For Alex Dodd (BFA - Dramatic Arts '23), the experiences she had as a student at the University of Lethbridge have played a significant role in shaping the person she is today. As she prepares to graduate and move into the next stage in her career, Alex is reflecting on her time at ULethbridge in the Faculty of Fine Arts.
There is something very appealing and special about being an educator in a post-secondary setting. As such, I plan to pursue an MFA at some point, in some sort of performance-based specialty.
Meet Alex. Creative. Ambitious. Determined.
Hometown: Stony Plain, Alberta
Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts - Dramatic Arts
Alex focused on performance in her studies and says she learned a few important lessons: learning to go hard or go home, and realizing that there is no such thing as “true originality”.
“Everything comes from something and is a 'remix' of one or many things. I first learned this in my devised theatre classes, where the intention is to create theatrical experiences from the ground up using a variety of different exercises to generate ideas,” says Alex.
She adds that this mindset took away much of the pressure she felt to be “original” and gave her permission to be inspired by other things. Opening up a new world for her as an artist, Alex says this encouraged her to use ideas as launch pads to create something new.
Alex says she is no stranger to hard work, as her urge to keep herself busy and engage with as many opportunities she could as a student really made her postsecondary experience special.
“If there was something I wanted to try and do, I went for it. The worst thing that can happen is being told no, and in that case, you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and go again. This goes for not just academic and opportunities within the school, but also out in the community. Additionally, making connections and establishing relationships with others in your field is so important, particularly when it comes to the fine arts.”
One of her most memorable experiences was having her play, It Comes in Threes, produced by the TheatreXtra, the drama department’s student-run organization. With a passion for creative writing that stems from her childhood, Alex says this was the first time she felt her writing was something that others wanted to see come to life.
“The script was very emotionally vulnerable, so it was difficult to put myself out there, but I will forever be grateful I did and will always appreciate the outpouring of support I received from my peers and professors,” she says. “It was pretty incredible to see the impact my work had on the creative team of the production and the audiences that came to see it. It's an experience that confirmed playwriting is something I want to continue with going into the future and will hopefully see more of my plays produced.”
It's this support that had a profound influence on Alex’s education. Individuals like Kathy Zaborsky, musical director and actor, and assistant professor Nicola Elson (Drama) are two important mentors she had while a student.
“Over the past few years I've had the honour of being taught and mentored by Kathy in both classroom and extra-curricular settings. Ever since I first met her, Kathy's been nothing but an avid supporter and someone who is never afraid to challenge me and help me grow as an artist. The belief she has in my capabilities has been a source of encouragement for several years now and I know that will continue going into the future,” says Alex.
“I’ve also had the privilege of having Nicola the most out of all my professors through my time at ULethbridge. She taught me in a variety of different courses and introduced me to a world of different performance methods such as clowning and mask that I never would've thought to explore, and come to love, had I not been introduced to them in class. Nicola is also a kind individual who truly wants to see her students succeed, and that kind of support is something I won't be quick to forget.”
Looking toward her future, Alex says one of her biggest hopes is to become a university professor, after being inspired by the impact her drama professors had on her, she adds that she hopes to one day have a similar impact on students.
“There is something very appealing and special about being an educator in a post-secondary setting. As such, I plan to pursue an MFA at some point, in some sort of performance-based specialty. I'm typically more of a planner, but I've been telling myself it's okay to have a loose framework and to see what fills the gaps between different points in that framework. So, I'm somewhat playing it by ear, but I know what my next big step is.”
As she prepares for the next stage in her life, Alex says her biggest piece of advice to others who are about to begin their postsecondary journey is to not be shy and to put yourself out there.
“I know it's easier said than done, but you will miss out on opportunities and connections if you don't. Take it from someone who spent the first two years of her education largely keeping to herself and being scared to even get to know other students, never mind professors and community members. I promise no one is going to bite your head off. Being a self-starter is a hard thing to learn and get used to, but in the long run, it is going to be beneficial. You cannot sit around and wait for people and opportunities to fall into your lap because, to put it simply, it's not going to happen. Your experience in university is what you make of it.”
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