Alumni Spotlight: Ellissa Kiowski

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The common stereotype for college graduates is that after they leave school, they have a large amount of student debt, cannot acquire a job and generally don’t know what to do with the rest of their lives. Not so for Ellissa Kiowski who graduated in 2021 with an English major and a drama concentration. Currently, she is completing the 4+1 program for her master’s degree in English at the University of Dallas and working a full-time wealth management job at Whiterock Wealth.

 “I would really love to work on the art scene around Dallas in some form or fashion Whether that’s museums, the opera, or a theater,” Kiowski remarked. However, she also noted that she may opt for a Ph.D. should the opportunity present itself.

And she certainly is on track to meet her goals. But enough about her future, how was her life at UD and what prepared her to be as successful as she currently is right now?

While at UD, Kiowski took many writing and English classes, which, while some will claim only assist in academia, also look spectacular on resumes and set one apart from the rabble. Kiowski, through these classes, has developed her writing skills immensely.

One does not just walk into being a good writer. One must have a passion for writing, a drive, which Kiowski demonstrated that she has time and again. 

“Writing is all about discovery,” she said, “and I found that the papers I liked the most were the ones where I had to focus on a piece of art that I liked, and then I learned to like it even more at the end.” 

 The English degree at UD is no joke, and having not only graduated but enjoyed her time in the English department is an accomplishment to which few can lay claim.

Of course, one cannot go through four years of UD without some unique experiences. For example, during one of her final semesters as an undergraduate, on her birthday, she half-jokingly requested that Dr. Andrew Osborn, an associate professor of English, teach the class outside. To her and everyone else’s surprise, the stoic Osborn actually took them out and had one of the best classes of her semester. Such consideration, along with countless other similar experiences, is unique to the UD experience.

 “Those experiences where things had every right to be mundane and they turned out to be something better; those were my favorite things,” Kiowski imparted.

Of course, even the most passionate writers experience burnout. And high-difficulty classes like J-Po, or the Junior Poet Project, and others would buy every proverbial seat in even the most studious student’s brain. 

 “Suddenly, it was all I was doing all the time,” Kiowski said.

 So how, then, did Kiowski excel in all her English classes even with this mountain of challenging work?

The cure lies in the drama department. Through the medium of acting, Kiowski could refocus herself, join a great community of actors and have fun.

“When I got more involved in drama, I would say the community I had in the drama department was so vital to me,” Kiowski explained.

The experience working in the drama department was invaluable, as it gave not only friends, but a new perspective on art.

“When everyone is chasing after one vision, it’s wonderful to watch,” Kiowski said.  “What’s funny about acting is that you need somebody else’s art to make your own.”

 Such introspection is naturally helpful for every aspect of life, not only in writing.  

Throughout her time participating in the drama department, she was cast in multiple plays and even managed light design for a senior studio in her final semester.

Kiowski reflected on her overall experience at UD.

 “I don’t think I would have thrived nearly as much at a state school where I would have just been a number,” she revealed.

Thus, UD formed her into an excellent writer with its academic difficulty, unique community and fascinating culture. The UD experience shaped her as nothing else could. Now that she is doing her 4+1 and ascending to the next level of academic existence, with her goal being excellence at the top of academia or drama, the sky’s the limit for Kiowski.

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