From MPH to Center Stage

By Gavin Cardamone
Spring 2017

Swimm alum
(Photo courtesy of Swimm)

Katie Swimm, Class of 2002

Education: B.F.A. in Theatre Studies, B.A. in English from Niagara University (2006); M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University (2012); currently Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at Tufts University. She is currently writing her dissertation, “Theatre of the Mind: Towards A Dialogue between Mental Health and Theatrical Practice in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” Her work examines performances of madness in the broader context of nineteenth-century medical discourse. She was a fellow at the Tufts Graduate Institute for Teaching Graduate Assistant at Tufts University.

Career: Swimm works as a Graduate Writing and Public Speaking consultant for the Academic Resource Center at Tufts. She has taught courses in Acting at Tufts and Public Speaking at Dean College. She teaches The History of Mental Illness on Stage and Screen at the Tufts Experimental College and a course in Performance Studies at Dean College. She works as a Graduate Writing and Public Speaking consultant for the Academic Resource Center and was a fellow at the Tufts Graduate Institute for Teaching in 2015. Katie also works as an actor and director in the Boston area.

Resides In: Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Q: What are your job responsibilities?

A: Teaching about theater and performance in 2017 means a lot of different things. My career has a lot of different components to it, which I like. I teach theater and performance history, and I get to educate young college students about how our world is represented on stages and in films. I do a lot of talking and thinking about how culture represents society, which is sometimes positive and sometimes needs to be questioned. When I’m not teaching, I also coach students on their writing and public speaking, helping them gain confidence around those skills.

Q: What is the hardest part about your job?

A: The hardest (but best) part of my job is making sure all of my students get the individual attention they need to be the best they can be.

Q: To what do you attribute your success?

A: I attribute my success to all the great teachers I’ve had in all the years I’ve been in school. That includes teachers at MPH!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: I’m most proud of moments when I see students who have been struggling with something succeed because of work we’ve done in my classroom or in my rehearsals.

Q: What did you want to be when you were in high school?

A: When I was in high school, I really wanted to be a professional actor, and teachers like Laura Jordan, Annmarie Gregory, Michele Koziara, Mike Copps, Ted Curtis, Delia Temes and Diane Cook all helped me pursue those dreams. But they also made me really curious about other things, too — literature, history, great books, and good writing. They encouraged me to learn a lot about many different things and reminded me that there wasn’t a “right” path to take. Because of that, while I still perform, I do a lot of other fun things too.

Q: Have you seen yourself change a lot since then?

A: That’s hard to say, because it’s been a long time! I imagine I’ve changed a lot — living in three different major cities, having a lot of different jobs, and completing three college degrees does that to you — but I still am pretty curious and love learning and doing new things.

Q: How did MPH contribute to your success?

A: For this, I’ll refer you to my previous answer: I attribute my success to [MPH teachers who] helped me pursue [my] dreams.

Q: What advice do you have for MPH students?

A: Don’t limit yourself to being JUST ONE thing or having JUST ONE career. Explore as many different avenues as you can. My life has taken some unexpected paths, and I’m better for it, so don’t be afraid of learning something new.