From backstage to front of house: the lady in the corner office

Caroline Stuart, event coordinator for the Clayton Center.

It all started with a girl from Georgia who wanted to further her education here at Maryville College. Caroline Stuart started college here in August 2013 not really knowing what she wanted to do and how she wanted to strive as a student. She decided upon getting here that she needed to find a work-study position.

She applied to the Clayton Center for the Arts to become a production assistant to help backstage. After patiently waiting, she finally heard back about an interview.

She had worked on sound systems with her dad since she was little. She also worked in high school on the production team as well as sometimes performing in the shows. Before getting hired as a production assistant she had experience and wanted to learn more.

“Caroline is someone who did not wait for a certain opportunity to take action,” said Jake Regan, director of event services.She wanted this job more than anything, because she never had one before. She finally got the news she was hired and started soon after.

“Throughout the next year-and-a-half I learned so much more about a theatre than I thought I’d ever know,” said Stuart.

With all of the things she had done, like learning to run the sound system by herself, and with the willingness to learn more, her third year of working she was promoted to production coordinator. As production coordinator, she was really pushed to her limit learning skills on how productions are run, and she was given more responsibility as time went on.

Lambert Recital Hall in Clayton Center B is what Stuart calls “her building.” With all of her certifications, like being a trained crowd manager, etc. etc. she finally allowed do productions by herself. With “her building” she mainly ran all Clayton Center B productions with little to no help. This helped her realize she had lots of responsibility that got her out of her comfort zone and was beneficial learning information.

She says that it was “scary when I realized that no one is here to help me.” Her senior year everything changed.

The general manager of the Clayton Center, Blake Smith, asked her if she would be interested in holding a position as an Event Coordinator after she graduated. She would be given a different type of responsibility.

It was a position the Clayton Center was pursuing to help events go more efficiently. She was the first person the representatives recommended for this job. She made the decision to take the chance, and said yes. She did not hear from them again for about three months.

The second half of her senior year she decided it would be best to get some front of house experience under Regan, because of the possibility of the event coordinator job. She never realized how different it was, but had fun learning the ropes.

“Caroline is someone who did not wait for a certain opportunity to take action. Her nature is that of a self-starter, to be a higher achiever and the inner drive to do the best,” said Regan.

“They call it work study for a reason. You can feel like you developed, and learn effective ways to communicate down the line. I learned more practical skills in my work study job then I did in the classroom.” – Caroline Stuart

“She has a passion for people and works well with clients coming into the Clayton Center.”

Only being a possibility, she began to worry after not hearing about the job for a long period of time. Finally, she got an email asking to set up an interview.

She brought a presentation to the General Manager, Blake Smith, about giving event coordinating “a facelift” at the Clayton Center. He loved all the ideas she had, and she was hired right before she graduated. The Clayton Center built this job with her in mind, and she was excited to start this new journey.

Stuart is not the only success story with her position here at Maryville College. So many others have had the opportunity to take a job here at Maryville after they graduate even if it is not in their major. Stuart’s Bachelor’s degree is in vocal performance.

Yes, the Clayton Center is a performing arts center, but the position she holds now only deals with it slightly. Her degree had nothing to do with event coordinating, and she was learning new things every day.

Not only can work study help you get a job after college, but it also can let you learn new things and discover something you may never thought you would enjoy.

“You may learn something you never would have thought of,” said Stuart. Stuart never saw here in the position she is in now until after she got there. It is so “surreal” to think of where she was when she came to college versus where she is now.

“We’re the people who run this building” Stuart states, “If it wasn’t for all the hard work put into these events they wouldn’t happen for the community or Maryville College”.

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