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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Former theater arts student combines passion with service

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Features

KENNEDY CENTER: After graduating in May, former theater arts student Gabrielle Young is now in the midst of a four month long internship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she is in charge of $10,500 grant budget for schools.   <br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/<i>

KENNEDY CENTER: After graduating in May, former theater arts student Gabrielle Young is now in the midst of a four month long internship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she is in charge of $10,500 grant budget for schools.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/

Like most seniors, Gabrielle Young ’09 had no idea what she was going to do with herself after graduation.

“I was having one of those classic ‘I’m a senior and don’t know what I’m doing for the rest of my life’ moments,’” she said.

She knew she had her summer accounted for, having landed an internship in Washington, D.C., but her plans ended there.

“I made a Post-it with an ideal schedule on it, [detailing] what my life should be,” she said.

Young is lucky in that, at least for now, her ideal schedule is coming true. Starting in September, she began interning with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, better known as the Kennedy Center.

Founded in 1971 as a memorial to President Kennedy, the Center is affiliated today with the National Symphony Orchestra and serves as a support system for up and coming artists as well as a stage for the arts.

The Princeton Review has ranked interning at the center as one of the top 100 internship programs in the country.

“I’m happy to be here. I’m not thinking of it as ‘I am one of the select few.’ I’m here for such a short time and I want to learn as much as I can,” Young said.

The Kennedy Center also has an education department that falls under the arts management program, where Young is completing her internship in the Community Partnerships Division.

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” she said.

The department works to create a relationship with public schools in the area by bringing in all types of artists. Young deals specifically with America’s Promise, a program that brings the arts to Title I schools, or schools that have a large low-income student body, and where at least 40 percent receive some sort of government-subsidized lunch.

Young is in charge of a $10,500 budget that she helps grant to schools so they can either attend Kennedy Center events, or so that they can bring Kennedy Center programs to the schools. The job involves a lot of paperwork, but Young says it’s worth it.

“I really like it; it’s a new challenge,” she said.

Young, who majored in theater arts and minored in education studies, hardly expected to be handling money when she left college.

“It’s definitely a lot more budgets and contracts than I was trained for,” she said.

The payoff makes the learning curve worth it, though. Young recently accompanied Bryan Collier, an artist and educator, to an elementary school where he helped the kids create collages.

Young had to arrange Collier’s transportation and deal with the logistics of the visit, but in the end, “all the paperwork came together when the kids held up their collages,” she said.

Young initially came across the internship online, and finally decided to pursue it during finals week of her senior year.

After all, it was a perfect fit: Young wanted to pursue arts management, and the internship offered just that. As she explained, arts programs need behind-the-scenes organizers in the same way that a baseball team needs a manager.

When applying for the internship, Young was careful to make sure her application would be of the highest quality, which meant putting together a tight resume, a good cover letter, glowing recommendations, and a writing sample.

“[The] Hiatt [Career Center] got to know me very well,” she said.

Young credits her resources at Brandeis with helping her get the internship.

She was able to get a recommendation from Scott Edmiston, founder of the Brandeis Office of the Arts, whereas in other schools the same kind of recommendation might not be possible because the school is too big or might not foster the same types of relationships between students and professors as Brandeis does.

“Even my boss at Kennedy acknowledged that that was something pretty special,” she said.

“She was a leading light in the Brandeis performing arts community,” Edminston wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot.

“There is a lot of mythology about careers in the arts – that you won’t find work and will wind up waiting tables,” he continued. “Gavi’s success is an example of the range of really interesting, meaningful and prestigious career options that are out there for Brandeis arts students.”

Young hopes that life after completing the four-month-long internship at Kennedy will be as rewarding as it is now.

She hopes to start her own children’s theater company, and maybe go to New York City and do some auditions.

“You’re only 22 once,” she said.

She knows that nothing is ever going to be quite as big as the Kennedy Center, but that doesn’t faze her.

“It’s definitely a rare opportunity, and I try to keep that in mind every time I walk into the building,” she said.