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My parents moved here and settled in Fullerton when my father started work as an engineer at Rockwell International in the Autonetics department.
I had graduated with a BA from UCSB with thoughts of going into sports journalism, but I chose to go to FC to begin the baby steps of pursuing a long-harbored dream to try to be an actor. I knew FC had a strong theater department and it also was a very convenient location to where I grew up, as I had gone to high school across the street as well.
Very specifically, the theater arts: acting, directing, building sets, working backstage as a stagehand. Learning everything I possibly could about every aspect of the magic of theater. In the two years I was there, I took nearly every class I could that had anything to do with the theater arts.
I immersed myself in the theater arts, and the students and staff there quickly became a second family. The theater is filled with a passionate, diverse group of creative people, and we had the adrenaline rush of absolutely loving what we were doing, and spending 12-14 hour days of classes and rehearsals together was a joy. It was an inspiring, invigorating time, with lots of possibilities for the future.
I was inspired by the talent of my fellow acting students, and designers, but I was especially inspired by the instructors. The teachers, in particular Bob Jensen (who over 20 years later I am still lucky enough to consider a very close friend), all seemed to see the best in me, the potential, and talent I had, long before I knew I had any to offer. They gave me great confidence to explore this new vocation and passion of acting that I had always believed was a risky, unrealistic pursuit for a career, but with their support, inspiration, and encouragement, it became a very real pursuit. One that took me to Moscow, Russia to Hollywood to New York City performing in shows and roles I could only dream of, and this would have never been possible without the support and instruction of the staff in theater arts department at FC. I am forever grateful.
The most significant and challenging event was the death of Bronwyn Dodson, one of the most gifted, talented, and driven theater students, who was a leader and mentor to all other theater students in the department. I am thankful to have had the chance to have known her and learn from her, as well as for the opportunity to assist in the pursuit of re-naming the Black Box theater to the Bronwyn Dodson theater, in honor of her legacy and inspiration. The idea being that the student has the potential to be, and should be, just as much an inspiration and teacher to other students as any faculty member, and Bronwyn epitomized this.
I had a long-shot, last minute opportunity to attend a prominent summer conservatory acting program, but I never would have been able to get accepted without several teachers in the theater department calling the school personally and going to bat for me with personal supportive references of why I would be an asset to their program. It was an extraordinary gesture to me, but one these teachers did without second thought, and and they did this for so many of their students. They believed in all of us, unequivocally, and supported us in the pursuits of our truest dreams.
Embrace the opportunities to learn, do the extra courses, and get involved with as many extra-curricular events in your field of choice as your schedule can possibly permit. Be diligent and disciplined and thorough in your studies. Pursue your passion, work to find what studies excite you the most, and pursue those with vigor.
Simply put, it helped me to realize a dream, and to have the confidence to pursue it. It was extraordinarily fulfilling to have a haven to begin studying a passion I had long been intimidated by; and it gave me a springboard to one of the most adventurous, challenging, and yet fulfilling periods of my adult career as an actor in NYC. Although I have changed career paths, the education and inspiration I received from the instructors at FC instilled in me a belief in myself that I carry with me to this day in my current career and life pursuits.
Fall 1990 to Spring 1992
Paul Scop Humanitarian Award in Theater Arts