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Rockland Community College ​hello my name is Amber Lorraine Shaw and I'm a senior theatre student at Wayne State University my home town is actually Melvindale Michigan so I've lived in Michigan pretty much my entire life growing up I just always really loved performing I love to sing and I like my dream was to be a princess in a Disney film like oh my gosh that just would have like oh it's still kind of my dream but growing up I just had this intense passion for singing and in ninth grade my sister Serena actually at that time I had this huge like I was gonna go to cosmetology school and do hair like and that was gonna be my thing and so in ninth grade my sister asked me if I could help out with some of the girls hair for the show that they were doing once upon a mattress and I said yes so I went and I did their hair and I was an usher for the show so I could see it for free and I just fell in love with the whole spectacle of the dancing and the singing and the costumes and just the camaraderie that it seemed like everybody really had it just had a really great spirit so the following year I signed up to be in drama classes and I just caught the drama bug and I couldn't wait to be onstage and to perform and I remember my first role was actually Lola in Damn Yankees and that was my freshman year of high school and I remember being so nervous the first time that I had to step onstage she actually get out there and sing and because it was a solo and I remember like this heart beat in my chest that was just like intensifying and me just like praying to God like oh lord please don't let me screw this up and then getting on stage and seeing the audience and like freak for a half a second and then the minute I started singing just feeling like everything changed and like being a little bit nervous through it and then I remember the first time I heard the applause as I walked off and I will never forget that sound like that sound was just whoo amazing and incredible and it just like it gave me the bug through drama club in high school I was able to develop a sense of I felt a sense of family going through a lot of hard things at in times like uh I went through a lot and my drama teacher was really there for me and she was like a mother to me through those four years and even beyond I mean I'm getting married next month and she's totally invited to my wedding I still call her and her husband mom and dad I mean my parents are alive but I still call them mom and dad because they're my drama parents um but so I had decided through through high school I had already known how to sew and obviously when you're in high school drama club you go where you're needed and anything that you can do you do do so I was able to do a little bit of costuming at one point I was able to try assistant directing and I just fell in love with like everything theater wise like my heart just like bled for theater you know and so leaving high school I decided to try a little bit of community theater and eventually decided that that was what I wanted to do with my life was to be involved in theater and I had this huge passion for acting and I had researched all of the programs in the state and I had decided I either wanted to go to University of Detroit Mercy or Wayne State University and ultimately I chose Wayne State University because they gave way more scholarships and I ended up being a transfer student and they gave way more transfer scholarships and it just seemed like I visited the campus and everything just seemed to really be a great fit so I went to the campus and it was wonderful and everything was great and I was super excited and I was able to get my entire schedule mapped out and figure out okay I'm gonna graduate this is my graduation date like everything's gonna work out and then I started my semester and I did my first auditions and I got cast I got cast in the Detroit projects by Dominique Morey so I played Caroline and it was a one-night performance we did a staged reading of the trilogy the Detroit projects trilogy and I was a little disheartened because half the department didn't show because the nights that they chose for those plays were actually during rehearsals for all of the other shows for the semester so I mean there was hardly anyone from our own department even in the crowd which was really disheartening seeing how all these other people were supporting everybody else and how all of the students were required to do all these things to support all these other shows and because this was a free show it seemed like it didn't get any kind of support from the faculty or the other students which being that that being my first semester was kind of disheartening yet still I made some friends and I'm a transfer student and I was a little bit nervous because I'm also a commuter that I I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to find an ish at Wayne State because being a transfer student and being a commuter it really the department and this I mean the university setting isn't really set up for commuters to thrive and for transfer students to thrive I mean especially the theater department it is not set up for for transfers to thrive just the way that the program is set up it's set up to be a four-year program because all of the classes overlap it's difficult to schedule and fit everything that you need to get in the two years you know especially if you're coming with an Associate of Arts degree like I was it was really hard to piece everything together and get the classes that I wanted and was interested in that also you know were required for

my degree but we did it for the most part I was able to get a lot of the stuff that I wanted to do but through through all of this being at Wayne State and through finding my niche with these transfer students and even talking to you know freshmen and incoming freshmen and seniors who were about to leave and juniors who are about to leave and people who were sophomores and everyone within the department that I had happened to make friends with I just really found that it seemed like everyone was a little bit unhappy with what they were getting out of the department whether it be you know they felt that there was a lack of communication or whether they felt like from the first date when they did their orientation it seemed like there were all these great opportunities to actually act and to be involved and to do this and to do that and then slowly one by one those things have just kind of been stripped away and not everything has really been explained to the suckering students like I get that it's a business and that being a business means that you have to go where the money takes you however if let's say if a college is a business if