Some people are born with a drive to pursue a particular career, others choose to follow in their parents’ footsteps and just as many fall in love with an industry later in life that they never could have imagined as a child. For Evette Srouji, the latter is the case.
Becoming a teacher was Srouji’s initial plan. Theater wasn’t even on her radar until she began at Broomfield High School. Having an interest in makeup, she decided to help with stage hair and makeup for her school’s production of "Holmes for the Holidays” But then she started auditioning, landing her first acting role in "Heathers: The Musical” marking the beginning of her journey into the world of theater.
Srouji loved the behind-the-scenes work that went into a quality theatrical production. When it came time to look for colleges to apply to, she knew she still wanted to pursue teaching, but her interests had evolved into theater education.
Originally, Srouji was determined to go to a college outside of Colorado. Growing up in Broomfield, she was itching to leave her hometown. It wasn’t until her father informed her that the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) had an excellent Theatre Education program that she looked at UNC.
It didn’t take long for her to make her decision.
“UNC has one of the best theater programs in the country,” said Srouji. “I would rather do theater from my first day than wait until my junior year at other schools where you’d major in education with an emphasis in theater.”
Srouji is pursuing a double major in Theatre Education and Theatre Studies with a directing emphasis. She is on track to graduate this December. Srouji is making the most of her time at UNC. Intent on graduating without any regrets, she dives headfirst into everything she wants to do.
The can-do attitude that Srouji brought to UNC led her to everything from serving on boards to participating in student groups. One of the boards Srouji sat on is the Student Equity Advisory Board, established by UNC faculty during the Covid-19 pandemic to better represent and serve students of color.
Srouji also got involved with a student group dedicated to promoting diversity and equity on and off stage called Operation: Cheesecake. While working with them, she helped develop the Guest Artist Series, where black professionals working in the theater industry would host presentations to provide current students' insight about their career. Srouji points to this series as one of the things she’s most proud of from her time at UNC.
Srouji experienced another of her proudest moments this summer, as she was the first UNC student to be selected as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival theater management intern. The internship, which is funded through UNC’s Arts Entrepreneurship Center, provides interns with a stipend and housing while they help run the annual festival in Boulder.
"I'm really grateful that I get to be the first recipient,” said Srouji, “and being able to have this door open for my fellow theatre studies students.”
Experiencing everything that goes on behind the scenes to create a set, then run four different productions in a matter of weeks, has been eye-opening for Srouji.
“Luckily, I learned all the basics that I needed to know going into this internship in my Theatre Management course,” she said. “I can pinpoint what I’ve learned and how it was applied at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.”
The pride Srouji has in her connection to UNC and being a trailblazer for the Theatre department is unmistakable. The way she talks about the opportunities and experiences she has been fortunate to have could make even those with no connection to UNC feel proud.
“It’s huge that UNC is making connections with theaters across Colorado to give our students the best experience,” she laughs, “I say that like I'm not a student, but it's true.”
From start to finish, the entire experience has been something that Srouji has enjoyed. From seeing what it takes to help secure housing for employees to ensuring guests have a positive experience, it has been a summer she will never forget.
UNC is deeply committed to meeting students’ financial needs. In 2021-22, 98% of UNC’s undergraduate students received some type of grant or scholarship aid that does not need to be repaid.
Srouji received the following donor-funded scholarships and UNC institutional scholarships or other federal, state or grant aid.
UNC donor-funded scholarships:
· Becky Gilbert Little Theater of the Rockies
· David and Dawn Grapes School of Theatre Arts & Dance Director’s Award
· Tennessen Family Performing and Visual Arts Scholarship
Other institutional grants or aid:
· UNC D.I.R.E.C.T Scholarship
· Performing and Visual Arts Scholarship - Theatre
· Performing and Visual Arts – Talent Awards
· Northern Vision Award