When Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) student Tyler Goddard was a junior in high school, his world turned upside down. Just after his spring semester began, his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. He was forced to drop his AP classes, but out of that tragedy came his true calling.
Tyler was given two weeks off for bereavement, but he continued attending rehearsals for his high school’s performance of ‘Macbeth,’ the first production he’d ever been cast in. Spending so much time with his theater friends was therapeutic and helped him work through his grief.
“It also helped me realize my future was in the arts and not academics,” he said.
By his senior year at Verrado High School, he was completely involved in theater. After graduating from the Buckeye school in 2016, Tyler enrolled at EMCC where he immersed himself in the theater program both on and off stage, appearing in several productions and working part-time for Tim Butterfield, EMCC Coordinator of Fine Arts Facilities.
“I love it,” he said. “I love coming into work here.”
He does a little bit of everything and recently helped build the raked, or gently sloped, stage for the upcoming show “The Bald Soprano,” which runs Nov. 7-16.
“They’ve really given me a stellar environment to grow and learn,” Tyler said. “All the work I do is related to my field of study.”
But with only one full-time paycheck to support the entire household, Tyler has struggled, even taking a semester off to work and save money so that he could pay for the following semester’s tuition and books.
“My mom’s been telling me that I really need to apply myself and look for scholarships,” he said.
So that’s exactly what he did. Last year, Tyler applied for EMCC’s first-ever performing arts scholarship. The $2,000 scholarship was made possible through the college’s partnership with Southwest Ballet Theatre (SWBT). The mutually beneficial partnership gives SWBT a professional stage on which to perform and gives EMCC a portion of its ticket sales.
For the first few years of the partnership, EMCC used the money from the ticket sales to fund equipment and work-study students’ salaries, but as the relationship has blossomed, so has the revenue, allowing for an annual scholarship.
“The partnership was always designed to benefit students,” Butterfield said. “It’s given EMCC students the opportunity to attend all shows free of charge and provided our performing arts students with hands-on experience working side by side professionals. And now, we have an annual scholarship to award.”
The youngest of three siblings, all of whom have attended EMCC, Tyler is the first in his family to earn a scholarship.
“He really stood out because he had a good written application and a plan for what he wants to do with his education,” Butterfield said.
Tyler was surprised with the award at the final showing of SWBT’s performance of Coppélia last spring.
“When I was applying for it, I didn’t realize the entire $2,000 would go to one person,” Tyler said. “It’s helped tremendously. It paid for this entire semester and refunded last semester.”
Tyler plans to graduate with his Associate Degree in the spring of 2020 and already has a job lined up at Phoenix Theatre Co. He’ll be doing a lot of the same things he’s been doing at the PAC — building sets and working on the run crew, operating various technical aspects of the production such as scenery, special effects, and props.
“Before I came here, I was more unsure than I am now about my future,” Tyler said. “I came here to continue what I was doing in high school to see where it led me. Since being here, it’s just cemented that I want to stay in the arts.”
To learn more about EMCC’s Performing Arts & Theatre program, go to https://www.estrellamountain.edu/programs/performing-arts-theatre.