Volume 18 • Issue 1
On Campus: Student News
Southwestern Students Partner with High School Students on Unique Theatre Project
Can a play change peoples attitudes about difficult subjects such as race and alternative lifestyles?
A California theater company thinks so, and students from Southwestern have had a unique opportunity to partner with them on a project in Williamson County.
This fall, the Fringe Benefits theater came to Texas to put on a Theatre for Social Justice Institute for students from Southwestern University and the Round Rock Independent School District. The focus of the institute was Race and High School students.
During the course of a week, the students worked with representatives from Fringe Benefits to develop a play based on real incidents related to racial discrimination that have happened at Round Rock high schools. The play will be performed in several locations next spring.
I think the play that came out of the institute is fabulous, says Kathleen Juhl, associate professor of theatre at Southwestern. The project came about through the efforts of Juhl and Aaron Johnson 04 who now teaches drama at McNeil High School in Round Rock.
Among the Southwestern students participating in the project is Diana Parra, a first-year student from Plano, Texas.
Im Hispanic, so I know about racial issues in high schools, Parra says. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
Several students enjoyed the institute so much that they are planning to start a theatre for social justice organization on campus.
First-Year Student Recognized for Work as Advocate for the Disabled
First-year student Amy Litzinger was recognized in October for her efforts to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
Litzinger was one of six students selected to receive a $5,000 scholarship from the Texas Conference for Women. The award was presented at a conference attended by more than 8,000 businesswomen from across the state.
Litzinger received the scholarship given to a student who plans to pursue a career in the area of public service. In her essay applying for the scholarship, Litzinger detailed how her career path has been shaped by the fact that she was born with quadriplegia. She has been an active advocate for the disabled since the 9th grade, when she helped her Girl Scout troop organize an ability awareness fair that was attended by 2,000 children. That same year, she testified before the Texas Legislature against a budget proposal that would have cut services to 75,000 persons with disabilities.
Litzinger is a board member of the Texas Youth Leadership Forum and is one of 12 youths from across the country selected for the National Council on Disability Youth Advisory Committee, which advises Congress on issues related to persons with disabilities. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also appointed her to the Texas Childrens Policy Council and in July 2005, she helped former President George H.W. Bush give out awards at a Kennedy Center event marking the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She has organized summer conferences to train youth in how to be leaders and has taught workshops to help teens with disabilities learn how to testify before their state legislatures.
People with disabilities must always be advocates, both on the federal and state level, because almost everything is touched by federal and state initiatives, Litzinger says.
Last summer she served as an intern with Texas Rep. Mark Stramas Campaign Academy.
Litzinger is majoring in political science and English at Southwestern. After graduation, she hopes to earn a masters degree in public policy or attend law school.
First Lady of Texas Anita Perry called Litzinger in September to tell her that she had been selected to receive the scholarship from the Texas Conference for Women.
I was surprised and very excited to learn the news, Litzinger says.