By Michael Harman
Senior Writer

This is the third in a series that the Student Life section has begun. A different member of the Washington College Community that has since graduated and returned to WC will be featured. These people may be teachers, faculty, coaches, etc, but all have a story to tell and have many things to say about their time here at the College.

As a student, it is very humbling to know that professors who return to campus after spending time here as an undergrad still love it to this day. Michele Volansky, current chair and associate professor of Drama as well as program director of the dance minor, recounts her days here at Washington College with great pride.

“The first weekend I came to WC, I remember going to the Lit House one day and then hanging out with the frat boys the next,” said Volansky. “There was such a mix of students on campus and everyone was friendly with people outside of their comfort zone, which I would say continues to this day.”

One of the many reasons that Volansky had her heart set on WC was the “eclectic and diverse range of people.” In addition, Volansky could see the great connections that students made with professors.

“Whenever I needed help, my advisors were always there to help out and figure out what the problem was in kind and gentle ways,” stated Volanksy.

On pursuing drama as a career, Volansky stated, “It was not until I took a drama theory course which consisted of me, the professor, and only one other student, that the professor told me that I should consider becoming a dramaturge.” While the minimal class size has increased since then, the close connections between students and professors have remained the same.

As a 1990 graduate of Washington College with an English degree, Volanksy took the advice of her former professor and became very involved in dramaturgy and theater productions, with stints at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Philadelphia Theatre Company. Each place proved to Volansky how much she desired to be involved in theater work. It was not until 2001 that Volansky became a WC adjunct for the Drama Program.

During this time Volansky was still working at the Philadelphia Theatre Company.

“It is as if Washington College puts a boomerang in each student’s head and once they leave, they have to return sooner or later,” said Volansky.

She had been offered various teaching jobs before returning to WC but she stated that “the timing was not right,” realizing, also, that the spot-on liberal arts education that one receives at WC was the reason that she ultimately decided to return.

“I did not want to teach only drama students. I wanted to teach drama to every student on the spectrum: psychology majors, biology majors, even business majors. Learning from all areas of study and then applying them to your own field gives students a much better perspective on life, and even people,” stated Volansky. “Being able to teach students from different majors meant I was also learning from them as well.”

The distinction that Volansky makes between WC and other liberal arts schools is that “people at Washington recognize the value of what we are teaching. We are providing students with the understanding that people are different, and that there are many ways to look at a subject. One just has to find what pleases them.”

In order for students to learn this, Volansky urges them to “pay attention, listen, and be accepting of the world around you. Recognize that things are different from one another and do not be afraid to ask questions.”

The Elm

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