Jackson NickolayTheatre major
Hovland, Minnesota

Stage right
Jackson was starting to think he'd never find a college that was committed both to faith and art when he discovered Northwestern. He'd toured a number of Christian schools, but they didn't seem as dedicated to theatre as he was. Northwestern offered the right balance, he says, because he saw "students who were actively pursuing excellence in theatre arts while not being afraid to let their faith and love for God shine through their work." Now Jackson is one of those students, starring in numerous Northwestern productions, traveling around the world with the Drama Ministries Ensemble and choreographing performances for RUSH. He recently added an arts administration minor so after college, he'll be ready to take on any role.

Ready for his close-up
I've wanted to act since as far back as I can remember. Whether it was movie lines, skits, children's plays, or just pretending, I loved the whole process of acting and getting the chance to step into another character's shoes. There's something so pure and real about sitting two rows away from an actor who, at any moment, could do something no one else has ever seen before- who might stop to look at you and deliver his line right into your eyes. Theatre offers you the chance to be part of something that no one else will be part of ever again. It allows you to experience a performance that is different from every performance before it and every performance to come. That's the magic of theatre that drove me to pursue this field as my major.

Small college
One of the benefits of the theatre department and really Northwestern as a whole is that there isn't an overwhelming number of students. This enables much more personal relationships with professors. When the times come that you need extra help with something, they are more than willing to take the extra time to be sure your effort earns you more than just a good grade on your report card.

Big opportunities
Spring semester of my sophomore year, I traveled with the Drama Ministries Ensemble to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to perform a play called Iowa Ethiopia. The play was written by Professor Jeff Barker; it's about a nurse missionary to Africa. The 10-day trip really opened my eyes to a whole other part of the world. It expanded the way I view things and made me realize how big the world really is.

Community theatre
I think the greatest strength of Northwestern's theatre department is the camaraderie with fellow artists and the professors. It's always a big step when you move into a new area with new people, and as an artist you need to be able to trust those around you. Northwestern's theatre is a place where you can experiment, where you can learn things, and even if in the end you fail, you know there will be people behind you to pick you back up and keep pushing you forward.