Brian Hemesath Earns Distinguished Alumni Award


Each fall, St. Ambrose University celebrates Homecoming week with many different events, such as pep rallies and food truck fests for students to enjoy. While all these festivities lead up to the big football game on Saturday, another annual event during the week is the College of Arts and Sciences alumni awards. This year, the winner of one of the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award was SAU Theatre Department alum, Brian Hemesath.

Hemesath, who was a theatre major with a minor in art, graduated from St. Ambrose in 1994 and then continued to Carnegie Mellon to earn his MFA in Costume Design.

Now, as a costume designer for the past 25 years, Hemesath has received numerous Emmy nominations for his work on Sesame Street and even costume designed the musical Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway.

For the skills needed to become an expert in the field of costume design, Hemesath said it is all about flexibility.

"In costume designing, there's a new challenge every day," Hemesath said. "Part of what makes costume designing so fun is that it is always different. You have to be able to think on your feet."

Brian explained that his time at St. Ambrose helped him obtain and hone those skills. After transferring from Yale University, Brian found a home at SAU and has never regretted it since.

"My time at St. Ambrose allowed me to see the whole picture," Hemesath said. "I believe that a liberal arts education teaches students to work hard and to see the value of broadening their horizons. It is important to look at the world as a whole."

Additionally, Hemesath went on to discuss the importance of being open-minded and taking on new and scary opportunities.

"In the world of theatre, there are a thousand ways to get to the same destination," he said. "I came to college thinking I would become an actor. However, at SAU, I was able to try my hand at other opportunities, such as directing and costume designing. So while my path to New York was not what I had originally thought it would be, my experiences have taught me that if people keep an open-mind, they'll realize they may end up liking new opportunities better."

Lastly, when asked what advice he would give to St. Ambrose students hoping to pursue careers in theatre post-graduation, he said, "I think it's important for students to make their own possibilities and to try new ideas. It's all about never giving up and believing in yourself."

All in all, the St. Ambrose Theatre Department is incredibly proud of all Hemesath's accomplishments, including winning the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award. While his current schedule has him busy creating costumes for Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, everyone here at SAU cannot wait to see what he will accomplish next.


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