Monday, September 29, 2014

Student success story: Grossmont College student using lessons learned in Theatre Arts

Kassandra Wallies
As William Shakespeare once wrote, all the world’s a stage. Just ask Kassandra Wallies, an active participant in Grossmont College’s Theatre Arts Department who is planning on a career as an elementary school teacher.
“I love teaching, and I think a good background in theatre will help a lot,” Wallies said. “A good teacher has to be able to capture their students’ attention.”

She’s also been capturing the attention of Grossmont faculty and staff, who laud Wallies for her work ethic and determination, not to mention her 3.5 GPA.

“Kassandra is just a fabulous young lady,” said Alexis Popko, Grossmont College Theatre Operations Facilitator. “She is a very good singer, she has played a number of roles and she does an outstanding job as our house manager. She’s established good working relationships with everyone here, and her organizational skills are excellent. We’re just so lucky to have her here.”

Besides being involved at the Grossmont College Theatre Department, Wallies has been working as vocal director at Clairemont High School, from where she graduated just three years ago. She also has performed with Theatre Alive! in downtown San Diego, and will be cast in its production of `Evil Dead, the Musical,’ from Oct. 24 thought Nov. 1.

With her sights initially set on an acting career, Wallies opted to attend Grossmont College even though her friends from the Drama Department at Clairemont were enrolling at San Diego Mesa College. “I heard the theatre arts program at Grossmont was pretty good, and a lot of the theatre arts people I knew from Clairemont were going to Mesa College and I wanted to meet new people.”

She hasn’t been disappointed.

“It has been extremely professional,” Wallies said. “Everything that they do helps prepare you to work in the business, and there are plenty of opportunities to get experience as a stage manager, an assistant director or a house manager. They give you a lot of leadership opportunities.”

As house manager, Wallies is responsible for ensuring that the patron experience at Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department productions goes well. “You have to be able to think on your feet and get things done,” Popko, adding that those skills will suit Wallies well when she becomes a public school teacher.

“The same skills needed as a house manager are needed in teaching,” Popko said. “You are putting together a presentation, getting everyone on the same page to reach a higher, common goal.”

Wallies said she didn’t always plan on becoming a teacher. “Originally, I wanted to become an actress or go into the theatre arts, but I decided I wanted a steady paycheck,” she said.

Wallies is on track to graduate from Grossmont College next spring and is planning to transfer to San Diego State University to earn her bachelor’s degree.

She said she made the right choice in attending Grossmont.

“Every professor I have had at Grossmont College has been great,” Wallies said. “Everyone who works here actually cares about you and is trying to help you succeed. They’re here to do what they can for you and they do it well.”