Featured Alumni

A Theatre Degree from UMBC can lead to a number of diverse career paths.

Featured here is just a small sampling of what some of the UMBC Department of Theatre Graduates have done after graduation.

*Updated January 12th 2022

Anderson Wells, Class of 2013

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

My full-time day-job is working as the Education Manager for Studio Acting Conservatory in Washington, D.C. I also teach classes for the Conservatory (adults during weeknights, children and teens on the weekends) and I perform as a drag queen named Vagenesis multiple nights a week. I try to direct or produce theatre whenever I can.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

The Imaginary Autopsee, directed by Colette Searls.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

The training I received as a UMBC Theatre student put me ahead of the curve as I trained at Studio Acting Conservatory. But it also helped me understand how to be a businessperson – advocating and marketing myself as a product people wanted to buy into. That knowledge has helped me in every field I’ve explored since graduating.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

I never thought I’d be known for my ability in drag. Now I find myself becoming one of the biggest names in this area’s drag scene. I get to use my theatrical training in every performance and that is invaluable.

 

Caitlyn Hooper, Class of 2021

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I am currently a teaching artist and the education apprentice at Everyman Theatre. Yes I still create art everyday!

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

My favorite project was absolutely Hunting and Gathering directed by Susan Stroupe, everything about the process had such a good energy. I learned so much from Susan as a director and working with my fellow castmates was phenomenal.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

Being an alum of UMBC Theatre has truly prepared me professional and personally to pursue theatre and make a living in the arts, all the faculty were wonderful mentors and the friends I made in the BFA program are lifelong collaborators

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

The most exciting part of my life right now is the ability I have to share theatre with students of all ages. It reminds me of why I love and chose to be a theatre artist seeing students find joy in art.

 

Bradly Widener, Class of 2012

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

*Recent Promotion* Director of Service & Experience at Trinity Rep in Providence, RI.

I still direct on the side when I can!

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

Incorruptible, directed by Colette Searls.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

It’s opened doors to theatre admin work that I never imagined myself being in. Also, I’ve got a lifelong best friend from the program, and that’s invaluable.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Being married and owning a historic home in Rhode Island!

 

Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith, Class of 1994

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

Writer and musician. Yes. The last play I wrote and produced was in 2017. My book The Good Hand came out this past February on Viking Press. It is mostly a memoir about my time working in the North Dakota oil field, but I talk a bit about acting in it. And I write about my relationship with Sam McCready, who taught acting and directed dozens of plays at UMBC.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

Diary of a Scoundrel. I had the opportunity to play the lead in this show, directed by Sam McCready, which went on to win awards at the American College Theater Festival and play the Kennedy Center.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

Well, I’ve kept creating theater. The training I received was incredible. Acting helped me as a writer as well with dialogue but also with the rhythm and sound of prose. I’ve kept in touch with several of my professors. I’m lucky to know them.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

I’m writing for outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. I’m working on a second full length album of original songs. I’m ruminating on a second book, and getting moving on a couple Hollywood projects as well. I also started doing some landscaping, which honestly is keeping me outdoors and feeling sane.

 

CJ Arbaugh, Class of 2018

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I am currently the assistant wig and makeup crew supervisor at Tuacahn Amphitheater.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

The first show I ever ran wigs for, Rhinoceros, directed by Eve Muson.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

The fact that I took classes in as many different technical departments as possible and have skills and knowledge in fields that are not “my field” has been invaluable on every theatrical contract I have ever worked.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

I just accepted a job offer with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas! I’ll be reopening KÀ with them on their hair and makeup team in November.

 

Christopher Dews, Class of 2013

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

Policy Advocate for the Job Opportunities Task Force – Yes I still do!

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

The Laramie Project in 2011, directed by Nyalls Hartman

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

Being a UMBC Theatre alum has helped me learned to take on the world boldly and alone.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Right now I’m passing legislation to decriminalize poverty.

 

Lena Salins, Class of 2012

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I work as a Production Manager for Theater and Events at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

OTMA, directed by Eve Muson.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

UMBC prepared me for my career. I’ve been working full time in theater ever since graduating.

 

Chad Short, Class of 2017

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I’m the Theatre Teacher for Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor, WA. My poem, “Smigarettes,” was published on October 15th, 2021 with Too Well Away Literary Journal – my 5th published poem of 2021! Since graduating, I have had short plays produced, landed acting jobs in Baltimore and Washington State, devised performances with alumni and former staff, and found an ideal work/life balance that enables me to create multiple forms of art, both virtually and in-person.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

This ones tough – I’d have to go with Two Gentlemen of Verona – April 2013, directed by Eve Muson. It was my first show on the proscenium stage, and the one to jumpstart my UMBC acting career. I remember being so nervous before opening night, shaking in the wings. The older students helped me through it. I will never forget that show.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

I have been able to build lasting and collaborative relationships within the Baltimore Theatre community. Alumni collaboration post-grad is substantial, based on my experience. I was very well prepared for life as an actor.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Being able to create. Having the free time to express myself. And also, passing that passion and energy onto the next generation. Teaching has taught me a lot, and makes me value my craft and the education I received more than ever.

