Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Students Cause High Drama at STC Graduation

There were tears, cries and screams from a certain group of students at South Texas College’s recent graduation ceremony for its Division of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“The first graduates from our Drama Program were certainly in character for celebration, and they certainly were not inconspicuous,” said Juan E. Mejia, STC vice president for academic affairs. “President Reed appropriately shares that graduation is an honor few receive; therefore, having the State Farm Arena filled to capacity five times during the 2012 Ceremonies, is much cause for celebration.

“To add to the moment, the graduates from the Drama Program recognized that they were creating history by being the first to complete the rigorous program, and we could not be more proud or excited for them,” he concluded.   

That’s right; STC graduated its first students earning associate degrees in drama. Jacqueline Contreras, Roberto De Hoyos, Daniel Fraga, Randy Garcia, Juan Garza, Janet Montoya, Priscilla Sauceda, Gerry Rodriguez and Ramiro Rodriguez are the first graduates from the program.

“We are so proud of these nine students,” said Jason Joel Rodriguez, STC drama instructor. “They worked so hard and there is no doubt we were demanding.”

The students participated in two years of intensive hands-on training in addition to classroom lecture. Students were required to learn acting technique, makeup application, costuming and sewing, set design and construction, and marketing, just to name some skills.

“Some may think drama is an easy course of study, but they couldn’t be more off base,” Rodriguez explained. “Our students have to learn how to handle every aspect of the work from acting to directing and production. We prepare them for the real-world of theater. We even prepare them for the possibility of teaching drama and theater production in the future so when they leave STC, they understand the field from front to back and the array of options that await them in the future.”

Students were also required to participate in department-sponsored productions, which ran the gamut from drama to comedy.

“Every year, we think hard about what we want to accomplish to help our students develop their skills,” Rodriguez said. “We want to challenge them, bring out their creativity and to learn new stagecraft skills. We need them to leave here ready to work, ready to go on to the university level.”

Most recently, graduating students were required to take complete responsibility for the department’s final production, “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon”. Graduate Robert De Hoyos was selected to direct the final production because of his devotion to his studies in the classroom, on the college stage and gaining added experience in his personal time.

“It was definitely a lot of hard work, but it has been the most rewarding experience of my academic career,” De Hoyos said. “The students really came together and crafted this production from the ground up. Our instructors were there for some guidance, but they let us make the decisions. It was thrilling and reaffirmed that I can do this.”

Of the graduates, six are going on to study in drama programs across the state and nation, including Jacqueline Contreras, who will be studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, and Roberto De Hoyos, who will be furthering his education at Sam Houston State University in technical direction and design. Other graduates are furthering their professional experience like Randy Garcia, who is teaching and directing a production for the City of McAllen’s Parks and Recreation Summer Drama Camp Program, as well as assuming the role of technical director for All Star Theatre’s summer production of “Spring Awakening” in Edinburg.  

For additional information about the program call 956-872-2639 or e-mail jrodriguez@southtexascollege.edu.

Photo caption:
First graduates of STC’s Drama Program are ecstatic about their accomplishment. From left are Nina Chavez Gongora, who earned her associate’s in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in drama; Drama Program grads Ramiro Rodriguez; Jacqueline Contreras; Priscilla Sauceda and Roberto De Hoyos; drama instructors Joel Jason Rodriguez and Jason Huerta; and Drama Program grads Randy Garcia and Daniel Fraga. 

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