When you think of an online degree program, the first major that pops up in your mind is probably not acting. Kelly Fandry, however, is using the $1,000 GetEducated Scholarship to continue an MA degree in that exact field and loving every minute of it. She is currently in her second semester in the online master in theatre program at Regent University. This Toledo, Ohio resident expects to graduate in May 2018.
“Online education, while a serious commitment, also provides a lot of flexibility that offers a very unique and amazing experience,” Kelly says. “Pursuing my MA this way was the perfect fit for me; I am able to continue work full-time and school full-time.”
Kelly says that her schedule is crazy but she would not have it any other way. She just wrapped up a short film in New York City, she acts in local commercials, and performs in repertory and regional theatre. As if that wasn’t enough she is also currently employed as a teacher at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
“Between my class load and work schedule, sometimes it feels like I live out of my planner, but the juggle is immensely worth it,” Kelly says. “I know I want to spend my career and life in this industry, and my pursuit of graduate education is a testament to that.”
Like many other students, going to college online gives her the opportunity to control her schedule a little more. “Work, rehearsals, or my students...sometimes those things are out of my control, and I have to roll with the punches and accept what opportunities come my way,” she explains. For Kelly, earning her master's online is unique in a way that fits her life perfectly and she is grateful for her amazing experience.
Last semester Kelly took two reading intensive classes that required several large papers—Dramaturgy and Text Analysis. The type of work that one would think “typical” of online education. She said that it was extremely vigorous.
This semester, however, she is enrolled in Makeup for Stage and Screen and Actor Auditioning Classes. The way the instructors take advantage of technology is amazing, she says. Live video chats and auditions that are posted to a discussion board for class feedback make all the difference. “You would think that these kinds of classes are better served in person,” explains Kelly. “I was very surprised at how easy it was to adapt such a "hands on field" like theatre into an online classroom setting.”
The online theatre program uses an interface that allows students to self-submit all their notes and assignments online. It includes video lectures and readings that are relevant and accessible. An important part of Regent’s online interface is the ability to interact with other students and Kelly soon learned that there was a real sense of community at the university that she really did not expect. She began to learn just as much her peers as she did from her instructors. In fact, many of the people in her classes that have been in the acting field for more than 20 years.
“I love knowing that my educational journey is not only advancing my career, but also enhancing me as an individual,” Kelly says. “I am continually growing in this industry as a professional, and as a human.”
In addition to giving her the invaluable opportunity to interact with people who are passionate about theatre from all over the county, Kelly says online education keeps her organized and diligent. She has learned not to “overbook” herself. “Knowing your limits and knowing when to say no to outside projects is important,” she says.
She really is not kidding when she talks about her planner. It is how she visualizes all that she needs to do in a week. Kelly explains that it helps her to see everything laid out and have a “map” planned out. “I realize not everyone operates this way,” she says. “But it's how I stay on top of things.”
Other things she has learned is to give herself extra time to finish tasks and time for “self-care”. Kelly believes that you're more productive as a person if you take care of yourself and she limits her stress by giving herself time to breathe.
“You can accomplish so much more if you're centered and focused,” she says. “If you don't allow yourself time (even 20 minutes) to regroup, de-stress, and go on to the next thing, you most likely won't really be giving it your all.”
What does Kelly do to relax? “I love to curl up with a good book or script, I love catching a movie, or catching up with friends, she says. “I also really love to travel (when time and budget) permits!”
At age 29, Kelly describes college as being initially a transitional period—she did not know what she wanted to do with her life. Eventually, she discovered the arts and graduated with a BA in Theatre and Speech Communications. After college, she decided to pursue her career and began working full-time.
Still, she knew that the pursuit of graduate education was “the next step" for her. Kelly explains that she wanted to get her master's but was unsure how to continue. In fact, she did a lot of research before she found Regent University. In her words, she decided on the college because the caliber of their online program is absolutely stellar.
Kelly fully intends to make her career and life in the field of theatre. She believes that higher education continually provides bigger and better opportunities.
“Down the road outside of acting, I see myself teaching higher level and collegiate students - perhaps as a professor someday,” she says. “That would not be possible without my online master's, and my online master's would not be possible without this scholarship!”