Maria Enriquez (PhD, 2019)
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? Why did you choose to pursue your degree at Pitt?
I always loved school and despite already having a terminal degree (MFA) I used a job rejection as an excuse to pursue my PhD. The thought of delving deeper into my career passion excited me. My previous training prepared me for a practical career in the arts, but I was curious and hungry to grow my theoretical knowledge of the field. Pitt appealed to me because of its Special Option. The fact that the program supported direct involvement in theatre production work concurrently with their studies was exactly what I was looking for. So many grad programs seem to frown upon students creating theatre while earning their PhD, but I wanted to remain active as a theatre practitioner while completing my degree. While at Pitt, I directed a student production, performed in a mainstage musical, was the Movement Consultant for another student production, and received funding to attend the SITI Company Summer Intensive. I didn't feel like I had to choose between being a theatre practitioner or historian. I could be both.
How did the degree program help prepare you for your career?
It shaped the way I think so my approach is totally different today than it was, say, 10 years ago. The way I look at theatre, the way I look at the world and my place in it, has completely evolved. For that, I'm grateful.
What is your current position and what does it involve?
I am the Assistant Teaching Professor of Theatre at Penn State Harrisburg. Not to sound cheesy or braggy, but this is my dream job. I coordinate our Theatre minor, which was implemented in the 5 years I've been here, and the long goal is to implement an Integrative Arts Major. Since I'm the only full-time theatre professor on campus, I oversee the theatre curriculum and hiring of our adjuncts, as well as our production season. Typically, I direct once a year and will work with guest directors when they come onboard. Lastly, I am the faculty advisor for the campus theatre and dance clubs, and am on the Cultural Series Committee, which brings live performance events to our campus. At times, this is all a carefully choreographed dance to keep everything balanced, but I like that my job keeps me on my toes and utilizes multiple skillsets. Plus, I've been able to become involved in our local theatre community and effect change. The Fulton Theatre asked me to be on their DEI committee, and I am a company member with Teatro Paloma, one of the few Latinx theatre companies in Central PA.
Thoughts and Advice for Current Graduate Students?
This didn't really sink in until I was writing my dissertation but, trust yourself and don't be afraid of your voice.