Associate Professor of Theatre Heather May was recently awarded a 2019 Lori Ann Schwab ’95 Alumni Grant from her alma mater, Grinnell College, in honor of her work with students from rural communities.
May and Mosaic NY, a theatre company she founded at HWS, have regularly worked with Rural and Migrant Ministry’s Justice Organization of Youth, a group of high school students from diverse backgrounds who share an interest in theatre and a desire to make positive change in their communities. JOY creates plays, hosts film screenings and fundraisers, and organizes campus visits to regional institutions of higher education, including HWS, to learn about the college application process.
In Grinnell’s announcement this month, May said that “one of the things that was most exciting to me about JOY was that the impetus for the work comes from the students themselves. The students were concerned with a number of pressing issues in their community and they recognized that they could use the platform of theatre to build awareness and engagement in these issues.”
The grant recognizes the ongoing community service of Grinnell graduates who were at the College with Schwab, whose life was cut short by a sudden illness while she was studying in London in 1994. The grant provides stipends to support specific projects or fulfill the needs of nonprofit service organizations or public schools with which recipients are significantly involved.
May will donate the funds to JOY “to help support the creation of a logo, purchase of t-shirts with said logo, and some travel to performances or workshops,” she says. “I worked with Gabriela Quintanilla, JOY Coordinator, to come up with the things that would make significant difference but are unable to be prioritized in regular budgeting.”
A member of the HWS faculty since 2013, May is the founder and artistic director of Mosaic NY. May and the company of student actors work to create performances that celebrate diversity, provoke dialogue, develop community and encourage the active pursuit of social justice.