Brendan Smith: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... They Care!

Stasia Lopez's picture

Brendan Smith studied Technical Theater at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)-South Campus, and graduated May 2020. 
Brendan Smith: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... They Care!

How did you choose your major? What motivated you to choose that field/profession? 
I chose Technical Theater due to a teacher I had in high school telling me to get into the club when I was a junior. I enjoyed working with the teacher, so I went and fell in love with all the elements of technical theater. That year, we did the show Suessical, and I helped run mics backstage with a few other students and loved being behind the scenes. My teacher then hired me to help run the dance shows that would come in over the summer, for $10 an hour, where I’d come in and run lights or pull curtains for him. That was truly my first job in this profession.
Brendan Smith: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... They Care!

What did you enjoy about attending CCAC? Any memorable moment to share? 
When I got to CCAC, I was hired as a work study in the theater department, where I worked with many people who really taught me along the way, including Conrad Quesen, Kevin Maloney, Diana Ifft, and JR Hall. But in my second semester, I met George Jaber fresh off a sabbatical. I walked in on the first day back in spring semester and introduced myself. The first words he spoke to me were “You’re my work study? Where you been, we have a show to do!” And ever since then I’ve worked as George’s right-hand man.

How involved were you at CCAC? Did you study abroad? Did you have internships or Co-Ops? Clinicals and/or practicums? Were you a part of any clubs, sports, or extracurriculars? 
I was a work study for the theater department. I performed in many shows while attending CCAC. I was President of both the Drama club and then Improv, Film, and Theatre Society (IFT). I was also in Dance, practicing where we performed a few shows. 
Brendan Smith: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... They Care!

Did any of these experiences lead you into realizing your passions for work and career? 
Work study really showed me how much work I could go and do in technical theater.

What (transferable) skills did you gain that you could take into a workplace? 
I learned how to stand in front of a crowd and public speak. I also learned leadership through many of my experiences where George or another teacher would let us take a bigger role. 

What are you hoping to do next? What would you like to do professionally? 
I work with IATSE Local 3 working concerts and shows in downtown Pittsburgh.

How do you manage stress (most especially during these uncertain times)? 
I find myself doing more projects on the side, like I have started an Etsy business for wood burnings. (which I so cleverly named Brendan woodburns).

What do you want prospective college students to know—what advice do you have for them? 
I would want anyone who is looking to go to college or looking to take classes to know it’s ok to experiment. Take classes you normally wouldn’t take and try to see if there is a path you haven’t thought of yet.

Who inspires you and why? Do you have any mentors or people of influence in your life? 
I have many mentors who have helped shaped who I am today. The people I looked up to the most are my parents. My mom and dad always made sure they were there for us as kids. Then, as I was in school, I looked up to many of my teachers, including ones like my third grade teacher Mrs. Bergel, who took care of me like I was one of her own. Mr. Stanley, who was my band teacher first, but then showed me what theater could do for me. And then in college, it was George, who not only showed me the way in theater, but many aspects in life. George has gotten me more work than I could have ever asked for. 

Anything else you’d like for us to know? 
I have enjoyed my time at CCAC–and now work at south campus in the film department! 

Brendan Smith: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... They Care!


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Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Director of Career Services at the Community College of Allegheny County. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University in 2013 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel, college to career topics and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.