. I continued to do several more productions, including Falling Flowers (2004) and A [Korean] Comedy of Errors (2005) I strongly believe GENseng was a factor of my decision to switch from being an early childhood education major to graduating with a Communication and Media degree. I currently work for an advertising agency, and some of my enhanced skills, key requirements for success in my job, I attribute to my theatre training, such as the having had the opportunity to perform in a number sold out performances; this clearly had enhanced my confidence in public speaking. Now, during business meetings or networking events, I have no problems addressing large audiences and feeling confident enough to make my points clearly and succinctly.

Most importantly, GENseng had taught me about strong bonds. I met some of the most amazing people and friends from this remarkable program. I still remain close to several of my fellow actors. When we get together to share meals and good times, we always seem to find ourselves walking down the ?memory lane? of our cherished moments in GENseng. We laugh, we smile and we share this very special connection that we?ll always have. It's great.

Ian Laskowski, Class of 2006

  • Professional Actor

When I started my education at SUNY Geneseo, the Musical Theater program was relatively new. The great thing is, I had the opportunity to basically create my own program. I decided to jump head first into what was offered. I knew that I needed a lot of training in the fields of Dance and Acting so those became my main foci. I think one of the most important things that you can do is gain experience on the stage, and I loved having those opportunities. You can take countless classes, but without the experience of performing on stage in front of a live audience you miss out on what is essential. Geneseo had so much to offer me: mainstage musicals, straight shows, Geneseo Dance Ensemble, Choir, and even student organization-sponsored shows that constantly kept you busy and focused on your career goals. I was able to perform in a small Black Box Theatre and on a large proscenium stage. All of these experiences sharpened my craft and allowed me to enjoy every moment of my college career through which, I believe, I grew as an actor and person in general.

Since I graduated I have been lucky to have been performing consistently for the past six years. Throughout that time, I have never doubted where I came from, and I would highly recommend Geneseo to anyone who is seriously interested in the Performing Arts.

Tara L. Kaczorowski (Conroy), Class of 2006

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Special Education, Specialization in Technology Leadership and Research, SUNY Buffalo

While I was not a Theater major, the Department of Theater and Dance was a big part of my life at Geneseo. During my undergraduate career, I performed in three ?Main-stage? musicals, six Musical Theatre Club reviews, five student-directed shows, and four Orchesis performances? Not bad for a non-major! Find me another school where I would have been afforded these opportunities.

Though I am known to my friends as being very talkative, I have always struggled in unfamiliar social settings. Being part of productions as a non-major helped me face some of my social anxieties as I was grouped with unfamiliar people and often put on the spot to think outside the box when acting. I never felt so uncomfortable and so empowered in my life. The skills I learned and refined while performing there have helped me in my current career path as a Ph. D. student in the special education field. Part of my job requires me to present to my peers, mingle with new faces, and respond to on-the-spot questions.

I attribute much of my success in my current career to my theatrical experiences at Geneseo and only look back with fondness. Brodie was a second home to me and where I met many lifelong friends and my wonderful husband.

Marissa Mulder, Class of 2006

  • Professional singer, New York City

Though Geneseo's theater and music departments may seem a bit on the small side, those programs are mighty ones that provided me with wonderful teachers, friends and opportunities. The friends I made also happened to have oodles of talent! Now a good majority of us are here in New York City pursuing our passions, and I'm happy to say many of my Geneseo colleagues are thriving.

Mike Rosengarten has been working consistently since graduation, traveling all around the country performing in shows and even playing guitar in the Broadway pit for Wicked. I've watched Nick Moran blossom into a powerhouse vocalist in New York City, gaining confidence and strength and owning every stage he steps upon. Ian Laskowski is getting closer and closer to Broadway every day, having just made it to the final call back for a new Broadway show where he got the opportunity to sing for the show's composer, none other than Marvin Hamlisch.

I've achieved my own successes, having just earned a great review in The New York Times for my latest cabaret show. I don't think any of our successes are accidental. It comes from having a strong passion for what we do and a strong work ethic. These traits were developed at Geneseo with the help of teachers who challenged us and pushed us to be the best artists we could be.

