Shy student finds her career focus at Madison College

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As a Madison West high school student, Dominique Diamante was too quiet and shy to even try acting or speaking in front of an audience. Now, she is planning a career in theater and was named a Student Ambassador for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Dominique Diamante stands outside Mitby Theater.

In search of a vocation

After enrolling at Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis. as a liberal arts transfer student in 2014, Diamante wanted to explore different careers. She took classes in welding, philosophy and criminology. In her History of Costume and Stagecraft course, Diamante discovered the world of theater.

Introduction to Acting class helped Diamante feel more comfortable speaking in front of others. She soon became a student ambassador for Madison College, giving tours and speaking at events. Diamante eagerly shares her story with prospective students and answers questions about college life. She also works as a receptionist in the Student Life office and tutors high school students on weekends.

“She has a passion for creativity, self-expression and social justice,” said Doug Kirchberg, instructor and advisor for the Madison College Student Ambassadors. “Dominique is the kind of person who brings about change by supporting others and empowering them to advocate for themselves. She meets people where they are and truly listens to them, making them feel like a valued member of the college community.”

Growing confidence

Diamante’s first acting audition was for the Madison College production of “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris. “It was scary but, in the midst of it all, I thought it was a really cool process,” she recalls.

She wasn’t cast, but was asked to be the assistant stage manager, helping with props, actors and set changes. “I really got to know the actors and was there to support them,” Diamante said. “Being backstage in the midst of show is really magical.”

Since then she has added roles in Frank Galati’s adaptation of “Grapes of Wrath” and “The Burial at Thebes,” a version of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” to her resume. This spring Diamante tried her hand at directing in John Cariani’s “Love/Sick,” a series of nine vignettes involving 13 actors and seven student directors. She enjoys being in charge and pride and comfort in the organization working backstage requires. Directing allows Diamante to express her ideas and find solutions to problems. She enjoys the creative challenges.

After one rehearsal, theater instructor Miranda Hawk pulled Diamante aside to tell her she had a good disposition for a director and praised her relationships with the actors. Later, Diamante learned that her scene was recommended for inclusion in a prestigious national theater festival.

“This meant a lot to me because it was a validation of my dreams and ambitions to become a director,” she said.

Finding her calling

Discovering theater at Madison College was a turning point, the first step in her journey to a directing career. “I learned I can do this,” she said. “I need to do this. Performing arts changed my life.”

Each year student ambassadors are chosen from each of the 16 Wisconsin technical colleges. As a WTCS Student Ambassador, Diamante will champion opportunities in technical education at events and in publications throughout the coming year. She recently graduated with an associate degree and plans to continue her theater education at a four-year college or university, perhaps a historically black college or university.

Her advice to incoming technical college students: “Jump right in. Take risks. Get out of your comfort zone.” That strategy helped her learn more about herself and discover a career that suits her abilities.