Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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Five months after graduating from Ithaca, Tom Healy was working with the search and rescue team in California’s Yosemite National Park when he got a call that a woman had fallen and fractured her leg on Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s iconic peaks.
When Tom and his team partner reached the woman, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary rescue. “She needed to be medevaced off the top,” he recalls. “And a storm was coming in, and we were in a very bad place.”
An avid hiker and rock climber, Tom chose Ithaca because it offered a major—outdoor adventure leadership—that could prepare him for situations like this, blending theory with wilderness immersion so that he could put classroom learning into practice.
“You learn that the consequences of your decisions are very important,” he says. “It definitely gives you more tools in your bag for life.”
The storm hit so close that Tom’s partner felt electric shocks through the metal frame of his backpack, and another hiker’s hair stood on end. “What I learned in my classes at Ithaca is to remain calm,” Tom says. “You have to have the coolest head in the group.”
As the weather grew increasingly violent, Tom helped the woman safely aboard the rescue helicopter and then led the other hikers to safety as lightning struck around them. “If we hadn’t gone up there and gotten her off the mountain,” he says, “she definitely would have died.”
Tom got a letter from the National Park Service commending him on his bravery and a heartfelt thank-you from the woman whose life he saved. “The letter of thanks I received from the injured hiker was worth all the effort,” he says.
Now Tom is studying in an advanced paramedics program so that he can return to Yosemite as a full-time employee. “Ithaca College made me ready to adapt to any situation.”
>> More on this story: "Alum's Bravery Earns Notice" - Fuse
Big decisions often have unexpected benefits. When Johanna Pan left her native Singapore to attend Ithaca College for theatrical production arts, a key factor in her decision to come to IC was the financial aid she was able to secure. Once here, she discovered she was enrolled in one of the most respected programs in the country.
“I like to call Ithaca a lucky accident because I didn’t realize how good the program was before I got here. And for that I’m very grateful,” she says.
In the theatrical design concentration, Johanna applied classroom lessons in costume and scenic design to Ithaca College Theatre’s yearly productions. As a senior, she was the costume designer for two period pieces: Translations, set in 1830s Ireland, and An Enemy of the People, in 1880s Norway.
Johanna researched the kinds of fabrics that were made at the time, how clothing was layered, and even the way seasons and climate in those locations dictated wardrobe choices. By understanding these factors, she and the production staff could apply them to their portrayals on the modern stage.
"What a lot of people don't realize about theatre design is that there are certain rules we create as a team. What does a short skirt mean as opposed to a long skirt? What are the colors of the world? What does this color mean to everyone across the board, and how are we going to use that to portray something? The audience may not notice them consciously, but the picture as a whole and what it presents is noticeable.”
Johanna spent a semester at the Ithaca College London Center, where she attended over 50 performances—from the West End to small pubs—for class and her own enjoyment.
“Seeing so much theatre in a country that loves theatre so much helps you understand why we do what we do. You are reminded of the magic when you’re not working on a show because you’re not involved and can just appreciate someone else's work.”
Johanna took on several internships and jobs after graduation, including one with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical that had her traversing New York City’s clothing and fabric stores. The show is scheduled to open on Broadway in December 2013. She also plans to return to Singapore to fulfill a commitment she made to the Singaporean theatre industry when she received a scholarship from the Singapore National Arts Council. She then plans to head back to New York City to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts and rejoin the theatre scene.
“I want to live in New York City. I love the sheer amount of musicals that happen there and the sheer amount of theatre.”
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