Fine and performing arts major Jess Atanas '12 has found her niche at MCLA. A classically trained singer and coloratura soprano, she's been performing since she was 8.
"I have performed with various companies and in various operas and operettas, including La Boheme, Turandot, Parsifal, Hansel unt Gretel and others at the Metropolitan Opera in their Children's Chorus," Atanas said. "Even though I've been performing most of my life, and I still do, I've come here to really focus on the behind-the-scenes for productions. I've become very interested in scenic painting and if I could make a career of being a scenic painter and designer, it would be a dream."
From Closter, N.J., she learned about MCLA at a college fair.
"I was looking for a small school that wasn't expensive, with a flexible theater and art program," Atanas explained. "When I came for an open house, I fell in love with the people and the school. I'm happy that I came here."
Everything she needs to prepare for her future is on campus.
"We have a very active theater program with a lot of shows and we have a great art program in which I can learn all of the skills I need," Atanas said. "It's also great that I can learn all of these skills and have both of these majors at the same institution."
A self-described "theater kid," most days Atanas can be found painting in the scenic shop or chatting with her professors.
"I am very active and involved in the program," she said. In addition to her involvement in the Yorick and Harlequin theater clubs and the Dance Company, she was the assistant scenic designer and paint charge for this fall's Mainstage production of As You Like It.
"I am in three dances for Dance Company this semester, and I am a co-director with Meghan McGrath for Harlequin's Musical Review, as well as in three other pieces for that show," Atanas said. "I feel like I bring a good work ethic and my own personal experience in theater, art and performance to the table of each of the shows that I'm involved in."
Her other interests include reading, making jewelry and traveling. "I traveled with a choir and performed in Austria, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland my junior year of high school. I've also been to Mexico and Puerto Rico. And, I like to cook."
Atanas works as an ambassador for MCLA's Office of Admission.
"After meeting all of the other ambassadors and everyone else who works in Admissions, I realized that they are all great people and that I would love working with them," she said. "Now that I do work with them, I must say that I am deeply honored that they hired me and that they count me as part of their Admissions family. It's also a fun job, and what better way to show my appreciation of this school?
"MCLA is like a second family, at least in my experience," she continued. "I'm not just a student ID number or a tuition check, I'm an individual who wants to learn, and every professor I've ever had has fostered that desire. It's the community and the friendliness and openness of everyone that makes this school."