After Commencement, what will I commence?

After I graduate on May 20th, 2017, I will have three wonderful months left of my service year with the Americorps Victims Assistance Program, working with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Once my year of service has ended, come what’s next. What that is, I have no idea.

My long-term goal is to return to school and get my Master’s in Social Work/Nonprofit Leadership. I am originally from Massachusetts, and Wheelock College has a dual Master’s degree in both of these programs. I would love to achieve this degree, however, I do not know if the cost of the program is realistic for me. At this time, I need to get a job that will allow me to gain experience while putting money away for my education.

But what will that job be?

Still, I have no idea. But I do have a few thoughts.

Because my future career path align wells with the social work field and nonprofits, I would love to find an opportunity in Massachusetts that would allow me to work in those environments. If there are opportunities available, I would apply for Crisis Centers, Child Services Agencies, Nonprofit Educational Programs, etc. My skill set is so diverse that I could be able to fit many different entry-level positions; it just depends on who is hiring!

600889_10151473733088985_1087230238_n       The cast from my high school musical performance in Northampton, MA                                                       by Taylor Fournier CC by 2.0

In addition, I am going to look into nonprofits that specifically work with the performing arts. In Northampton and Springfield, MA (which are very close to where I grew up) there are a lot of performing arts opportunities, especially youth programs. I have been keeping my eye on their websites, to see if they may be hiring in the near future. As my Interdisciplinary Studies focus is “The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment,” this would really be the perfect fit for me. However, I am a bit doubtful in my ability to find a position like this, especially considering the status of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is currently threatened to be defunded by our current administration. If the opportunity is available, I will apply! I have also considered opportunities throughout the US, but I would not have the financial means to make that possible.

I do have one last path I may decide to travel down if the opportunity is available- veganism, humane education, and animal welfare. Although I do not have any formal training in these areas, it is something that I am very passionate about. I find myself laying awake at night, thinking about working at a nonprofit sanctuary or animal welfare awareness agency. I would even be interested in working for a vegan company! My two biggest concerns are realistically and irrelevance to my Bachelor’s degree. Although vegetarianism and veganism are growing social movements in our society, they still have little to no outreach in mainstream media and business. Therefore, job opportunities are much more difficult to come by. In addition, my BA has a strong focus on the performing arts, which would be completely lost in this field. Although many of these skills are transferable, would it affect me negatively in the long run if I didn’t pursue a career that aligned with my Bachelor’s degree?

Ultimately, I want three things. I want a job that will provide me with enough money to support myself. I want a job that will allow me to continue learning and perfecting my skills. And most importantly, I want a job that will make me happy.

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Panther Pitch!

PSU’s 1st Annual Panther Pitch, a competition similar to the TV shows Shark Tank, took place this week. I was selected as one of the 12 Finalist who would compete in the competition! We had exactly 2 minutes to give our pitch, and then we have a 3 minute Q&A where the judges had the opportunity to ask us questions.

You may be asking how this relates back to my interdisciplinary studies. Well if you recall, I actually created my major based around a growing idea that I first had when I was much younger- Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company.

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Theatre- by cr03 CC by 2.0

This competition gave me the opportunity to practice my pitching skills, and really begin to get people excited about the idea. After the competition was over, I got great reviews of people who loved my idea, and through a video I recorded, I was able to watch with my own eyes and make critiques, so the next time I introduce this company, it will be even better!

Although I had to cut down my original speak to make it fit within 2 minutes, the first draft that I wrote (which was way over that time) was truly a great experience for me to wrap up Heart-to-Heart in one interdisciplinary box! Therefore, I would like to share with you my original pitch below!

I’d like to begin by asking everyone to stand up.

Sit down if you never had a music class, dance class, or theater class in your school.

Sit down if you never attended a concert, performance, or play in your community.

Sit down if the performing arts—theater, music, dance—if they had no impact on you.

I want you to look around at the number of people standing up here. The performing arts matter to our schools, to our communities, to our lives.

Ok, thank you, and please take a seat.

My name is Taylor Fournier and I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major focused on how the performing arts can empower students, our communities, and our world.

Over the past 35+ years, the National Endowment for the Arts has been challenged and threatened with cuts to funding. Under our new administration, there have been proposals to eliminate the Endowment from the proposed budget completely. This would place a huge barrier in the way for the integration of the arts in our communities.

Research has shown us that the performing arts are an incredibly helpful tool for empowerment, education, awareness, and advocacy. With these constant challenges to funding, the opportunity to participate in the performing arts would become harder and much fewer. Why should our students, our youth, and our community members have to miss out on this invaluable opportunity?

I have an alternative solution. The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company. We are focused on using the performing arts to provide empowerment through our three sectors- Self, Community, and World. Our mission is “using the arts to promote change.”

So how DOES The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company live up to its mission? It would be impossible for me to tell you all of the incredible ways that we use the performing arts for empowerment in just two minutes, however, I will give you just one example from each of our three sectors:

Our first sector is Self. We provide many classes through the week that use the performing arts for self-empowerment. Just one example in the making is our Empowerment/Exercise Dance course, one for adults and one for youth. This course incorporates the psychology of empowerment, social work themes, and self-expression through dance and music.

Our second sector is Community. Performances can be a vital tool in advocacy. We bring empowerment to our community by putting on productions centered around current social issues. An example would be The Vagina Monologues, a theatre production helping to spread awareness about feminism and violence against women, or The Laramie Project, a play based on the real life events taking places after the brutal torture and murder of Michael Shepherd, a member of the LGBT community.

Our final section is World. Through our World Tourism program, which invites performing arts groups such as dance troupes or theatre companies from all around the world to visit America and learn about our culture and arts while sharing their culture and arts. I have learned first hand that the opportunity for cultural-exchange and finding the universal oneness within us all is incredibly empowering.

All-in-all, Heart to Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company provides a safe environment for all community members to have access to the performing arts, and the opportunity to use that art for empowerment.

I have organized my academic field of study around the work of this nonprofit, and I have the knowledge, experience, and passion to make it succeed. We’ve all benefited from having the performing arts in our lives, and now is the time that we need to work together to ensure that future generations have access to the arts, to empower each other, our communities, and our world. Thank you.