Alumni Spotlight: Kayla Lansing '18


Theatre Newsletter | April 2021

It is no secret that many St. Ambrose University theatre students go on to find great success in their careers post-graduation. Kayla Lansing '18 is no exception.

Lansing graduated from SAU with degrees in Theatre and Psychology, was a member of the academic Honors Program, and then went right into the Master of Arts in Theatre-Drama Therapy program at Kansas State University the semester following commencement.

While at Kansas State, Lansing found that drama therapy was the perfect combination of both her degrees. At its core, drama therapy is the purposeful use of theatrical practices such as improvisation, puppetry, and storytelling to help people better their mental health and achieve their therapeutic goals. During her graduate program, she participated in a program called Barrier Free Theatre where adults with intellectual disabilities came together to write and perform a play, as well as had an arts therapy internship with Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines.

While her classes and internships certainly kept her busy, Lansing still managed to find time to shine on stage while at Kansas State. During her stay there, she participated in productions of Men on Boats, Stop Kiss, and Straight White Men.

While her master's program had an unusual ending due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she made sure there was still a special recognition in her final thesis.

"I included Cory [Johnson] in the dedication of my thesis," said Lansing. "She was one of the strongest influences pushing me towards graduate school and of course, one of the hardest writing critics I've ever encountered!"

Since graduation from Kansas State, Lansing has returned to her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is currently working as an inpatient program counselor at Tanager Place, a non-profit agency that provides mental health services for children and their families. While she has not performed recently, she has every intention of becoming an active member of the Cedar Rapids theatre community once the COVID-19 pandemic clears up.

Kayla Lansing '18

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Since graduation, Kayla has earned a master's degree and now works at Tanager Place as an inpatient program counselor.

Most importantly, Lansing would like to thank everyone in the theatre department at SAU for shaping her into the artist she is today.

"My theatre experience at SAU was nothing short of phenomenal," Lansing said. "Looking back, I couldn't have asked for a better environment to learn and grow in. I really felt like I was coming home every time I stepped onto the mainstage, the studio theatre, the scene shop, or into Cory's office."

All in all, everyone in the St. Ambrose University Theatre Department could not be prouder of all the success Lansing has found during her years after graduation. While her impact on the department during her tenure at SAU was significant (Newsletter Editor, Michael Kennedy Scholar, etc.) we already know that the impact she will have on so many lives working as a drama therapist is far, far greater. Many thanks to Lansing for being a glowing example of what you can achieve with a theatre degree from SAU!


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