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Mentors in sociology, theatre, help senior choose career path

Arts Mar 8, 2024
A woman poses by a window

KOKOMO, Ind. — Dezi Dagey enrolled at Indiana University Kokomo with an idea of what she wanted to do, and a major selected.

Shortly after her classes began, she knew her major wasn’t for her, but she couldn’t decide what her next step was.

An email from one of her professors helped her choose a new direction in sociology, which she enjoys for the empathy it teaches, and the opportunity to see the world through multiple perspectives.

“I was taking a sociology class with Dr. Niki Weller (professor of sociology), and she reached out,” she said. “She emailed me and said, ‘You’re doing so well in this class, I think you should consider a major or minor in sociology. She helped me realize how much I love sociology. I’m thankful she pointed it out to me so I could earn a degree in something I’m passionate about.”

Dagey, a Westfield High School graduate who now lives in Tipton, is considering a career in counseling after she graduates in May. She also will complete a minor in theatre, which has been an important part of her IU Kokomo experience.

“Theatre gave me a community I was part of, where I felt like everyone cared about me,” she said. “That group is so tight knit. It also allowed me to get close to some professors who have helped me grow a lot, both in theatre and in life.”

Working with Dennis Henry, who was a visiting lecturer in theatre, taught her technical skills in acting, which became life lessons.

“He taught me how to control my body on stage, and how to control my voice,” she said. “Then that seeped into real life, that I didn’t have to stress as much. He helped me see real life as it was.”

Wendy Grice, director of music, helped her become a better singer, and Joann Kaiser, teaching professor in communication arts, has served as a mentor.

“She’s just been there for me when I needed to talk about something and helped me get a job with a theatre company,” Dagey said. “She’s been a really big impact just in general for me.”

Dagey also has worked as an assistant to Stephanie Medley-Rath, associate professor of sociology, with the Teaching Resources and Innovation Library for Sociology (TRAILS), part of the American Sociological Association.

She’s enjoyed participating in theatre productions, with her role in The Laramie Project standing out as her favorite. The play explores the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard, an LGBTQ+ student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten to death in 1998.The incident led to federal legislation against hate crimes.

“That rehearsal process involved a lot of tears,” she said. “It was a hard play to go through. I was happy with how the production came out in the end.”

The current production of Oklahoma, set to run April 12-14, is quickly becoming a favorite, she added. Dagey is the lead dancer for the musical.

In addition to building community in theatre, she’s also made friends through the Kokomo Experience and You, or KEY, program. She explored Walt Disney World resort through a sociologist’s eyes and attended a production of The Addams Family at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.

“I got to meet people I don’t think I would have been able to get close to in a class setting,” she said. “Since Disney, I’ve had classes with them, and we hang out and talk and are friends to this day.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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Danielle Rush, communications specialist

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