These past few months you guys have watched and read about me majorly freaking out about a little thing called the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC for short).
I was nervous that I would spend the entire time friendless, miserable, and full of regret about choosing this program over another that I had already been accepted to. The only thing that made me miserable about the entire program was that I had to leave.
This experience was one of the best I’ve had and gave me so many memories, fed me so much information, and gifted me what are sure to be lifelong friendships. The places I went, the things I learned, and the people I met are all things that I couldn’t fathom living without now.
For the sake of preserving my memory and informing anyone out there who is interested in the NSLC Theater program at Fordham University (New York City), I’m making this post a two-parter!
This is part one, and it’ll be covering my first few days at the university. Going day by day, I’ll reflect on our packed schedules and the places that we explored. For this post, we’ll be going from July 19th (the night of my red-eye flight) to July 23rd (the middle of the program).
The next post, scheduled for Friday, will consist of the activities from July 24th to July 28th (last day and the flight home that afternoon).
In these two posts, I’ll also be listing the two shows that I had the privilege of attending. [The Play That Goes Wrong (off-broadway) and To Kill A Mockingbird (Broadway).] I will be doing a joint review on those next Monday, August 12th.
With all of the schedule details worked out, I’ll move on to remembering the wonderful journey that was the NSLC Theater (Session 2) experience.
Wowie wow, that first day was certainly something.
It started with a red-eye flight from LAX to Newark that landed at 7am. From there, my mom and I took the train to Penn Station, then the subway to her Airbnb in Washington Heights.
The entire time we were there, it had been hot, muggy, and moist (again, ew). We both took quick showers before our pedicab ride, but the instant we stepped out of the bathroom, we were disgustingly drenched again.
We took our tour and then hopped on the subway back to the Airbnb, where we snatched up my stuff and took a Lyft (baby’s first near-death experience in NYC!) to Fordham.
My mom and I ended up being dropped off at the opposite side of campus, so we trekked what felt like miles to the dorm (once we actually figured out where to go) for registration and check-in, which is where that second picture comes from.
I got to my dorm, discovered that I had been blessed with a private bathroom, and met my roommate, Fran, and her dad. We unpacked and face timed my siblings to let them know that we had made it to the university safe and sound. Then, my mom and I met up at the bbq where I only ate half a hot dog, simply because my stomach couldn’t handle anything else, despite its incredibly loud rumbling.
Once we were done there, I spent an hour in my room just chilling out and breaking the ice with my roommate. Eventually, Liz and Kaeleigh, the absolute loves of my lives came to my dorm to say hi and walk to dinner with Fran and me.
Dinner, Orientation, and our first TA meeting took up the rest of the day. It was the first day with people I would soon come to call family, and I couldn’t have been more nervous and excited all at the same time.
Once we got back, we had RA check-ins. Our RA was the beautiful Lexi, one of the goofiest people I have ever met. She gave us our meal vouchers for the next day and a run-down of the schedule, which started with Panera at 7am and a bus ride upstate.
So, why a bus ride upstate, you ask? A ropes course. At 10 in the morning. In east coast summer heat. Yay.
For real, though, this course was extremely fun once we got past the suffocating heat and dire thirst.
Starting with the bus ride, I could already tell that it was going to be a good day. On the way there, I sat next to a complete weirdo, by the name Of Kyra.
Kyra and I talked for the ENTIRE two-hour bus ride, laughing and screaming like maniacs at 8 in the morning while everyone else was trying to fall back asleep. Partially because we got along so well, and partially because of the undead fly.
We spent almost the entire day there, heading back around 1 after a pizza lunch. We got back around 3, heading straight to a TA meeting, where we first discussed the plans and assigned roles for our eventual murder mystery one-act play, The TrageDIE of Community Ceaser.
Following that, we met for a leadership session with all programs (sports management, business, and theatre- as we had for the topes course) in Keating 1st. We found out our leadership styles from a quiz, mine being: Peacock, Koala, Lion, and Owl (dead last at what I believe was 7 points for me).
After that, we broke for dinner and theatre games, which turned out to be quite fun. And, I could finally keep food down comfortably! Later, we had a birthday cake and board games social that I can confidently say was above average (the social, not the people. The people were great.)
The day ended with three feelings:
Exhaustion, happiness, and excitement for the following day. You’ll see why.
This day was very much: go, go, go, and in the best possible way.
This day, we had a packed schedule from 8am to 11pm, a most aspirational schedule well-completed and much enjoyed.
First thing was breakfast, enjoyed with the usual gang of Liz, Kaeleigh, Kyra, Fran, and myself. Green apples for the win.
