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Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie (Massick) Alexander '01

family of five

(L-R) Ingrid, Zack, Stephanie, Isaac, and Ian Alexander

February 2017

Welcome to the Alumni Spotlight Stephanie (Massick) Alexander '01! Stephanie, a former SAU Theatre Newsletter Editor, put the skills she learned at St. Ambrose to great use post-graduation. She is now a public relations specialist for a medical company and a proud mother of three children. Stephanie looks back fondly on the memories she made at St. Ambrose, and can't wait to share her experiences with others. Let's learn some more about this wonderful SAU Theatre Alumni!

Major: Double major in journalism and TV/Radio; minor in theatre

What did you do post-graduation and what are you doing currently?
Family life: I married my husband Zack, a family practice doctor, in 2004. We moved from Davenport to Newton, Iowa (original home of Maytag washers and still-home of Maytag blue cheese), in 2006, and a few years ago we built our "dream home" on four acres just outside of town. We have three children: Isaac, 11; Ian, 8; and Ingrid, 4. Both of my boys play piano and my older son also plays guitar and percussion, and both have already been involved in community theatre. Ingrid brings the drama every day when it comes to picking out her clothing (4-year-olds are opinionated!).

Work life: From 2001-2003, I worked for the Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, first as a copy editor and then as an education reporter. I transitioned to health-care marketing and public relations when I began working at Trinity Regional Health System as their writer and web designer in late 2003. In 2006, I started working as a PR specialist at Skiff Medical Center. Eleven years later, I'm still there, now as the head of the department, and I still get to do the writing and design that I love.

Theatre life: Although the above categories of children and job have made time for the dramatic arts more limited, I've still been able to dip my toe in from time to time. In 2003, still as a fairly recent grad, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Dr. Cory Johnson in W;t (the first of two times she would end up starring in that show!). I also won a script-writing contest in 2007 with my one-act play Tulip House being performed during the annual Tulip Time Festival in Pella, Iowa, an event which can reach an attendance of 200,000 people. At Newton Community Theatre, I served as a board member for four years, directed a production of The Miracle Worker, and performed in the musical Godspell. Most recently, at a local elementary school, I directed two simultaneous productions of Alice in Wonderland, which featured no fewer than 62 children in grades 4-6.

What was your favorite memory from your college years at St. Ambrose?
I performed in 15 different productions at St. Ambrose during my time there as a student, and a great many of them hold a special place in my heart. If I had to pick one show that stands out the most, however, it would have to be playing the title role in Hedda Gabler. It had been one of Cory's favorite scripts for a long time, so getting to be directed by her, and act alongside such an incredibly talented cast, was an intimate and rewarding experience. I'm also very proud to have received the "Rookie of the Year" award as a freshman and then bookend it with the "Outstanding Senior" award before graduating.

What inspires you today?
In my roles as both a journalist and a marketing specialist, I have utilized my theatre background much more than I ever realized I would. Being a grownup is all about improv and faking it 'til you make it! Inside you might feel clueless, but if you present yourself as articulate and confidant, it can make a world of difference, not only in how others view you, but how you view yourself. In particular, I learned so much from Cory, as my director, my professor, my work-study boss, and my friend. I think it's easy to be a teacher whom people like, and it's easy to be a teacher whom people respect (and know not to cross), but Cory was among the rare few who managed to be both. I had many good times and good laughs with her (just tell her a story about someone falling down and you're in!), but I also knew you were never to slack off in her show or in her class, because she expected the best, and that's exactly what you wanted to give her. To this day, I hold her up as a role model on what succeeding as a female professional looks like. To paraphrase Hamilton: Cory Johnson ... she gets the job done!

What was your biggest post-SAU surprise?
It turns out that having kids is pretty hard work and is just as hard on your sleep schedule as college is.

Any advice for current students?
Plan ahead. Make the "you" of next week, next month, or next year grateful for the choices the "you" of today is making. That means learning your lines ahead of time instead of sweating it out the night before you're off book. That means getting enough sleep and not smoking. That means attending your classes and prioritizing grades. That means strategizing on what comes next, whether it's an internship or a job or more education. That means having fun, but in ways you (mostly) won't regret.

What do you miss most about the department?
Oh, there is nothing like the camaraderie and magic of coming together with a group of like-minded creative people and engaging in a big, wonderful, society-sanctioned game of make-believe. At St. Ambrose, I got to be a French princess, a Japanese war bride, a Roman courtesan, an Irish daughter, a suicidal prostitute, a singing secretary, Charlie Brown's little sister, and so much more. Being on stage is being a kid again ... you can dress up and pretend with your friends. What is more fun than that?

If you could perform in/direct any show, what would it be and why?
I think Into the Woods would be a blast. As a young teen, I'd have had fun as Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella would have fit my college-era ingénue type, whereas now, at 38, I think the Baker's Wife or the Witch would be great roles to tackle. I'm also looking forward to a time when I can be on stage with my kids, in a family-friendly show like The Sound of Music or The Music Man. I'm grateful that theatre truly can be a life-long passion. And I cannot believe it has been almost 20 years since I first performed on stage at St. Ambrose. As they sing in Pippin: Spring will turn to fall / in just no time at all.

Thank you so much to Stephanie for being such a wonderful representation of what it means to be an SAU theatre graduate! We look forward to hearing her adventures in the future and are so happy to have had her share her time with us.

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