I remember rushing back to Geneseo in the dead of winter, cutting my holiday break short to be in a production of Sweeney Todd with my friends. We practiced every day for hours and beyond, even during our free evenings, helping each other nail those impossible Sondheim lyrics, encouraging each other to push ourselves and our characters beyond our comfort zones. I remember a particular acting class with assigned scene partners, and I remember the many rehearsals I had with that partner. I remember the intense work ethic that acting class gave me, reading the play from start to finish and then again, finding the subtext in every word of the script, figuring out how my character would walk, talk, or even eat a sandwich. I remember weekly voice lessons and choir rehearsals where my vocal technique was honed and perfected daily and made stronger by the week.

Now in New York City each day I am pounding the pavement: taking classes, going to shows, listening to other people sing, all the while paying close attention to other artists. In turn, I become a better artist every day. I sing every day. I have two paid singing gigs at restaurants and I try to go to as many open mics as I can. Even if I'm singing the same material, I work on it just to find new and subtle nuances every single time. My passion was born in Geneseo and continues to grow here in New York City. There is nothing my friends and I cannot accomplish. If you want something badly enough, you will work toward it, no matter how challenging it is, and you will achieve your dreams.

Joan V. Monplaisir, Class of 2006

  • MSW, Smith College School for Clinical Social Work

  • Peace Corps, Volunteer Behavioral Interventionist, Peck Full Service Community School

  • Baltimore Mental Health Consultant, University of Maryland Center for Infant Study

I have always loved acting but I was very shy my first year at college. Being cast in my first production at Geneseo gave me so much confidence. And I was not only involved in onstage activities: for four years, I worked Behind the Scenes helping to build sets and hang lights for some amazing productions. Acting on stage was an emotional release for me; I felt and still feel so at home on the stage. It was also quite challenging and through studying different characters, it brought me to higher levels of being able to understand how the world works. Being a part of Geneseo?s Theatre program definitely inspired me to study psychology, more specifically, forensic psychology. I found it intriguing to analyze the inner workings of people and ascertain why they do what they do. There were many professors who helped me discover what it means to be a person of color in theatre. So many thought outside the box and cast me in roles that may or may not have been ethnically specific. When I joined the Peace Corps after graduation, I took theatre with me to Zambia and used it as a form of therapy for women and orphans who had been diagnosed with or affected by HIV/AIDS. It is thanks to my experiences with Geneseo?s Theatre program and Peace Corps that I am pursuing my Masters in Clinical Social Work. I want to specialize in using play therapy/psychodrama in my work with children and adolescents. I am honored to be a "Brodie-ite" and ?Tech Kid" alumna.

Mike Rosengarten, Class of 2006

  • Professional actor, musician, conductor

What?s the most important skill an actor/musician can possess? Networking. The first job I got playing in a Broadway pit was through networking. The position I was granted - to musically supervise and contract a recently Drama Desk nominated Off-Broadway musical - was through networking. And whom did I contract for that show? People in my network. One of whom a fellow Geneseo Alum. None of my accomplishments would have been possible without the interpersonal skills I learned being in a small yet diverse college atmosphere like Geneseo.

For me, the real question in choosing a school was whether to go for a conservatory program, or to get a liberal arts degree. Conservatory programs are wonderful in that they allow you to really focus on all facets of your chosen art. However, like most college students I wanted to explore multiple paths before I chose the one to which I would devote my life.

Geneseo was a place that allowed me to study theatre, but also spend time with people who are outside of the theatre world completely. My roommates and best friends were business, chemistry and communications majors. Learning to deal with people from all walks of life with such varied interests contributed greatly to how I approach my business.

Many conservatory programs don?t allow you to even set foot on stage for the first two years of your education. Some still bar you from performing in professional theatre outside of school, such as summer stock. At Geneseo, I got to perform on the main stage, right from my freshman year. I performed in multiple ensembles and student-directed plays and musicals. These experiences were truly transformative. Also, I was encouraged to audition at professional regional calls like ?Straw Hats? and ?NETC,? through which I earned roles in great summer theatres. It was through these jobs that I learned how to work, as a professional on stage. And the true payoff came when I graduated and already had a resume full of excellent credits.

The amount of growth I managed to pack into my four years at SUNY Geneseo is something I will always be grateful for, along with the fact that I was able to graduate free of student loan debt (I?m certain that is not something I could say had I chosen to attend a private conservatory.) It seems nearly every day I?m reminded of some lesson I learned there. Most of them were not even from classes, but just being around the kinds of remarkable people who populate Geneseo.