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Hello, my name is Katie Gulak and I am currently a senior here at Manhattanville studying Theatre Education. Upon transferring here I applied for, and fortunately received, the Duchesne Scholarship. Being granted this scholarship I was given the chance to take on more responsibility and also have the ability to take part in numerous community service and social action events on and off campus. I took part in the Breast Cancer Walks on campus and really was able to experience the community vibe. I also was drawn to the various Global Citizenship events and informative sessions that either discussed our multi-cultural world or a trip that a group of students took for community outreach. The topic of diversity interests me and it is always inspiring and fascinating to learn about different cultures.
Among all of the events offered through the Duchesne Center, I was most interested and most involved in CAST Kids. CAST Kids allowed children from the WestHab Center to take part in theatre activities and express themselves in a fun, safe setting within the confines of Manhattanville's own black box Ex Theater. Having a passion for theatre, education and knowing my experience with children I was immediately interested in this program. My first year here I was a committed volunteer and was eager to immerse myself with the kids and apply what I was learning about in my Theatre Education curriculum. I attended each week and helped out with theatre games and other expressive group activities.
After my first year the position for Student Coordinator for CAST Kids opened up and I thought that this would be a great position to take hold of and graciously took it. I loved this program and having the ability to be an authority figure and advocating theatre in education on my own college campus was fulfilling. I am a very enthusiastic and friendly person so my personality definitely helped with managing the program and interacting with the kids. First and foremost I wanted to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere where the kids would feel comfortable and just enjoy themselves. I implemented management strategies that I had learned in my theatre education courses as well as games and activities that would excite, motivate and, challenge the kids as well. I wanted to create a meaningful experience and I believe I achieved that. With the help of my fellow student coordinators and helpful volunteers, the group gradually molded into a cohesive group where people collaborated and played together. I am so happy to say that I was able to see growth in some of the kids and also growth in myself throughout this process.
I will carry this experience with me after graduation and beyond. I am so lucky to have been able to apply my knowledge of theatre and education together towards a group of kids who needed the outlet to express themselves and escape for a day. I am graduating in May and having CAST Kids as my inspiration for whatever my future brings is comforting and exciting all at the same time. I want to graciously thank the Duchesne Center for the opportunities they gave me and for honoring me with April Student of the Month.