Education Without Boundaries
Theatre major Jacob Zabawa ’14 jokes that he knows exactly what he wants to do with his life: “Get famous!”
His quest for eventual celebrity started with an Internet search for a small liberal arts college with a strong theatre department. He says he thought Goucher really "fit the bill" and was further impressed with its inclusion in The Colleges That Change Lives.
When Zabawa came to Goucher from Auburn, AL, he says, "I could really feel that this was a good place for me." Specifically, he says he was drawn to the open-minded group of people he found here, the diversity of things to do on campus, and the college's connection with Baltimore City.
And he has really come to appreciate the strong theatre department that brought him to Goucher in the first place. "Everyone in the department is very supportive, and they always keep me on my toes," he says. "I keep having classes that really challenge me."
Zabawa says he had classes in high school that he enjoyed, but now he feels as if he is really learning new things in his classes. "I feel like I'm having knowledge dropped on me every day," he says.
He has been very involved in theatre productions on campus, including performing a singing role in Animal Farm: The Musical; acting in Ti Jean Blues, an adaptation of the works of Jack Kerouac; and performing on the djembe, a West African drum, in two senior student theses productions. He was also a member of Pizzazz, the musical theatre ensemble at Goucher.
Zabawa's interest in theatre has also become a vector for him to explore issues of social justice. Through a community-based learning course he took in theatre, he has begun volunteering at Dallas Nicholas Sr. Elementary School in Baltimore City with Enact-a-Story, an interactive and innovative storytelling program. He now co-directs this student-run initiative, which promotes literacy, critical thinking, and cultural development in inner-city students.
It's an after-school program, so by the time the volunteers arrive, "the kids are already really crazy," Zabawa says. He and other program participants get the children to read books and enact their favorite scenes. They also do a lot of theatre warm-up activities and play improv games to get the children to think on their toes.
Zabawa says the students respond really well. "They do have so much energy and are so exuberant. They love it a lot," he says.
Following the positive, transformative experience he has had working with the children at Dallas Nicholas, Zabawa has begun taking more classes in Goucher's Peace Studies Program. If stardom isn't imminent, he hopes to combine performance and peace studies in conflict resolution theatre, perhaps as part of a troupe.
Zabawa also anticipates having his horizons expanded in other ways during his time at Goucher. He has never left the country and thinks studying abroad is going to be incredibly exciting: "There are so many places I want to go — Southeast Asia, Ghana, Italy, or South America to live in the forest canopy."
With the opportunities Goucher offers in the classroom, in the surrounding community, and in settings around the world, Zabawa says he is glad to be at the college and is having a lot of fun with a really good group of supportive friends. "Goucher has a wonderful community. It has really good values that it upholds and enforces. I love it here," he says.