by Corey Dorris, 3rd-year actor
Before I came to Juilliard I heard so many things about the school. Many of them were myths and rumors, but many of them were true and made up what contributes to the school’s reputation. I heard that it’s really tough with a really busy schedule. I heard that it’s really hard to get into. I heard that the students are all great and talented and competitive. All of this is true. But what I didn’t hear about (and was genuinely surprised by) was the amazing student life. There are departments, programs, and staff here solely for the purpose of the student life outside of classes. And they help create a community and an actual college experience that are often overlooked when people talk Juilliard’s great reputation.
One department that probably over half the student body participates in is Educational Outreach. They have a ton of programs, from teaching to performing, that encourage students to participate and engage with New York City. Some students teach to middle schoolers on Saturday mornings. Some students take summer trips to Detroit and Utah to teach master classes or do community service. One thing I’ve done over the last two years is participate in the Gluck Community Service Fellowship. It’s a program for students to form performance groups and perform all over the city in places such as nursing homes, hospitals, and teen shelters. Sometimes after the performance, we stay to talk with the audience members and they tell us about a favorite song, or a grandchild who sings and dances, or things they do in the arts. One time a lady came up to us crying because we had performed a song from her favorite musical.
Another program I’ve participated in is The New Orleans Project, which is led by the Office of Student Affairs. Every year, a group of 20-30 students raise money to go to New Orleans over Spring Break and teach master classes, help build houses with Habitat for Humanity, and teach creative arts classes to students at the local YMCA. The program started 7 years ago because a Juilliard dancer wanted to help her hometown, New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, Juilliard has been back to New Orleans every year! I went two years in a row and was surprised at how many of the students from the YMCA remembered my name! Even though we were only there for one week, it proved that we really do make a difference, and that every bit helps. Evey year we hear from the person who runs our Habitat for Humanity site that we put them ahead of schedule on the house we help to build!
Not only are Gluck and The New Orleans Project outreach opportunities that help Juilliard give back to the community, but they help make a community at Juilliard. I’ve met some of my best friends through them! My performance group for Gluck hangs out before and after our performances; and through all the meetings and preparations for the trip, I met some of my best friends during The New Orleans Project that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet. Juilliard has a reputation because of all the things you hear about it: the classes, the rehearsal schedule, the competitiveness. But what I never heard about was its amazing community and student life. Those are qualities that should definitely make students want to come and study here!