Theatre Student Scholarships
The earliest scholarship that’s only for Theatre majors is now called the Theatre VCU Alumnae Scholarship Award
As many alum remember, it was difficult to hold a job and commit to the needs of the program. In the late 1970’s or early 1980’s Dr Kenneth Campbell, then Chair of the Theatre Department, decided that there should be a scholarship available only to theatre majors to help them pay their bills while going to school. He put together a committee of faculty members and talked to alum to get it started.
By the mid-80’s there was enough money in the fund for awards to be given. To apply, students had to state need, have at least a 2.8 GPA and supply a resume with their work in the department.
Here are the memories of just a few of the many students who have received the Alumnae Scholarship award.
Elisabeth Schulz Hostetter (BFA ’88 – Acting), awarded in 1985
“My father immigrated to America at the age of 17 after spending his childhood as a civilian in war-torn Europe. They were not at all happy when I informed them that I intended to major in Theatre at VCU. They agreed to pay tuition, but I lived at home and maintained a part time job during my freshman year.
After taking a costuming class, I was able to find a full-time, well-paying job in the Dogwood Dell costume shop that summer. That money, coupled with the Scholarship made it possible for me to move into an apartment with three friends, so I could participate in the department full-time for the next three years.
The scholarship not only made it possible for me to gain the education that has led to my current success as a Full Professor and former department chair of a large University Theatre program, it proved to my parents that I would be able to build and sustain a career in this field.”
Elisabeth (Liz) is currently a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.
Eric Sutton (BFA ’95 – Acting) Awarded in 1994
“I was a full-time student on full financial aid with a work study job in the costume shop and a regular job waiting tables on nights and weekends. That balancing act may have been my finest performance during those years. If I close my eyes today I can feel the fear of those proverbial spinning plates crashing to the ground.
The $500 award was enough to cover two months of rent back then, which made that particular plate much easier to keep in the air. But it meant much more to me than a financial leg up. Being selected to receive the scholarship felt like a vote of confidence in me—- a validation that the Department of Theatre, my chosen family in a home away from home, was in my corner and rooting for me to succeed.“
Eric is now a working actor in New York.
Marley Giggey (BFA ’10 – Stage Management) Awarded in 2008
“The practical help the VCU Scholarship money provided was highly appreciated, but there was also a big confidence boost that came with it. To know that my application was selected by members of the Theatre VCU community was meaningful and reminded me that there is a network of alumni who are cheering for you.
Karl Green (former Costume Shop Supervisor) was the scholarship coordinator at the time and he encouraged me to use part of the money to invest in professional looking clothing for conferences and job interviews. It was a really great advice, and I made sure to do that. I walked into any meetings with a sense of purpose and pride that reminded me I had a community that supported me.”
Marley is currently in the MFA program at University of Cincinnati – CCM and was previously the Production Stage Manager at Synetic Theatre in DC.
Amy Ariel (BFA ’19 – Lighting Design ) Awarded in 2016
“I started at Theatre VCU very young- 16! I didn’t know much, if anything, about what going to college really meant, especially on the financial side of things. I lived at home and received a scholarship from the admissions office. As time went on and I became aware of ‘Adulting’, financials came into the picture.
I was unable to file a FAFSA for three years because of family financial problems. I was unable to hold a traditional part-time job due to the long hours at school, so I turned to local theatre for work, which is not the most profitable.
I remember it was with a sigh of relief that the scholarship provided me with a buffer. This award enabled me to continue school. Beyond that, getting recognized by alumni or those you look up to as a young professional was the greatest form of ‘we believe in you.’ That was the biggest gift of all.”
Amy is currently working on a second degree in the area of Electrical Engineering at VCU, and she will graduate with both degrees in 2022.
As an alum, you can help to maintain the Theatre VCU Alumnae Scholarship with your gifts. Please email Reyna Pannell (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to make a donation to this scholarship.
Compiled by Liz Hopper, professor emeritus, and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the February 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter.