Elizabeth Gerbi
Co-Chair, Musical Theatre Program
Columbia University MEd
Ithaca College B.F.A.
My life in the theatre began as many of yours probably did-- because performing offered the opportunity to live as an avatar in other worlds, embodying inspirational figures that I longed to become, exorcising personal demons that I wanted to conquer. And I had a lot to escape, as a very, very weird/smart/awkward/learning disabled kid. At sixteen years old, I was a high school dropout (well, in truth, I had dropped out to attend an elite private school, one of the first times in my life my “specialness” was labeled an asset, but a few tragic turns outside of my control forced me to withdraw within months), effectively homeless, and had very, very many terrible choices at my disposal. However, I found out that the community college in my area offered scholarships for high-achieving students, and I managed to attend for free. There, I took my first voice lesson, my first acting class, and performed in my first school play, which set a number of other productive decisions into motion. Decades later, degrees in hand, and having experienced theatre and education through a multitude of lenses and roles, I have been able to re-appropriate every frustrating/difficult or enlightening/extraordinary moment into my daily work with similar young people, powered by the awareness that each and every stumbling block is actually a gift.

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SUNY Dutchess Community College