Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference

Finding a Home at the Hartke: Submission by Nicole Smith

As a new freshman on campus, the first semester can be overwhelming, uncomfortable, and nerve-racking. Here is how Nicole Smith, CUAdrama class of 2018, found a job opportunity in the CUAdrama costume shop and a home at the Hartke Theatre.

I almost left Catholic University.

I strongly considered leaving during the beginning of my first semester. Every college counselor I talked to in high school said, “You can always transfer if things don’t work out.” And so it happened. Freshman year I felt like nothing was working out. I was the only girl from my close-knit class of 145 girls to come to Catholic University. I was living with someone I had never met before, and we had barely anything in common. All the people I met were politics majors and already knew each other because of their classes together. I felt like an outsider in every single one of my classes.  Drama 101 was a great class, but it had so many students in it with so many different opinions that I quickly felt like I was getting lost in the mix.

My parents had wanted me to look into getting some sort of job or work-study position. I attended the job fair and went up to the Drama department table where I recognized a couple of professors, but I had never spoken to them. They handed me a form and asked me to fill it out, and asked me a whole bunch of questions like,

“What do you like to do?”

“Have you ever sewn before?”

“What’s your experience?”

I was completely overwhelmed. I quickly filled out the form and turned it in, thinking there was no way they would ever hire me. I knew nothing about helping people buy tickets, and I was terrified of the thought of working in the scene shop. Although I had sewn, I had never sewn anything as intricate as the costumes the Drama department produces.

A few days later… I had received confirmation that I had been hired in the costume shop. I was terrified to start working there, but it soon became my home. Julie Cray, a Catholic alum and an amazing staff member, trained me on the different stitches and how to use the equipment. My first project became making the bowties for one of the fall 2014 productions of La Perdida. I called my mom after every shift and gave her a run down of what I had been doing, and she would comment on how happy I seemed. I was so proud to be creating such beautiful pieces of clothing that I could physically show people I had made.

I was always eager to go to work everyday. I found my niche in the costume shop, and without it, I probably would not have remained at this university. During my first semester I made some amazing friends, and one of them was Julie Cray, who is the costume shop manager. She gives me challenging work and encourages me to do my best. Without Julie’s influence and the home the costume shop gave me, I don’t think I would be as happy as I am. I appreciate everything working at the costume shop has given me, and can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

What is the point of me telling you this?

GET INVOLVED!! The Drama department is an amazing place full of wonderful people just waiting to include you! Audition, volunteer, do tech, work in the department, ANYTHING. Finding people that are as open and loving as the drama department provides is so rare, and you are so lucky to be immersed in it. Don’t miss your chance to feel included, cared for, and appreciated.

~Nicole Smith ’18


If you are interested in getting a job on campus in the drama department, visit our table at the Campus Employment fair Wednesday, August 31 from  11 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Pryzbyla Center Great Room. No registration is required! Hope to see you there.


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This entry was posted on August 30, 2016 by .
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