Making your own story

Theater student expands his horizons and works to make the world better

To make a difference in the world, you first must know where to start. With Michael Duncan, December 2020 graduate of Kansas State University, he knew he wanted to make a difference, and K-State helped him achieve that ambition.

Michael majored in theater and knew K-State was the place for him once he stepped on campus. “I saw how caring the faculty are and how many opportunities students in the theater program have. I also knew it was a good educational fit for me since I didn’t just want to study theater. I came into college wanting to learn a lot and do as much as I could,” said Michael. “The collaborative atmosphere of campus made it easy for me to get involved in a lot of different student organizations and engage in different programs of study.”

Michael kept busy while he studied. While majoring in theater, he also received minors in leadership studies and business, a nonprofit certificate, and a film and media studies certificate. Knowing he wanted to continue to grab every opportunity the university has to offer, Michael secured an internship with Volunteer Mzansi Afrika in Cape Town, South Africa, through the International Service Teams program at the Staley School of Leadership Studies.

“I got to be a para teacher at the local primary school and teach drama lessons at the local secondary school. It helped me grow as an educator and I could see myself as a theater educator one day. But more than that, it was transformational experiencing another culture, getting to know and working with people in another country, and shaping my worldview,” said Michael. “After that experience, I realized I want to include multiculturalism more into the work I do in arts and entertainment. Diversity, inclusion and equity are keys to improving our world and the arts are a great way to push these ideals forward.”

Michael’s learning did not end in the classroom. “As a theater major, my degree has pushed me to be a better collaborator and innovator. I have a solid understanding of teamwork and being an excellent communicator,” said Michael. “I haven’t just learned how to work in the theater industry, I’ve learned how to be a better creator in a world that needs creative thinkers.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic deterring a lot of Michael’s future plans, he is realizing that being adaptable is one of the most important things he learned at K-State. “It’s amazing to see how theaters are adapting and finding ways to perform, produce and operate online. There are lots of arts organizations looking for remote work right now, and I’m applying for them left and right,” said Michael. “I would love a job right now in arts administration, but also want to pursue acting professionally. K-State has prepared me for my next steps by showing me how much potential I have, helping me grow both personally and professionally, giving me connections with people in my field across the country, and helping me become more well-rounded.”

Keeping his future in mind, Michael knows that with the skills that K-State taught him, he can accomplish his dreams even in times of crisis. “I want to make the world happier, more knowledgeable and more open-minded with the stories I am a part of. In arts and entertainment, our job is storytelling,” said Michael. “I want to produce, tell and be a part of stories that will make the world a more diverse, inclusive and equitable place. I feel like K-State has put me on the road to great things ahead.”

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Jared Schiel

Jared Schiel Executive Development Officer- Business Administration


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Ian Peters Development Officer - Arts and Sciences