Meet Kathleen Soriano!
Alumni Spotlight: Where are they now?
How and when did you first meet Epic?
As a sophomore at the Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts, I believe I was first exposed to Epic through Mr. Russel’s Theatre class.
Tell us about an Epic memory that sticks with you.
During my junior year, through a theatre class (which had the luxury of great teachers like Ron, Jim, Melissa, and Godfrey), where my class and I were learning Othello through the innovative Shakespeare Remix program which taught us core elements of Shakespeare while giving us the voice to rewrite the play using those same elements. We were quite a small school–but diverse–and yet the Othello play brought out our many different inherent strengths that contributed to our Othello remake. While I got to contribute to the writing, the acting, and overall experience, I will truly never forget how well this project tightened my junior class and gave us a sense of community in an environment where everyone got to shine as individuals and as a group. The Othello Remix will truly always stick with me, and my parents, who still have a photo of me as Desdemona in a picture frame around the house.
Catch us up a bit about where you are now?
Once I graduated from high school, I went off to the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and after taking a Political Science class I fell in love with Public Service. Through an internship with the New York State Senate, I became interested with speech writing and eventually I followed the Political Science path to the University at Albany. During my time there, I went to Madrid, Spain to study Urban Politics and Comparative Migration with a curiosity of the nuts and bolts of cities like NYC and how to improve them. I finished my last year of college with an internship with the New York State Assembly, working as a legislative intern. At the end of my undergraduate career, I worked in advocacy outreach for Amnesty International in NYC, a community liaison for the New York State Senate and then once again, found my way back to Albany, as a legislative aide for the NYS Assembly. Currently, I have just finished up work as a Development Associate for Northside Center for Childhood Development, where I did extensive research on identifying foundation and corporate funding sources, and draft grant proposals. During this I have developed a concrete goal to pursue a Masters in Public Administration to sharpen and continue my ability to write in support of vulnerable, underserved communities.
How has Epic influenced you in your life/career choices?
Epic is filled with inherently good people, who want to see students and young people thrive through arts and culture empowerment. The expertise of Epic goes beyond the theatre, and gives young people a self-confidence that if they can get on a stage for three nights and two days in a row, they can truly do anything. I saw that happen to my peers while I was in high school, watching even the shyest of students excel at playing challenging characters. This has impacted my life by giving me a framework of the type of person (professionally and personally) I want to be and gave me a glimpse of what it could feel like when many different voices come together to work on a single project. During my first internship with the New York State Senate, I saw that same success with my fellow interns who all came from different walks of life but still had the capacity to listen and work with others who were different from them. Had I not been able to experience Epic in high school, I would not have been able to conceptualize the importance of giving everyone–despite any adversity or privilege they have–a voice and equal opportunity to succeed. Because of Epic, my volunteer experiences, life choices, and career goals uphold the same convictions of Epic’s mission.
What advice would you give to a current student involved with Epic’s programs?
Take power in the work that you are doing here, because Epic Theatre is much more than being a part of a play, but being a part of a philosophy that has pushed many students before you to do great things and follow their dreams. The work you are doing here is a chance to carry the philosophy that can and will change the lives of your audience moving forward. Challenge your audience when you ask that opening question at the end of performance discussion, “what will you be thinking about from this play 3-4 weeks from now?”. Surprise them with your insight of the work you are doing, despite your age or experience. And finally, no matter what you end up doing after high school, think about your choices in the lines of “what am I going to be thinking about this 3-4 weeks from now?”
What’s the first word you would use to describe your Epic experience?
Favorite play: The Phantom of the Opera
Last book you read: The Genius Plague – David Walton (if you want to find your next book that you can’t put down not even for bathroom breaks, this is the one)
Favorite class during college: Urban Politics