Checking In With 2020 Grads


This year has undoubtedly been difficult for many people. The St. Ambrose University Theatre Department Class of 2020 is no exception. While having to end their final months at SAU early was not ideal, that did not stop these graduates from getting started in the professional world.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there was a worldwide shutdown, and theaters all across the country were forced to close their doors indefinitely. Therefore, it has become more difficult to participate in the arts. However, that is not stopping St. Ambrose alumnae Abigail Carpenter ‘20 and Melissa Maylum ‘20 from finding theatrical work in this difficult job market.

Carpenter graduated last semester with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She was an active member of the SAU Theatre Department and is still finding ways to stay involved in the Davenport community.

"Honestly, I graduated at a pretty awful time," Carpenter said. "Thankfully, I was able to pick up a job in a floral shop, which is something still in the creative realm, so I was glad about that!"

In addition to working as a florist during the day, Carpenter also teaches classes at Davenport Junior Theatre and recently performed in the Broadway Backwards Cabaret at the Circa '21 Speakeasy in Rock Island, Illinois.

"I had a blast singing songs from shows such as Waitress and The Book of Mormon," Carpenter said. "Honestly, it was just so much fun performing in a safe, responsible, and welcoming environment. This pandemic has been devastating, but socially-distanced performance opportunities from Circa '21 made my summer a little brighter."

abbie carpenter

Making It Work

Abbie Carpenter '20

In addition to her day job, Abbie also teaches at Junior Theatre and recently performed in "Broadway Backwards Cabaret" at Circa '21.

Melissa "Mel" Maylum also graduated in May 2020 and quickly took the skills she learned to start looking for jobs in the theatre community.

"Adjusting to the professional world has been crazy given the circumstances," Maylum said. "Not only is it frustrating to look for jobs in the theatre community right now, but it's also stressful having to wonder if I will ever find a job in my field with all of the adjustments that are necessary to stop the spread of the virus. I am remaining positive, however, and trying to manifest opportunities for myself at every moment."

While the pandemic derailed a lot of Maylum's plans - such as a stage management job at Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, Minnesota - the saying "when one door closes, another opens," could not be more true.

"I am super happy to announce that I received a stage management job at Circa '21," Maylum said. "I'll be stage managing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and everyone should come out and see it. It's a tradition in the QC theatre community, and I am so happy to be involved."

Furthermore, while Maylum is ecstatic about her spook-tacular stage management job, she has another exciting opportunity lined up as well.

"My biggest plan right now is to seek all opportunities possible," Maylum said. "I will be working with AmeriCorp at Davenport Junior Theatre in a couple of weeks! While I certainly miss costuming, designing, and collaborating, I'm looking forward to expanding my skill set and hopefully moving to a new state within a year!"

All in all, these two SAU Theatre graduates are trying to make the best of it. Though their after graduation plans did not go as planned, this clearly has not stopped them from pursuing their passion. The entire department is proud of these two ambitious graduates and cannot wait to see where their theatrical journeys take them.


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