Michael ’16

Hamilton Scholarship

Michael '16, a theater major from Brooklyn, New York, says, "I chose Wesleyan because it offered me a chance to explore and be challenged in all the different fields I wanted academically, creatively, and athletically. To me, attending Wesleyan means following my heart against all odds, knowing I will be accepted somewhere for standing out, rather than trying to fit in."

Why did you choose Wesleyan?
I chose Wesleyan because it offered me a chance to explore and be challenged in all the different fields I wanted academically, creatively, and athletically.

What is your major and why did you choose this area of study?
I am a theater major. I decided to study theater after starting as an economics and government double major and realizing that I simply wasn't happy in those fields. I realized that what I loved about historical, political and economic situations was the ways in which people interacted and performed.

What classes are you taking this semester?
Narratives of Conquest; Entrepreneurship Studies; The Artist in the City; Analysis of Clothing: From Flappers to Zoot Suits; Technical Practice; and Beginning Fitness.

Which class is your favorite this semester and why?
The Artist in the City is my favorite class this semester because it provides me the opportunity to explore, through theoretical analysis and practical application, the process of making art that can be used to address environmental issues and spark community dialogue.

Who is your favorite professor this semester and why?
My favorite professor this semester is Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment Allison Orr because of the fact that she’s constantly pushing me to work to my full potential rather than my perception of that potential. Rather than simply being a professor, or the professor I want, she is the professor I need. 

To date, what is your biggest academic achievement at Wesleyan? What has been your biggest academic challenge?
Doing In the Heights was my biggest academic challenge because of rehearsals combined with work and classes—I was always running around while trying to stay composed and efficient at the same time. I learned to work with a constantly varying schedule while accommodating a number of people in many different groups. This experience helped me multitask with vastly different subject matters and prioritize based on importance, time and result. Balancing this show with other classes and work took tremendous effort but I loved every moment of it!

What class, program, or experience had the most impact on your Wesleyan career to this point?
My most impactful experience has been my almost 180-degree shift in focus. Once my love of performance was realized I had to support it, which not only entailed switching majors but also quitting sports, despite previously being a three-sport varsity athlete.

What activities, jobs, sports and/or clubs do you participate in outside of class?
Though I previously was on the wrestling and football teams, I now work for the athletic department filming games throughout every season. I also occasionally work for the theater department shop, building sets and placing lights.

Tell us about the professor or faculty member who had the strongest impact on your Wesleyan experience.
Assistant Professor of English Rashida Shaw helped me with the transition from my government and economics major to theater, encouraging me to work through and present my reasoning to my parents in a way that allowed them to see the benefits of pursuing my interest in theater.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I plan to spend the first weeks visiting friends and family that I don't get to see often, while working on some personal creative projects. I have received an offer from the internship I've had the past two years, but am unsure of whether I will accept as of yet. I am also currently interviewing for positions at NBC Universal and Ocean Spray.

After graduation, in a year, or five years, what do you think you will remember most about your time at Wesleyan?
I will always remember late nights during our freshman year, watching television and eating pizza with my roommate. We were children and adults at the same time for those moments. It was a liminal space that I doubt I will ever reclaim.

What advice would you give to a new or first-year student?
Don't worry about finding yourself, build yourself. Be ready to give up parts of who you are to become who you want to be.

As you reflect on your time at Wesleyan, what does attending this university mean to you?
To me, attending Wesleyan means following my heart against all odds, knowing I will be accepted somewhere for standing out, rather than trying to fit in.