This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Samantha Paquette whose limitless academic potential is matched by her unbounded compassion for others. Her recent staring role in Footloose highlighted her beautiful singing voice and her strong acting talent. Samantha began participating in theatre at Prana summer camp when she was 4 or 5 and and has found a noticable difference to her happiness when she is on stage. When speaking about singing, a large smile comes across her face and she says, “chorus lifts me up.” From the moment she started performing she was able to bring the characters to life through song in a way that allowed her to connect the words with the underlying message and share her talent with the world. Whether it is performing for large audiences or at small parties for young children, she is at home in the world of music.
Combining her love of theatre with her love of working with young children, she has worked with a friend to create her own business called Starlight Kids Parties. What is impressive about her business model is that not only does she create princess themed entertainment to the amazement of young children, but she also incorporates charity into work by donating 10% of the proceeds to a charity chosen by the family who has hired her.
As Samantha thinks about her future she is looking to continue her love of working with young children by majoring in communication and psychology. She “wants to use psychology to make a difference, especially with kids.” Her goal is to “help foster the child’s light, not smother it.” It is clear that Samantha will make a large difference in the lives of so many children.
Q: It is so clear that you love theatre and, in particular, singing. What is it about being on stage that you love so much? How have singing and acting helped develop you as a person?
A: The stage has always been one of my happy places, for several reasons. First, performing is a culmination of so much hard work towards something you are proud to be a part. To get to share that with a supportive audience is so special. Second, singing, acting, becoming immersed in a character’s world is something I love and am fascinated by – I have been since I was little. When I was in elementary school, I was extremely shy, and performing allowed me to borrow the confidence of the character I was playing. Over time, I began to source confidence not from characters, but from myself. Getting that confidence from the roles I’ve played and the supportive casts I’ve been a part of, however, provided a foundation for my own confidence to grow from.
Q: During our conversation, I was impressed with your desire to give back to the community, especially by helping younger children. How did you develop the concept for the Braveheart club and what do you hope to accomplish through this process?
A: The idea for Braveheart came through connecting with younger kids. Whenever kids I know are upset about something, they normally only think about what is wrong in their immediate circumstances – there is very little understanding or perspective about what there is to be grateful for. I also wanted to help kids understand that they can make a difference at any age. Through working with high schoolers, I hope that they’ll understand both these things and really take them to heart. I hope they’ll see the difficult situations around them, understand all they have to be grateful for, and be empowered to help the people who have less than they do.
Q: When you think about your high school career, is there anything the school could have provided more of to support your interests or to help develop your passion?
A: I know a lot of teachers are beginning to implement ‘mixed’ classes, where two subjects are combined into one curriculum. I love that idea, and I think it would be even more supportive of students’ interests or passions if students were able to have some voice in what classes were created. If students were able to suggest topics for classes, there would be classes available to better meet their interests.
Q: What advice do you have for students who have yet to find their passion or find an activity that they love?
A: Give yourself permission to not know what you want to do for the rest of your life. I used to think I was going to major in Musical Theater because it was such a huge passion. I was sticking to that plan so tightly that I wasn’t able to see anything else. I didn’t want to go without a plan for the future. Once I did let go, however, I realized Musical Theater wasn’t what I would be happy doing as a career. Now, I plan to major in psychology and communications, but I have absolutely no clue where they will lead – and I’m fine with that. I’ve found that you discover your passions when you stop putting pressure on yourself to find them.