The Journey from HSDI to CUA
Interested in HSDI but do not know if it is the summer program for you? Read about how 3 students from the High School Drama Institute transferred their knowledge from a two week intensive to a successful first semester of college at CUA.
About our interviewees:
is a current freshman at The Catholic University of America and is majoring in International Business and Drama. She is originally from Wausau Wisconsin. Her favorite memory of the year so far was when she was involved in a Volkswagen Beetle Commercial.
Larissa Hawkins is a current freshman from Baltimore, Maryland. She is a drama and art major. She really likes colors, words and good coffee.
Marie Kottenstette is an English and drama double major from Worcester, Massachusetts.
1.) How did attending HSDI help you in your first semester of college?
Madeline: By going to HSDI I was able to get to know the campus really well which definitely helped me find my way the first few weeks. The program itself was fantastic and definitely gave me a boost on what I would be learning my first semester. I got to know some of the professors, and I knew my way around Hartke. This was also the reason how I got to know Professor Gail Beach and how I am now working at the costume shop.
Larissa: HSDI helped me for my first semester of college by introducing me to faculty, staff, and students who attend and work at CUA. I knew when I arrived at CUA I wouldn’t feel alone at Hartke.
Marie: I attended the CUA HSDI the summer before my senior year of high school. For me, HSDI started out as an opportunity to explore whether drama was something that I would actually want to continue to study in college, but it ended up being so much more. It really was an unforgettable experience. The skills that I learned and developed over my two short weeks at the HSDI were so beneficial and definitely played a part in my final decision to come to CUA.
2.) How does the HSDI experience differ from real college life? How is it similar?
Madeline: HSDI was actually really similar to college life. Everyone lives on their own and has responsibilities to take care of, but I felt that HSDI was definitely more rigorous than college life because of the classes starting from 8 am till 10pm. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much.
Larissa: I have a lot more free time in College than I did during HSDI. During HSDI I was constantly busy, either in class or working on acting homework that Gary or another professor had assigned the night before. Now, there is plenty of time to read books and relax, even do activities outside of theatre.
Marie: When I first arrived at Freshman Orientation, finding my way around was a breeze because I already knew the campus from the two weeks I had spent here. Auditioning for the different show opportunities on campus has also been much easier than it would have been if I had not attended the HSDI. Obviously, two weeks is not enough time to get the full CUA Drama experience, but it does give you a nice taste for what is yet to come if you do decide to attend CUA.
3.) What has been your best experience of college so far in the drama department?
Madeline: My best experience in the drama department thus far would have to be getting to know everyone and becoming friends with my classmates so quickly. The Professors that I met over the summer I now get to see once and a while, and its so awesome to have that special bond and memory already coming in as a freshman.
Larissa: My best experience so far in the drama department has been working in the scene shop. It literally makes my week so much more fun. I work with awesome people and I’m constantly learning new things about technical theatre.
Marie: When I began my first semester here as a freshman, one of the first things I got to take part in were a series of Ten Minute Plays. These plays were student written and directed, and I was so struck not just by the talent and professionalism of the upperclassmen, but also by their kindness.
4.) What do you hope to learn more about in your second semester?
Madeline: This upcoming semester I hope to learn more of a hands on experience like we did this summer. I learned so much with a small group and we were really active in our training.
Larissa: In my second semester I hope to just to continue learning. I do not have a specific preference on what I am learning about, just as long as I’m doing something in theatre. They say acting is “doing,” which for me is true. I think this concept applies to learning as well. You can never truly open your mind up to the possibilities of learning new information without actively doing something. I never really intended on coming to CUA until after I attended HSDI and that is where I really started doing new things. Once I started doing new things– I started to learn a lot. Then it dawned on me, why not continue learning new things at CUA? Those people are pretty cool.
Marie: I hope to continue to partake in activities such as the series of Ten Minute Plays and further strengthen my acting skills as I move into my second semester as a student here. The CUA drama department really is a family, and it can sometimes be intimidating to enter into tight knit communities such as this one. I can confidentially say, however, that the CUA drama department is not just a family, but one of the most welcoming and kind families I’ve ever known.
“Going to HSDI was one of the best things that has ever happened to me to this day. I spent my senior year of high school in the hospital, and I really didn’t think I was going to graduate let alone go to HSDI. When I got to go, it truly was a blessing, and I met so many wonderful people and learned so much. Definitely something I will never forget.” – Madeline Winter