Dublin High School Graduate’s Passion for Theatre Earns Full Scholarship to St. Mary’s College of California
Dublin High School graduate Sarah Finn’s hours of planning, rehearsing and performing in Dublin High’s Little Theatre, while simultaneously tackling AP and Honors courses, paid off earlier this year when St. Mary’s College of California awarded the Class of 2012 graduate $37,000 in academic and theatre scholarships.
The Murray Elementary, Wells Middle and Dublin High School graduate has participated multiple Dublin High School Drama Club productions, most recently appearing as Penny Sycamore in “You Can’t Take it With You“. In addition to acting in multiple productions, Ms. Finn has also been a stage manager and student director.
OneDublin.org: You are entering St. Mary’s College of California to pursue a double major in theatre and English. How did you decide on that path?
Sarah Finn: “Originally I was considering a degree in English – I was inspired by [Dublin High School teacher] Sarah Hollison, both as a student and as her teaching assistant for two years. I was given the opportunity to sit in on both her freshman and sophomore Honors English classes. The literary discussions in the Honors and AP classes clicked for me, I knew I loved the subject matter and I have a knack for teaching. Sometimes I’d even end up helping teach Ms. Hollison’s freshman class.
“Yet theatre is my passion and I didn’t want to give that up either. When I’m in the theatre I have a family, a connection, it’s something I’m really good at. That’s why I decided to pursue a double major in theatre and English, so that I can combine my passion of theatre with my skill in teaching. By combining the two majors I can work in stage management, as an English teacher or a theatre teacher – I have all these possibilities.”
OneDublin.org: What did you learn when you had the opportunity to be Stage Manager for the Dublin High School production of ‘Hide and Shriek’?
Finn: “I watched [Dublin High School Class of 2010 graduate] Cynthia Moore stage manage productions for years and asked her what I needed to do, and she gave me the run down on the charts I would need and the organization required backstage. I spent a lot of nights making charts and figuring out the rehearsal schedule, what stage managers do in real life. I was able to be hands on with the blocking of the show, helping students run lines, working with props and sets, including stepping in and taking control of rehearsals occasionally for [Dublin High School Drama Director] Bryant Hoex. I didn’t realize that as stage manager you get to dabble in everything. With that comes crazy responsibility and stress. The stress, however, made it more rewarding in the end, knowing that you’d worked so hard keeping everything in line.”
OneDublin.org: How does opening night differ when you are backstage vs. being an actor on stage?
Finn: “When you are an actor you are nervous because you are the one out there, but when you are backstage as a stage manager or director you don’t have as much control over what happens on stage. Backstage you are the safety net, you have to be ready and not get jittery. I’d pace in the lobby before the show, but once the show started, if something went wrong, I’d be thinking ‘How do I fix it?’. How can I help the actors, support them? You need to be able to immediately find solutions.”
OneDublin.org: How did you end up choosing St. Mary’s College of California?
Finn: “I started as every student does looking at major theatre schools like NYU, thinking reputation is everything, but then I realized that these schools require you to write your name in blood to one department and one focus. For example, if I went to NYU and went into acting, I would just be acting, or if I chose technical theatre it would just be technical theatre, I wouldn’t be able to criss-cross different disciplines. I wanted the ability to act in a show or stage manage or check out costuming, or lighting. I wanted to be able to learn all theatre, not just one specific aspect. St. Mary’s offered that choice. They want students who are interested in theatre in general, rather than one specific discipline.
“St. Mary’s also offered me a technical theatre scholarship, which required going through an audition process. And even though I was awarded a technical theatre scholarship, St. Mary’s is going to allow me to act too. They are completely flexible in helping you learn all aspects of the theatre which sold me. It’s what Dublin High School is like – you can try and do everything.
“St. Mary’s College is awesome with their financial aid – right off the bat they tell you what you are qualified for. I was also awarded two academic scholarships for a total of $37,000 which is covering my tuition. All I have to cover is room and board. The academic scholarships were based on my test scores, GPA and interview. I found private colleges are excellent with scholarships. The public colleges don’t have as much money to give.”
OneDublin.org: What do you recommend incoming freshman do to get the most out of Dublin High School?
Finn: “Freshman year I didn’t participate in the Drama Program which is probably my biggest regret. Once you find what clicks – in a classroom setting, in extracurricular activities, whatever it is – once you find that group of people or that hobby or that sport, go for it. Don’t hold back or wait for next year. You have four years so take advantage of what Dublin High has to offer – you are bound to find something that you love.”
OneDublin.org: How did you maintain a high GPA while participating in the theatre?
Finn: “There are definitely moments when you feel like your head is going to explode but don’t worry, it’s won’t. Just remember that while academics are important, life is more than numbers and books. There is a lot that you can learn, socially and morally through other aspects of your high school experience. You need to learn all aspects of life, not just academics; you need to learn how to work with people, how the world works. I decided which assignments were the most important and how to focus my time which helped me exceed a 4.0 including weighted AP classes. What you get from extracurricular activities is worth just as much as, or more than, that A+.”
In addition to being awarded scholarships to attend St. Mary’s College of California, at the Dublin High School Class of 2012 Senior Awards Night Ms. Finn was recognized as a California Scholarship Federation Life Member and won a President’s Gold Award for Education Excellence.