“There were only two professional theaters within an hour’s distance growing up,” mentions Rebekah. As a theater major in college, her introduction to the field was rather unconventional. She joined her high school theater group on a friend’s suggestion and immediately fell in love with it. After high school, she went to the University of Virginia to study theater and it is there that she had her first exposure to the creative community. “I liked to be around creative outgoing people, and theater really brought out my natural skills and my working inclination to just be around cool people every day,” she explains.
Straight out of college, she first got a job as a custodian. She had built up momentum and had worked summer gigs during her time as an undergraduate student and wanted to continue on that trajectory. As a custodian she gained access to theater space and found opportunities to volunteer at evening events. After working a few more different day jobs, Rebekah decided to move to Illinois. “I realized I’ve got to go to the opportunities they’re not going to come to me here in a small town, Virginia. So, having never been to Illinois. I moved to Evanston, very blindly, and then three weeks and about 60 applications later got a job at Northwestern” she elaborated.
Her job at Northwestern served as an introduction to the numerous opportunities available within higher and arts education. While she was determined to remain in the creative field, she also realized that she had an administrative skill that she could leverage. However, she was cognizant of the barriers to entry that higher education posed for her. Her time at her current job helped ease some of these barriers by providing her tuition assistance. She worked out the rest of her challenges by joining the MSLCE program part time and working full time.
“I realized I’m gonna have to get a little creative,” she explained, “ I had to figure out how to make it work part time, and it was definitely what inspired me to make it happen”
While she graduates this year, Rebekah reflects on working the benefits of studying part time and working. She was able to apply everything she was learning immediately in the workplace and it helped her stay on track and actively learn. For example, she has been able to take communication strategies from her classes and apply them to her work at Northwestern.
“I believe that you should reflect on experiences and you synthesize them and I carry that to everything,” she mentions, “ If you do this program part-time you meet at least twice as many students. I’ve seen two full cohorts, which is amazing. That’s one of the best benefits , the connections you make and the awesome students this program attracts.”