Then, we had a leadership session that I quite honestly can’t remember at all. Right after though, we met Dr. Paul Lisnek, the man with what is a secondary dream job for ya girl over here. He has met with and interviewed Broadway and television stars like Lin Manuel Miranda, and entire broadway casts from iconic shows like Wicked, Aladdin, and Kinky Boots (even producing some along the way).
We had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Lisnek for about two hours (I even got to ask him a question, possibly one of the most nerve-racking things I’ve ever done) before heading to the train that took us to Grand Central Station.
We headed down to THE HECKIN MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB (what?!) and met with the star stage manager/producer extraordinaire, Mr. James Fitzsimmons!
We chatted with him for a bit and asked some questions, during which he gave us the horrifying news that the employment rate for the field IN A GOOD YEAR was 80% unemployment. In addition to that, we got some incredibly valuable information that I have scattered around in a notebook I took with me quite literally everywhere.
After that, we had the gift of a diverse panel of talented professionals that worked in the tech and creative team side of things, a panel I was so lucky to come into contact with. There were people in stage design, costume design, acting, writing, directing, producing, and stage management available for us to ask questions to.
I have never written down so many valuable pieces of information in such little time on so many pieces of paper. My brain was exploding. This talented panel of people were doing things I have dreamt of since elementary school, and they were giving me answers that would help me get there too.
When our meeting was over, we walked back to the NEW WORLD STAGES theatre and designated a meeting place for the show, The Play That Goes Wrong. Then, we split into smaller groups to go have dinner and some free time in Manhattan.
We found a great Mexican place somewhere down the street of the theatre and ended up eating there. Right before we were going to leave and head to a nearby starbucks, it started pouring.
It delayed our exit by at least ten minutes while we all fumbled for our ponchos and umbrellas. Eventually, we made it to Starbucks, where we only had enough time to use the restroom and dry off before having to head back to the theatre.
We met back up at around 6:30 and watched a most incredible show, after which we had a TALKBACK WITH THE CAST! That’s all I’ll say for now. I’ve got to leave some material for Monday!
We got back to Fordham, got our nametags back, and headed back to the dorms for RA checks and sleep time. Tomorrow was only going to get better.
First thing on the agenda was breakfast with the usual gang, and then it was off to our first workshop rotation. If I remember correctly, mine was the improv workshop with Garrett and Lexi, one of the most joyful exercises I’ve ever done.
After, it was the “Nuts and Bolts of The Biz” Lecture with Elana Boulus. She gave us valuable tips and information in terms of headshots, resumes, and portfolios, all of which I knew nothing about (especially when it came to the resume for creative projects from both actors and creative team experience).
Lunch and free time afterward were moments to tackle the concept for our show that we’d put on at the end of the program. After that, we went into our second workshop rotation, but I can’t for the life of me remember which TA it was with and what we did. Sorry y’all!
Later, went into a leadership session with Jay, in which we partnered up and learned valuable speaking and listening techniques. All through which we were much too exhausted to pay attention to. I felt so bad about it later.
Next, we made our way to our TA Meeting, where we further discussed the plans for what was to become “The TrageDIE of Community Ceaser”. After a long session of a creative workshop for the show, we made our way for a TA dinner session, where we worked more on the concept.
Well, where Kyra worked longer on the concept. I was being a butthole of a co-director/co-writer and ignoring my responsibilities of the latter title.
After that, we had another TA meeting where I collected myself and actually contributed to the writing process.
Following that was a dyadic encounter, where we paired up with random strangers in the theatre program to have one-on-one discussions. I got paired up with Cel, one of the best human beings I have ever met.
We had a great conversation and complained about home, comparing it to the program and deciding that it couldn’t possibly match up to the greatness we’d been experiencing here.
After a group reflection outside of Keating first, with lots of crying and lots of hugs, we went back to our dorms, where I ended up having the best sleep as a result thorough emotional and physical exhaustion.
If only I knew what I was going to encounter the following day.
Alright folks, that’s all I’ve got for today’s post! Make sure to come back on Friday for the rest of my experience with NSLC! It truly only gets better from here.
I’ll write you all on Friday, with some more NSLC stuff!
Hi guys! Thank you all so much for reading my blog post!
The NSLC Theatre program was so much more than I could have ever anticipated. I can’t speak enough on how much this experience changed my life, and changed it for good. If you can all find a program that interests you and you can find a way to fund it, please do. My fellow theatre kids and I will attest a thousand times to how absolutely brilliant and beautiful the program and people involved in it are.
Special shout out to Lexi, Quin, Garrett, Maddy, Alex, Patrick, and Maddie, our beautiful theatre gods who we have endless thanks and ultimate appreciation for.
As usual, like and comment if you please, I’d love to learn about you and your thoughts on my writing or my blog!
If you have any thoughts on this post or have any suggestions for what you’d like to see from me in the future, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you all!
Thank you all so much, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with another post!
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