More than 2,100 graduates will be getting their degrees and certificates from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in June. Here is the story of one graduate.
Sandra Navarro had long had an interest in sewing, so when the Grossmont College student came across a course on costume construction while perusing through an online class catalog, it didn’t take long for her to sign up.
She got more than she bargained for. Enrolling in the course set in motion a series of events leading to an associate degree from the Grossmont College Theatre Arts Technical Training Program, a costume shop fellowship with the San Diego Repertory Theatre, and acceptance to San Diego State University’s Theatre Arts program for a bachelor’s degree in Design & Technology for Theatre. Navarro’s longer-term vision calls for a master’s degree in the field from UCLA and a career as a costume designer in the movie and theatre industry.
“That one course changed my life,” said Navarro.
Grossmont College can do that.
“The opportunities I received through Grossmont College were amazing,” Navarro said. “I worked as an assistant costume designer on Stagehouse Theatre productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, These Shining Lives and more, and the faculty here have been very supportive.”
Faculty and staff in the Theatre Arts Department are impressed with her ability.
“Sandra is the rare student that all instructors crave,” said Craig Everett, the department’s technical director. “She is curious, creative and generous. She is an asset to the Theatre program at Grossmont. I believe there are great things ahead for her.”
Born in Southern California and raised for much of her childhood in Tecate, Mexico, Navarro enrolled at Grossmont College after graduating from El Cajon Valley High School in 2009. Initial plans called for her to earn a bachelor’s degree in linguistic anthropology, and Navarro laid the groundwork to secure an associate degree in German from Grossmont before her interests turned toward the theater.
“It just sort of happened,” she said. “I wanted to learn how to sew, I saw the costume design class, and I thought, ‘Oh, this sounds interesting.’”
The costume design course led to other classes in lighting and sound design, make up, and acting. Even after earning her associate degree in German, Navarro remained at Grossmont to pursue her associate degree in theatre arts. Along the way, she took part in the annual Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory program, which brings college and high school actors and stage technicians together to produce a play. She also found work as an overhire at the La Jolla Playhouse.
“I love everything about the theater,” Navarro said. “I love working the shows, being a light board operator, a dresser, a costume designer. Being part of creating a production is a team effort, and I like being part of that team.”
Said Everett: “Sandra has learned and applied all facets of her education on numerous productions. Her enthusiastic involvement here has given her a true understanding of the complexity of theatre and how she fits into a production.”