From UMB to the Big Apple: Alumna Tells of Life After College

MiMi Yeh

Among the many attendees who came to see the “Vagina Monologues” was UMB alumna Elizabeth Hanley, herself a former participant in Eve Ensler’s engaging social shake up. Since graduating from UMass Boston, Hanley has taken her degree in Theatre Arts and moved on to work as the festival coordinator at the Nantucket Film Festival. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is getting to know the city by freelancing as a personal assistant where she books bands, arranges for caterers, and generally “waits around for things to go wrong.”

Hanley feels lucky in having a job straight out of college. “I knew I had a job even before the fall semester started. In this job market, that’s unheard of.” She attributes her success to the internship she managed to obtain through the Theatre Arts Program, as well as being able to juggle her workload, something she says she learned at UMB.

“Being able to multitask,” according to Hanley, is what made her a success. UMB prepared her for that because of the unusual nature of the commuter campus. “UMass is incredibly competitive because everyone is doing a million things. Some people have children, a full time job.” Because she came into the Nantucket internship focused and capable, she was able to land a job.

However, when she isn’t wearing her festival coordinator hat, she runs around New York City acting as a production assistant. “I was a production assistant at a funeral my first week in New York. We had to worry about paparazzi crashing the funeral. Michelle from Destiny’s Child sang “Amazing Grace.” It’s the most bizarre thing I was involved with.”

Hanley has no plans to go to graduate school straight away. “I’m definitely going to take some time off. It took me five-and-a-half years to graduate college. I’m working in film and definitely want to continue on this path and see what I want to do. I love theatre it’s where my passion is.”

Before she found theatre, Hanley was planning on a future based a sociology major. Talked into taking a theatre course, she fell in love and abandoned sociology in favor of stage management, her true interest. “Before I did theatre I was planning on going to law school.” Yet, everything seems to be going according to plan, Hanley feels, as she had decided to take a year away from stage management to explore other opportunities.

“I just need to figure out what I’m going to do. I’m just sort of reeling from having just finished being an undergrad.”

Right now, Hanley is just getting to know her new home. After that, Hanley thinks she might head out to L.A. “There’s not enough entertainment work around Boston for me. I see myself being able to get to that level a lot faster in New York or L.A.” For now though, life is pretty interesting. “Next month I’m doing a fashion show involving kilts.”

The recent integration of theatre, music, and dance at UMass Boston into the Performing Arts Department to her, “makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of things we could learn from one another. It was kind of a bummer that they hadn’t been working together more.”

When asked what advice she would give to fellow graduating theatre folk, she said, “UMass theatre isn’t the real world. It’s great. It’s a great department, but the world out there is a lot bigger and meaner. I’ve only been out of school for two months.” In other words, enjoy your undergraduate years while you can.