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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

From Stage to Screen: Arts graduates script their own futures

Arts majors from the Class of 2024 are pursuing a wide array of career paths, from producing films and working in theater to exploring art therapy and tech startups.


This article is featured in the 2024 Commencement & Reunions special issue.

Members of the Class of 2024 studying the arts will forge diverse paths after graduation. From pursuing their artistic fields professionally to exploring the arts in their own time, this year’s graduating seniors encapsulate the wide array of post-graduate paths that arts majors can follow. 

Senior arts majors come from a variety of backgrounds and interests. Some of them, such as music and English double major Valeria Pereira Quintero ’24, said they knew they wanted to study the arts before they matriculated. 

“I’d done choir my entire life, and I wanted to do more of the producing side of things,” Pereira Quintero said. “I’m really interested in the cadence of spoken word … and I wanted to be an English major to do the lyrics side of stuff.”

Emma Johnson ’24, a quantitative social science and theater double major, said one of the primary reasons she chose Dartmouth was because she knew she wanted to study both the arts and STEM in college. 

“There were a lot of schools [where] I had to pick one or the other or find somewhere else to go, so it took me a while to find a school that would let me study what I wanted to study, and I found that in Dartmouth,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she had been passionate about theater long before coming to Dartmouth. In fifth grade, she said her mother encouraged her to audition for “The Wizard of Oz” with the Omaha Community Playhouse in Omaha, Neb. Johnson said she performed in 30 shows of Oz over the course of six weeks. 

“I fell in love, and from there, it was just show after show after show,” she said.

Others discovered their artistic passions during their time at Dartmouth. CJ Henrich ’24 said he had an inclination that he would be a film and media studies major coming into Dartmouth. He said he ended up taking on a second major in music after discovering his passion for the field in introductory music courses. He first received credit for independent music lessons, before deciding to continue his musical studies after discovering the London Foreign Study Program for music — in which he later participated.

Julia Lee ’24 said she had envisioned following the pre-medical track before arriving on campus for her freshman year in the fall of 2020.  She ultimately decided to double major in psychology and studio art with a minor in music after moving away from the pre-med track. 

“[Pre-med] totally did not work after freshman fall … so I decided to take [Drawing 1] during COVID because I was at home, and I wanted to have fun classes,” she said. “After that class, I was hooked, and I didn’t even take art classes in high school, so it was a surprising path for me.”

Samuel Bonasso ’24, who said he originally intended to be a mathematical data science and film double major, turned the film major into a minor when he discovered he had taken enough classes for it. He explained that the film department emphasizes theory but does not provide much opportunity for production, in which he was hoping to get involved.

Now that the Class of 2024’s arts majors are graduating, artistic passion is taking them to a variety of locations. In 2021, during his freshman year, Bonasso said he won the Alexander Laing Memorial Award for screenwriting at Dartmouth for a short film. Next year, he will remain in Hanover and continue working on films, including the one from his freshman year — in hopes of ultimately developing a portfolio and entering the film industry in California. While in Hanover, he also plans to work a remote job, potentially in film-related data science.

“I’m going to be in the [Hanover] area … working on a movie with my a cappella group,” Bonasso said. “I figured I wouldn’t have a better supply of actors anywhere [other] than Hanover. I’ve made a handful of short films, so I wanted to make something that was more ambitious.”

Johnson said she is also remaining in Hanover after graduation. She plans to work at FreshAir Sensor, a technology company based 10 minutes south of campus — where she interned last summer and has continued to work throughout the year. She said the flexibility of her hours with FreshAir allows her to continue being involved with theater. 

“I’m going to be staying in the area, doing some data analysis [and] … software work for this tech startup,” Johnson said. “I’ll still … have the flexibility in my schedule to take up paid acting gigs, paid directing gigs and to continue taking classes with the [New England Center for Circus Arts] because they have performance opportunities as well.” 

Lee said she plans to stay even closer to campus after graduation, serving as an intern for the Studio Art department next year before hopefully pursuing a Master of Fine Arts. She said she is also interested in exploring art therapy and music therapy, combining her psychology major, studio art major and music minor in one profession. 

“With the studio art department, it’s really easy for you to get close with your [professors], so I’ve been getting a lot of guidance from my studio art [professors],” Lee said. “It’s really easy to talk to them about future plans, and they’re really encouraging [me to pursue studio art].”

Others plan to pursue graduate studies immediately after graduation. Henrich said he will be attending the University of Edinburgh to pursue a Master of Science in film exhibition and curation. He said his job as a projectionist for the Hopkins Center for the Arts sparked his initial interest in film exhibition. He hopes to make a sustainable living in the film industry while also being able to create his own films independently.

“I really enjoyed the process, working as a projectionist, so I’m just continuing that,” Henrich said.

Pereira Quintero said she applied to graduate schools this year in the United Kingdom. There, she hopes to combine her English and music majors by exploring film scoring before hopefully selling a script she has been working on since her sophomore fall. As the Development Fellow for the Hop — where she works in event planning and alumni relations — Pereira Quintero said she has gained insight into the entertainment industry. She emphasized the importance of the Dartmouth alumni network in building her confidence in her ability to create a sustainable career in the arts after graduation. 

“You can go into the entertainment industry, and you don’t really need the degree, and there are incredible filmmakers that don’t have a degree, [but Dartmouth] …gave me a bigger network,” she said. “I just ask [alumni] for insight on the industry, and I have a 100% success rate, and I email a lot of people.”

Pereira Quintero also said she has used Dartmouth funding for art and research and encouraged other arts majors at Dartmouth to do so as well.

“There are so many pockets in Dartmouth to get money and have your research be fully funded — the Arts Innovation Grant, the Leslie Center for the Humanities,” she said. “Get funding for your art.”

This year’s graduating arts majors remind Dartmouth students that there are many paths forward related to the arts. Their journeys exemplify the diverse opportunities available, showcasing the potential for varied and impactful artistic careers.