Alumni Spotlight: Emelie Borello, 2015 Arts Leadership & Administration graduate
LEAP | September 10, 2015
Emelie Borello graduated with a Master’s in Arts Leadership & Administration in Spring 2015. Below she recounts her experience traveling to Prague to present her work at an international sociological conference, and speaks to the impact her degree has had on her life and career. To learn more about the Master’s in Arts Leadership & Administration visit the LEAP Institute of the Arts website at leap.colostate.edu.
A degree, a job, and Prague
By Emelie Borello
As a recent graduate from the LEAP Institute for the Arts Master’s degree program, I find myself forging ahead, full-steam, into a new career. Yet, I still have a long way to get where I need to go. When I think back 20 or more years on my life, I never thought this was the path I would take, but it has become one that is more appropriate and fulfilling than I ever would have believed. Here I am, an adjunct instructor in the LEAP program, performing research and presenting it at an international conference, while still pursuing my future through the possibility of a PhD program in Sociology. It is exciting and scary and filled with hope – all at the same time.
When I began the program, I was coming from a history of working closely in the theatre community for almost a decade, and believing that my future would lie in managing a theatre or other similar arts organization. While I was excited about what I was learning in class, I realized fairly quickly that this was too small of a perspective for a person, like myself, with a larger vision. So, I wiped the slate clean and began to think anew about the possibilities that my education could give me. It was really through my experiences learning from Dr. DeVereaux and her mentorship throughout the program that led me to understand that I would like to be a professor someday. This thought process was further confirmed for me after I had the great opportunity last fall to attend the European Sociological Association: Research Network for the Arts conference in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, which inspired me to do research of my own in the field of the arts and audience engagement.
During my last semester of school, I completed a research study on the perceptions of young adults to theatre performances in an attempt to understand more fully the way that these individuals related to the material being presented on the stage. I submitted my research paper, Identity on the Stage: The relevance of plays to young adults in a modern society, as an abstract for presentation at the full ESA conference, held in Prague, Czech Republic, this August, and it was accepted. With the help of a grant from a donor to the LEAP program, I was able to travel there and present this work, which really represented the beginning of my journey into this new career. It is not every day you get to travel to Europe and present your student research at an academic conference.
Prague was beautiful. My husband, who is from Denmark, calls it the quintessential European city, and it truly is such. A rolling city of red rooftops and a winding river, it has charm and history, reaching back into medieval times while stretching the visitor through times of war and communism and into the modern age. It is probably due to all of this that the city is filled to the brim with tourists from every part of the world. Luckily, the conference, and my hotel, were located in a quieter part of the city.
The conference itself was almost overwhelming, with a broad range of sessions to participate in, all of which stimulate the mind and inspire the viewer. While I had the opportunity to sit in several sessions and learn about a variety of research in the arts field, it was really my presentation that was the most meaningful part of the trip. I was so worried about it, although I am usually quite comfortable presenting, but when the time came I felt myself relax and everything went beautifully. An invigorating discussion ensued and the moderator had to cut us off to move on to the other presenters. I was relieved to have it done, but the capstone of the experience came as I left the lecture hall and was approached by a German professor who asked me to give the same presentation via video conference as a guest lecture for her students. I agreed of course, with enthusiasm.
Since returning home, I have begun teaching my LEAP undergraduate course for the semester, I am preparing to teach some modules for the program as well, and I am working on my application materials for two PhD programs that I will be applying for immediately. Fingers crossed. Dr. DeVereaux, who was at my presentation in Prague, has also encouraged me to prepare my paper to submit for publishing. I do think I have jumped in with both feet into this new career path I have chosen, and it feels good. It feels really good. I might not have realized I would be here 20 years ago, and I certainly don’t know where I’ll be 20 years from now, but being part of the LEAP program has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life.