we're gonna follow that analogy then we would have to purport that the students are actually the consumers and if indeed the students are the consumers and their tuition is what's paying for the college then you can expect to decrease the opportunities that you're giving the students and the learning opportunities and the opportunities to be in shows and the number of shows that are being performed and not expect to get some kind of feedback or some kind of backlash from the students who are actually paying for all of that stuff and the reason that I'm bringing this up is because you know we pay a lot of money for our tuition and it feels as though the number of opportunities are not equal to the dollar spent as I said when I first entered the department I was cast and since then I have not been cast this semester in the previous semester I didn't even audition because if I had been cast in a show other than a musical it would have really messed up all of the other classes that I needed and it it would have messed up my schedule so that I wouldn't be able to graduate on time because I needed certain credits for my musical theater minor and there's only one or two ways to get those so that being said I've noticed through my journey at Wayne State not just through being upset by what my journey has been and how I feel I've been treated and the frustration that I felt with the system and with the department but things that I've heard from other students that I've become close with and other students in passing that they're just not happy with what they're getting and many students that I've spoken to really feel that either choosing Wayne State was a mistake like they're trapped because they've already spent so much money and they've already completed so much of their degree that the credits won't transfer to another institution or that they'll have to retake classes that they've already taken because most institutions have a policy which states that X amount of credits like your last let's say 50 or something have to be earned at the institution that you're graduating from so like Wayne State I believe it is 58 no it's 30 I believe yes your last 30 credits have to be earned at Wayne State so that would be equal to roughly two semesters if you're taking 15 credits a semester which is just over full time about five classes so your last 30 credits have to be from that University so if you're a junior or a senior you know if you're a junior or sophomore it's not really worth it to transfer to another university so many students feel that they're trapped and that you know by the time they would get to another university learn all of their instructors and actually be eligible to design shows or be in shows that they would be graduating and they'd be in the same predicament that they are now so they stay there because it's comfortable and hey at least they know the people so just through seeing all of this I've really felt that there needs to be some kind of gap because the students that I've talked to that have had an issue like I have had are afraid to talk to their instructors in their superiors and their professors and the directors and the chairs of the department because they either a don't feel like anything will be done and their voice an opinion won't matter anyway so what's the point or B feel that if they do say something they'll be seen as the person who's just complaining and bitching about the fact that they didn't get apart rather than seen as someone who is paying for a service that they feel that they aren't getting and with the way that the system is set up and with how much we're paying into our tuition okay like the bottom line of it is this when you are a theatre student or an art student of any type you're going into a field which requires you to constantly learn and to constantly dedicate yourself to the practice and in theater a lot of that is actually acting so if you're not having the opportunities to actually be in plays even if it's just as someone in the ensemble you're not getting to work with directors you're not constantly seeing new scripts and constantly changing your persona and perfecting different versions of yourself which means you're not as marketable as someone who is and the way that our system is set up is not set up so that students can flourish it feels as though the theatre department at Wayne State University is set up more like a business than it is a school and the problem with that is that it's a school our tuition dollars are going towards our education and the reason that students are getting so frustrated and upset isn't because they're being whiny about not being cast in something it's because they're paying to learn something that they're not learning that is the biggest problem if you want to talk about how the school is a business and if you want to stick with that analogy that's totally fine go with the fact that students are the consumers and we're paying for something that on the label says it's one thing but once you open it up inside it's something

completely different we're paying the way that the the department advertises itself to incoming students is that you have all these different opportunities to act and even if you're not acting you know in a play that you'll be eligible for all of these acting classes and that's just not true if you're a BA student a Bachelor of Arts instead of a bachelor of fine arts student and you don't audition to get into the acting program and focus solely on acting without being able to do anything else in any of the other areas of the department then you're unable to register for all of the additional acting classes there's only two acting classes that are actually available to you as a BA student so you could be in a predicament like me in which I auditioned an acting audition to get into the BA program at Wayne State University my audition was accepted and I was you know put in as a be a theatre student acting student and I'm gonna be graduating this semester having taken only one acting class that's kind of stunning considering that you know the BFA is get to take several classes to hone their craft and it's just frustrating that those classes are there and they're available but you're not even eligible to register for them so that's kind of the the reason that I feel like the program needs to be reinvented and that the student should have input so if you want that's a little bit about my project so if you want to learn a little bit more about my project go ahead and click the link below to read more about why I'm doing what I'm doing and what I have in store for this giant project that I'm hoping can revitalize our department and make our students proud to be creative warriors again thanks for watching The College at Old Westbury.