Parker Ryan, Theatre Student

As the house lights dim and the curtain opens in NCC's Lipkin Theatre, a feeling of exhilaration floods the senses of theatre students who have been diligently preparing for roles in musicals and plays. It was that feeling of being part of the entertainment – and the overall experience of being onstage – that led sophomore student Parker Ryan to stick with theatre over his first choice of math as a program major.

"I really enjoy being able to go out and create something new that I haven't done, and in a certain aspect I'm allowing myself not to be myself. In a way, that's making me comfortable with who I am," says Ryan. "I just enjoy entertaining people."

The Nazareth Area High School graduate had been part of theatre productions prior to starting college, and the first college production that he worked on (2012's Civil War The Musical) helped him to realize that performing was something he truly cared about. He's been able to branch out in community theatre since, having recently taken part in local dinner and interactive theatre, including parts in Finnigan's Farewell and Footloose. Now Ryan's goal is to someday teach in the field.

"It wasn't until recently that I'd decided on that," he explains. "I just finished my first season coaching youth soccer in Bethlehem, and in high school I was a tutor. It had never clicked in my mind that I enjoy teaching and that it comes naturally to me. I enjoy performing and teaching isn't a last resort. Hopefully I can do both."

Ryan is a member of both Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa, is balancing 19 credits during the Fall 2013 semester, and recently wrapped up a time period in which he maintained three separate jobs. Now down to one job outside of the classroom, Ryan says that being a full-time student has taught him two things over the past 18 months: time management, and also that people will help you as long as you want them to and as long as you'll let them.

"For the time management thing, it's just a matter of planning ahead," says Ryan. "I've had a few professors here who I've been able to talk to and they've gotten me to open up in class and helped me get through some health issues that I was still dealing with from before I got here. Before, it was about being cautious and conserving energy. Being here helped me to rediscover my confidence and see myself in a better light."

Ryan is hoping to transfer to a four-year program and then enter into Chicago's Second City Training Center – the largest school of improvisation in the world and also the launching point for talents who have gone on to star in shows like "Saturday Night Live."

"I realize that the field is very competitive, and Second City has a very big success rate. There are a lot of different aspects to it," says Ryan. "It's all about being exposed to new opportunities…and overall, having a fun experience."

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