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A Summer at AATE
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Madilynn Garcia served as the Volunteer Coordinator with AATE this summer. She is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin and majoring in Theatre Studies.

Eight months ago, I promised myself I would do something amazing with my summer. I knew it had to be a learning experience that would push me to strengthen my skills, focus on new ones while growing my professional network. It also absolutely had to be in Washington D.C. I was quickly drawn to the American Alliance of Theatre and Education because of the stature of the network and the chance to work with several aspects of the organization. When I spoke to my dear advisor and mentor, Joan Lazarus, she was thrilled. As a past president of AATE, her praise of the organization let me know that it would be a great choice. Soon, I made the journey from Austin, Texas to the District of Columbia to begin a fantastic summer.

My time here has been absolutely invaluable. My first day I was a rather surprised to see how small the national office really is. Who knew so much work could happen in such a humble space?! I immediately hit the ground running, creating budgets and ordering supplies for the national conference, contributing to materials that would be on the website, contacting those selected for conference internships and crafting their schedule. The office staff could not have possibly been more supportive of my educational experience. I was given a place to share goals and ideas, improve on skills I already possessed and problem solve on my own while knowing that assistance was just across the room. The highlight of my summer was the national conference in Bethesda, Maryland. I was able to see the roots of this organization like Rita Kotter, D.W. Gregory and Suzan Zeder alongside the newest members of the field. I made 11 new friends who worked as conference interns, most of whom are still in college or recent graduates in the field. I also got to see a large chunk of the University of Texas Theatre and Dance community at the conference, which meant I got to share the experience with my peers and professors. Most of all, I walked away having experienced first-hand how artistic courage and professional grace exist simultaneously, how a community can come together from different places with different specialties and build something remarkable together.

After three months, I’m returning to Austin with more than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to share the things I’ve learned with my peers and I am eager to maintain the connections I made over the summer. My experience with AATE was more than I could have imagined and I intend to do even more with the organization in the future. I would like to thank Marcie, Alexis and Sarah in the national office for contributing so much to my educational experience, the folks at UT Austin who prepared me for this experience, especially Joan Lazarus, and the AATE Board of Directors who are constantly working to improve the organization.


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