8 ways we made the most of our time at UNCSA

We asked members of the Class of 2018 to share some of the best of their four years at UNCSA. From hard-won lessons and advice to favorite memories and campus perks, here’s what they had to say: 

1. Connections start here.

Every person you meet at UNCSA—students, faculty, staff, alumni, guest artists and more—becomes part of your network once you leave campus. Every internship I’ve had during my time at UNCSA, I’ve secured from a connection I made at school. The entertainment industry is small, so it’s extremely important to put your best professional foot forward. Being polite, professional and positive makes a world of difference in any setting!

—Claire Murphy, Design & Production

Claire Murphy

Backstage at "Ariadne auf Naxos," where Murphy was the production stage manager during her junior year. "This is one of my favorite shows I've ever worked on and one of the best teams I will ever work with," she says.

2. Failure turns into success.

Fail. Hard. Be broken and disheartened by a project, let it eat you up and spit you back out. Go scream out the frustration in the corners of your room and then call your mom to calm you down. This is how you'll be ready for the next project, because you'll fail a little less every time after that. Real success is measured by the amount of times you're willing to fail and soldier on, searching for the day when you have no improving left to do. And if you're doing it right, you might never have that day.

—Hannah Lane, Filmmaking

3. The journey is yours.

Make your own path. It's easy to compare yourself to others, especially in an artist community, but I've learned that the only person who should care which path you take, and the way you live your life or use your degree, is you.

—Henry Ballard, Design & Production

4. Work hard.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned at UNCSA is that talent only gets you so far. The rest is how hard you work and how kind you are to the people around you.

—Mariah Guillmette, Drama

5. Make memories with your fellow artists.

My favorite memory at UNCSA was when we had a week of snow days my second year. I loved stocking up on food, hunkering down with my friends on campus and sledding on the hill. I’m from New Orleans, so snow was already a special thing for me, but there’s something magical and picturesque about seeing campus so white and glittery.

—Mariah Guillmette 

Stage Managers

Stage Management class potluck. “We have end-of-year potlucks together!” Ballard says. “I've always loved being around such hard workers and future leaders!”

I loved stage managing for Keys to the Kingdom shows in the RJR black box with student directors.

—Henry Ballard

6. Make memories by following your passion.

One of my favorite memories was being part of the Design & Production Job Fair. Every year, UNCSA brings down over 40 leading companies in the entertainment industry looking to hire new talent from our school. As a senior, it was amazing to prepare my portfolio, meet potential employers and interview with different companies.

— Claire Murphy

My first film screening was incredible! The last week of school we watch everyone’s films—from Spring Scenes to Fourth Years, animations to dramas… everyone comes together and watches an entire student body's work. It’s always inspiring and fun.

—Hannah Lane

Third-Year films

“This is from my Third-Year Film,” Lane says. “The greatest set experience I've had at UNCSA.”

7. UNCSA has more to offer than you realize...

Go see shows from every discipline. Students don’t realize how lucky they are to be studying in a conservatory. Most events have a student night, so they’re free! See the operas and Winter Dance. See every Keys to the Kingdom play you can because they are always incredible. Check out D&P’s light show, Photona, and definitely come to the Film School screenings, which often include rare prints and super weird films you wouldn't see otherwise.

—Hannah Lane

One thing that everyone should do at UNCSA is see all the performances, screenings, readings, exhibitions, showings and presentations you can! There is so much compelling, interesting work being done right here on campus, that you would be doing yourself a disservice by not participating in every way can.

—Claire Murphy

8. …And so does Winston-Salem.

Every student should  take chances to get out in the community and learn how to live a life outside of their field and school. There are so many bars, coffee shops, attractions and parks in Winston-Salem. Not enough UNCSA students get out!

—Henry Ballard

Class of 2018

“This photo was taken on my last day of class with Bob Francesconi, our mask and clowning teacher,” Guillmette says. “He’s retiring after this year and I feel so grateful to have gotten the chance to learn from him and be in the presence of such a phenomenal human being for the last four years.”

I think every UNCSA student should get away from campus every once in a while. It can be really refreshing to go out into the community for a change of pace and find hidden gems. I made a Winston-Salem bucket list this year of all the places I want to visit before I graduate and I’ve been finding the best local spots. Some of my favorites include the taco truck and panaderia on Monmouth Street and the gardens at Reynolda House.

—Mariah Guillmette

by Corrine Luthy

April 27, 2018

filter: drama,filmmaking,design-production