A Perfect Balance of Theory and Application: Alumni Spotlight Series

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The Alumni Spotlight Series introduces you to Emerson grads who are following their passions, changing the world, and making waves in their industries. Want to be featured? Email us!

Lydia Fuqua

Theatre Education (MA) 2015
I’m a Midwestern arts educator, a theatre enthusiast, and a pet mom of four crazy critters.
Describe your career path since graduation.
While in my final semester at Emerson College, I moved to Kansas City to study The Coterie Theatre’s LGBTQ+ youth theatre troupe Project Pride. After observing for a season, I became a Co-Director of Project Pride and an independently contracted teaching artist for The Coterie Theatre, ArtsTech, Westport Center for the Arts, and CreativeWorks. Simultaneously, I joined a tech start up called Red Nova Labs, where I worked as a customer support specialist for their product storEDGE (a self-storage facility management software). I worked directly with clients on post-launch software support. In 2016, I joined the Kansas City Repertory Theatre as Assistant Education Director.
Why did you choose to attend Emerson?
When I began my grad school search, I knew for certain I wanted two things: 1) I was looking for an adventure in a brand new city and 2) I was searching for a program that I could tailor to fit my needs. Coming from a small liberal arts college in Western Kansas, I had a lot to learn before I felt comfortable diving into my career. I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to learn from the best. Emerson had just the program I was looking for. I worked with my adviser to pick a class schedule that both provided me the opportunity to study up on skills I was lacking and hone in on my specific interests.
Tell us about your Emerson experience.
My time at Emerson was a completely immersive experience. My program offered the perfect balance of theory and application; my professors were top notch, and since graduation I’ve keep in contact with many of them. My classmates were from all over the country and world; it was really special to work alongside some of the country’s best theatre educators-in-training. I was able to deep dive into Directing, Acting, Boal: Theatre of the Oppressed, Production, Theatre for Young Audiences, Grant Writing, and more. I took my thesis work back to the Midwest, where I worked closely with my Emerson advisers to study intersectionality in teens through applied theatre. During my time at Emerson, I worked with three professional theatres in the Boston area, an opportunity I would not have had otherwise.
One of my favorite parts of my time at Emerson actually had nothing to do with classes; I was able to secure a part time job with the Graduate Admissions Office. It was super cool to get the opportunity to know the campus, the college, and the admissions process better while working alongside some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life.
Describe Emerson in 3 words.
Incredible, innovative, top-notch.
Describe your most memorable experience with Emerson’s faculty.
Working with Gail Burton and Christina Marin on my thesis was an eye-opening experience. Their guidance, expertise, and compassion got me thinking about the world at large; they opened my eyes to arts education as a tool for social change and human rights. They helped shape me into the arts educator I am today. The tools I learned from them I use every day in my career.
What was the best thing about living in Boston? How did you take advantage of our urban campus?
I lived in Winthrop, MA. It was quite a commute, but totally worth it. The rent was very affordable, I had a ton of space in the three bedroom house I shared with my roommates, and I lived just a few blocks from the ocean. The transportation system is one of the things I miss the most about Boston. It was so easy to get around and made living in Winthrop a piece of cake; as someone coming from a completely landlocked state, I was very grateful for that.
Tell us about a memorable project that you worked on as a student.
My first semester at Emerson, I worked on a directing project under the guidance of the esteemed director Maureen Shea. I chose a Neil Simon play and much to my dismay after selecting it, I knew very little about how to execute the production successfully. I was intimidated and didn’t think I could finish the class. Maureen never gave up on the shy, overwhelmed human from Kansas; she answered every question I had and pushed me to work twice as hard to complete the project successfully. During the final showcase of directing projects, I felt proud of my work being presented alongside my classmates. She helped me see that I had value and that with a lot of practice, I could hold my own.
How did Emerson help you get to where you are today? 
From the moment I left Emerson College, I was prepared for whatever came next. Every step I’ve been able to take in my career has been because of the skills I learned in graduate school. Last year at KCRep, we kicked off our first ever Summer Youth Theatre Ensemble. It is a free summer arts program is open to all KC area youth ages 13-17. The pilot program launched in 2017 and we are continuing to develop it in preparation for this summer. I am the coordinator/lead teaching artist for SYTE, which is a dream come true and a goal I’ve had since before arriving at Emerson College. With guidance from my professors and mentors from Boston Children’s Theatre, The Theater Offensive, and Company One Theatre, support from my graduate school classmates, and a little determination, I was able to secure my dream job. It wouldn’t have happened without my time at Emerson.