Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Throughout high school I battled severe depression. Instead of seeking medical attention I found an outlet in the arts. The theatre became my sanctuary, my teacher became my mentor and lifelong friend. In the safety of our auditorium I discovered a technique to exercise my wide-ranging emotions in a structured, safe environment. Finding my artistic voice allowed me to explore myself through the safety of a character or scene. I developed a vocabulary to observe feelings and channel them creatively.

What was then a newfound love has become my life. I graduated college with highest honors and awards in Drama and English. I went on to manage a non-profit theatre organization where I also performed and directed youth theatre camps. Serving as mentor and instructor to young people was the most rewarding work I have done; no sight was more meaningful to me than the smiles on children’s faces as they took final bows. In this role I shared the coping skills I found so meaningful with young people who needed it just as badly as I had. I determined that using theatre as a means of therapy could give people joy and freedom that otherwise felt inaccessible. I discovered my love of teaching and connecting with others through a unique creative outlet.

Reflecting on this love led me to apply for the MFA in Devised Performance program at University of the Arts, a program which develops skills in expression through movement and voice and provides instruction on teaching techniques. Remembering how it felt to connect on a deeper level through art is what inspired me to further my education. With my degree I intend to explore using artistic expression as a means of therapy/rehabilitation by developing and employing workshops for prisons and mental health institutions geared towards personal growth through creation. I plan to provide learning opportunities for a wide range of people designed to connect skills developed in a performing arts setting to everyday life.

Nina from Maryland
University of the Arts