Pierce College student Amy Parkhurst is jam-packed with classes, work, transfer preparation and other obligations, but she makes an effort to take time to build on her talents, particularly acting.
“I enjoy being on stage, it’s as simple as that,” Parkhurst said. “You work really hard with people for months and performing on stage is the reward for all your hard work.”
Parkhurst has been in five plays, including the musical King of the Jungle in kindergarten. She said it was this play that kindled her love for acting.
The latest play she participated in, Bye Bye Birdie, is a 1960s musical that was inspired by Elvis Presley. Parkhurst played the role of Kim MacAfee, a teenage girl who is the biggest fan of Conrad Birdie, the equivalent of a modern day Justin Bieber. Birdie stages his last gig at her hometown before he’s drafted into the army, resulting in her having to choose between her boyfriend and major idol.
“The curtain call on closing night was incredible,” Parkhurst said. “We had a standing ovation, it was magical.”
On closing night, she and the other actors were permitted to deviate from the script. Parkhurst made a point to exaggerate her reactions, such as crying, to an unusual and comical level. One of her fellow actors changed an entire scene and shot Birdie with a pea shooter, which couldn’t be found anywhere in the script.
“It was hilarious,” Parkhurst said. “We just went out and had a great time, and the audience noticed. It always makes a difference when those on stage are just as entertained as the people watching, which happens when you perform something for the first time, impromptu.”
Besides that moment, Parkhurst highlighted the other actors as one of the reasons she’s involved in plays.
“You rely on each other on stage,” she said. “If they don’t have your back, you’ll look like a fool up there. You have to build trust. In the end, we always end up as a sort of family.”
Outside theater, Parkhurst carries a similar outlook. She highly values humanity and admires the people around her, as well as the wide assortment of talents in Pierce alone. She said that is one of the reasons she enjoys the Pierce Allies program.
Currently, Parkhurst serves as a Pierce Ally, a student leader on campus. She mentors students on a regular basis and works to involve more students in programs such as student success workshops and service learning projects.
She will graduate from Pierce at the end of this quarter and transfer to Northwest University in the fall with her associate’s degree. Her next step is to pursue a nursing degree.
Parkhurst was inspired in fifth grade when her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She traveled with her grandmother to the many doctor appointments and treatments. In this process, she observed the nurses and their interactions with her grandmother.
“I saw how the nurses were so nice to her and how it positively affected her, and I thought, ‘I could be that nurse,’” Parkhurst said.
Although Parkhurst most likely will be unable to use her acting talents within her chosen field, the trust and love she formed on stage with the other actors is a feeling she wishes to instill in those she helps as a nurse.
“As a performer, you have to love it to do well,” she said. “It’s the same with nursing.”
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