 

Kiirstn Pagan, Class of 2011

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I am a freelance photographer, graphic designer, and videographer.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

I stage managed our production of Las Meninas (2010-2011, directed by Eve Muson) overseeing its tour from UMBC to KCACTF regionals at Towson University to KCACTF nationals at the Kennedy Center. It was an overall fabulous experience with an amazing play at the center of it. I learned so much working on this project that I continue to employ in my work today.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

UMBC Theatre has remained an ever-present part of my life since graduation: My classmates are some of my closest friends, many of my professors have become friends and colleagues, and I have returned to campus on several occasions to speak with current theatre majors about life beyond graduation and how my theatre degree has helped me shape my career.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

I just launched my own business, Kiirstn Pagan Creative Services LLC, helping people, organizations, and brands tell their story through photography, graphic design, and videography. Many of my clients are arts and culture organizations in the Baltimore/DC area, including the UMBC Department of Theatre! I am very much looking forward to capturing all of the department’s productions this year.

 

Mia Rickenbach, Class of 2019
Mia with her fiance Daniel after attending a screen painting class with Baltimore artist Michael Seipp – one of the few remaining educators of Baltimore’s screen painting folk art.

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I work for InterVarsity Christina Fellowship in the Mid-Atlantic Region as Digital Ministry Staff – which involves storytelling for the region. Still creating art, yes! Living in Baltimore city, I have recently started work as a muralist and community organizer (employing creativity when I can, for organizing).

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

Far Away by Carol Churchill for Studio 3 in 2018. I got to be the set designer, with one of my closest friends Meredith Faid as the Associate Set Designer and Scenic Charge. And a truly inspiring team of directors, fellow designers, stage managers, crew, actors, and mentors. I learned so much in the process, and was proud of the work we got to bring together.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

Upon graduation, I launched a non-profit startup called Create Freedom. This was inspired by my training in visual storytelling as a part of UMBC Theatre, and training in social entrepreneurship in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation minor at UMBC. Though that non-profit is set on the back-burner currently – I’ve found that the storytelling and entrepreneurial skills and spirit I developed in my time at UMBC has carried through every aspect of my life. Now, in my role as Digital Ministry Staff with InterVarsity, I’m practicing intrapreneurship (innovating a new role from within an existing organization), and getting to tell stories of the work of the ministry at both local, area, and regional levels!

One big takeaway from UMBC Theatre that I’ve been reminded of lately is the value of doing things even if they are small, and seem to exist only in obscurity. In a U.S. culture obsessed with individual success and influencing as many people as possible, I hope to be a person who can simply bless the lives of those I personally know. We talked about this in our Capstone class – how those who are most influential in our lives, are often unknown and unseen. I want to be influential in small ways – but that leave big impressions of love on those who I get to share life with.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Oh GOODNESS! Too much. I am very excited for the opportunity to root my life in Baltimore. I’m grateful, and a little shocked, to be engaged to my fiancé Daniel. We’re able to stay in the neighborhoods we’ve loved in Southwest Baltimore, walking distance from many people we care about and want to do life with. And I’m overjoyed to imagine what living here long-term could look like! Investing in the community, knowing our neighbors, and continuing to partner in community organizing. Hopefully painting a few more murals, maybe.

 

Kristen Bishel Browne, Class of 2003

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

Functional Nutritionist (pediatrics, family, & fertility).  I left the theatre industry 7 years ago, but I fulfill my artistic side with the occasional recreational knitting project.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

No favorites – every show I had the opportunity to work on (as SM, ASM, or light board op) was so much fun!

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

I connected with another UMBC Theatre alum after graduation who is the artistic director for the MD Renaissance Festival. I was lucky enough to serve as a SM there for 3 seasons and the connections I made to other local theatre actors and technicians was invaluable – many are still close friends of mine now even thought I am no longer involved in theatre.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Keeping up with my children (4.5 yrs old and 18 months old) – they are fun-loving balls of non-stop energy and every day with them is exciting (and exhausting)!

 

Elizabeth “Liz” Ung, Class of 2017

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

I am an Actor, Director, and Playwright, an all-around Theatre Artist! I also work as a Student Assistant and a part-time Teaching Artist for various school programs.

Yes, I am very much so! It’s a challenge to find consistent work in my field, but always so grateful for the opportunities that come up and the chances to stretch my creative limits.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

Ensemble Theatre and Devising.

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

I’m still connecting with former classmates and developed many friendships in various productions. Community is such an important part of this career and through theatre events, auditions, and productions, I’ve been able to strengthen our alumni bonds.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

Getting ready for Grad School, hoping to enroll at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa for Fall 2022! I’m so fortunate to be performing in these times around the DMV. Currently, I am in Theater Alliance’s devised show “A Chorus Within Her” and will be directing another devised piece at Fells Point Corner Theatre in June 2022.

 

Ben Nabinger, Class of 2017

What do you currently do for a living? Do you still have the chance to create art?

Over the summer, I worked as a Costume Production Assistant on a new film directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Spielberg and Tony Kushner. I am in my last year earning my MFA in costume design at UCLA, so I will finish the program in June 2022. I was also able to co-design costumes for a feature film over the summer, and I am currently designing costumes for Pericles, Prince of Tyre through the UCLA department of Theater.

What was your favorite project you worked on at UMBC?

Gidion’s Knot with Studio 3

How has being an alumni of the UMBC Theatre Program impacted your life after graduation?

Connections at UMBC helped get me my first internship out of school, where I eventually became the Costume Shop Manager/Resident Designer.

What is the most exciting part of your life right now?

I am beginning my thesis and advancing to candidacy for my MFA in Costume Design.

 

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