KUWomenofDistinction

Jenny Curatola (Left)

Jenny Curatola (Left)

Honors, achievements, and special recognition:

  • National Merit Scholar
  • University Nominee for Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships
  • Member of KU Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa, & National Society for Collegiate Scholars
  • Class of 2013 Chancellor’s Scholar
  • Recipient of Undergraduate Research Award
  • Recipient of the School of the Arts Interdisciplinary Research Grant for honors thesis “One Wild and Precious Life”
  • Recipient of Theatre Department’s Kuhlke Humanitarian Award
  • Irene Ryan Nominee for the role of Mrs. Galy Gay in “Man Equals Man” (Spring 2010)

How I became interested in my area of study:

I’ve always had competing passions for the arts and international relations. As a freshman, I was disillusioned with politics and chose to major only in English and Theatre because I wanted to reach people through influential literature and performance, but over time I began to see how knowledge of political systems and an understanding of culture reinforce one another, hence the Global & International Studies major and my work in applied theatre.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:

Being recognized for the founding of JIST and my thesis project, the community-devised show “One Wild and Precious Life,” in the same year was really rewarding. The arts are so important to me because they can have such a huge influence on public opinion and provide people with an understanding of themselves and the world they live in, but it often feels like an uphill battle. To know that the community appreciates what JIST has done by producing innovative new work makes the struggle worth it.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

I can’t pick any one single role model because I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded by intelligent, inspiring women like professors Leslie Bennett, Cheryl Lester, Dale Urie, and Mechele Leon – all professors who have encouraged me through their example to be proud of my intelligence – Mary Klayder and Anne Wallen – KU advisers who are so wise and are great personal motivators – Katia Troisi, Cheryl Atkinson, and Heather Laird – all successful women I’ve had the privilege to know who exhibit such grace in their personal lives, power in their professional lives, and balance between the two – and my own mother, Deb Curatola, who gives so much to others and shows me how much women can contribute to their communities while still be excellent mothers.

When times get tough, something that helps me get through it:

I have an awesome support system in my family, friends, boyfriend, and campus advisers. They’re constantly reminding me to take it easy on myself.

An important life lesson I have learned:

Patience and forgiveness in working with others. I love collaborative projects because they say so much more than one person ever could, but they come with the risk of diffusing responsibility so much that you can’t always trust that everything will get done the way you want them to, and you have to accept that it isn’t your fault and the project is still fine. Being the kind of person who likes to be in control, I had a hard time accepting that. But one of my professors once said in a lecture, “Remember that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have,” and I always come back to that when I’m frustrated with how a group project is going. It helps with everything, though – not just collaborative projects, but interactions with others.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know…

I actually do have a sister just entering college and I want her to know she should never be afraid to try new things. College is a time to begin discovering what you’re passionate about. You never know what that might be until you try it. Also, she should know that she’s never alone. There are so many people in her family and on the college campus that there to support her.

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

An acting professor was once coaching me and another student through a lover’s fight scene, and he told us to “Keep the love in,” because the only reason to fight over anything is because you love the other person too much or you’re too passionate about what’s at stake to let it go. It’s a simple motto that I try to remember when I’m challenged by views that I disagree with. You have to know that all people want the same things (peace, security, understanding) and are fighting for what they believe is best. If we just keep the love in and listen to each other, we can make the world a better place.