Isy Kaczmarek, a sophomore theatre education major from Raleigh, is spending her summer volunteering for the Raleigh Little Theatre (RLT), which aims to educate children about how theatre can enrich their lives through acting and playwriting. As Honors students, we often find ourselves searching for ways to engage with others to further our knowledge of a subject. Kaczmarek has chosen to spend her time this summer teaching children about expressing themselves through theatre. Kaczmarek’s work in the theatre is an excellent example of her commitment to improving her community while sharing her passions with others, which is a cornerstone of Honors education. Through her work in public service, hands-on professional development, and ability to adapt in trying times, Kaczmarek has shown what an Honors student can do for themselves and their community.
Being an Honors College student means that you embrace and value service work because you see how it positively impacts you and your community. Kaczmarek is taking the initiative to work hands-on with her students, as much as she can, and to preserve the experience and knowledge they would have gotten from an in-person theatre program. While Kaczmarek planned to be a Teaching Assistant for the Little Raleigh Theatre, due to COVID-19, she was unable to work in person at the theatre. She was still able to find ways to serve her community and the theatre alike with her time, energy, and passion, which all are hallmarks of a bright and talented professional. Kaczmarek said, “Originally I was supposed to be at RLT working directly with the kids, but due to the changes caused by coronavirus, I am TA-ing over zoom! I am more than excited that we still get to have the camps, even if the experience won’t be exactly the same.”
Photo above shows Isy Kaczmarek directing a theatre production at Athens Drive High School. Photo submitted
As a theatre education major, this summer opportunity highlights Kaczmarek’s dedication to developing and exercising her knowledge within her discipline. While in college, Kaczmarek is not only able to use her current knowledge to develop and groom young actors, but also is taking the opportunity to grow her knowledge through the use of hands-on experience. While her work may not be physical in nature, being able to interact with students and teach them new techniques, is just as valuable. During such a turbulent time, Kaczmarek shows us how our definitions of professional development are shifting. Her ability to keep up is a testament to her passion for theatre education.
Though Kaczmarek’s role and responsibilities have shifted since the outbreak of COVID-19, she is showing her flexibility and resiliency in rapidly changing times. When her position changed from an in-person TA position to a volunteer position, as is typical for Honors students, she adapted. While COVID-19 has largely shifted her plans and expectations for the summer, Kaczmarek is using the additional time outside of volunteering to better herself personally. “I have been able to enjoy some time alone to hone my skills on activities that I did not have a lot of time for during school. By keeping myself entertained I have learned a lot about what I am capable of, which I never expected from this,” she stated.
During these troubling times, it is refreshing and inspiring to see students like Kaczmarek overcome and adapt to their changing environments. “When things return to normal, I am looking forward to getting to see and hug my friends! I have really missed spending time with them, especially as social distancing continues into the summer,” she said. In the meantime, we are proud to have her represent us in the Honors College and Raleigh Little Theatre. Stay tuned as we continue profiling other Honors students as they navigate their summers.
Top photo features Isy Kaczmarek in a field of poppies in Benson, NC .Photo by Aysu Basaran.
Story by: Stephen Justice, Honors College alumnus (May '20)