Maggie Keenan-Bolger Graduates and Reflects on Being a Point Scholar
Maggie Keenan-Bolger graduated in December from Goddard College with a M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts. Now one of Point’s newest alumni, Maggie reflects on her time as a Point Scholar.
What were some of the highlights/favorite moments from your time as a Point Scholar?
There are so many! The first memory that comes to mind was the first Point Honors event I attended. At one point, the host asked all the Point scholars to stand and everyone in the room applauded us. Particularly because so many of us came from places where being LGBT was so frequently met with rejection or shame, I can’t quite describe the feeling that comes from a huge room of people essentially saying we support you, we recognize you and we think who you are and what you’re doing is important.
What are you personally going to be taking away from your Point experience?
I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned as a result of being involved in the Point Foundation is that being an independent person doesn’t also mean having to be alone. I think growing up queer and other life circumstances led me to believe that I had to always be able to fend for myself because I couldn’t rely on anyone else to make things happen for me. While I still take pride in being strong and independent, my mentors, the staff, and Point in general taught me that yes, independence is important, but just because you CAN do things on your own doesn’t mean you HAVE to do things on your own. Point made my time at school so much more do-able. Not only was I able to quit a number of soul-sucking jobs, I found some truly selfless people who were always ready and willing to offer support. I was asked at an event if I think I would be where I was today if it hadn’t been for Point. And I think that yes, I probably would have gotten here eventually, but Point has acted like a ‘fast forward button.’ Because I didn’t have to be so bogged down in finances or networking or doing everything myself, I was able to really focus, not just on me, but on making sure the work I was doing was as effective in generating social change as it could be. I was a happier, more fulfilled person because of Point and I was able (and will be able) to pass that on to so many more people as a result.
What was your favorite experience with your Community Service Project (CSP)?
This past year for my CSP I co-led a program called Bridging the Gap which brought LGBT youth (ages 18-25) together with LGBT older adults (60-88) to create theatre. Being able to meet so many older LGBT people as a result of Point has had a huge impact on me in terms of how I view my future and community. Through Bridging the Gap, I felt like I was able to offer a similar experience to the youth involved as well as the older adults who really appreciated getting to know a younger generation of LGBT people. At the talkback following our final performances, one of the youth said that as a result of the project, he could now see himself as an older adult in the people he’d met. He had something to aspire to. The older adults also felt their self-images and expectations change because of the project. In a post-show evaluation, one of our participants said, “I feel that they did not see me as a cranky old lady, but as a fun, eccentric person.” The transformation and expansion of ideas, expectations and opinions is my ultimate goal in the work I do. Seeing the results in such a concrete way was hugely rewarding.
What was your favorite experience with your mentor?
Upon my acceptance into my MFA program, my mentor and her partner invited me and six of my close friends to their apartment to celebrate. My mentor made it clear that my achievements were worth celebrating and that night of laughter, food and chatter was one of the happiest of my life.
What advice would you give a Point applicant?
Figure out how the work you do has a greater impact on the world around you. Know that you’re applying for a scholarship, yes, but you’re also applying for the opportunity to be a part of a beautiful community. And be prepared to meet some people who are going to knock your socks off.
What are your future plans?
My co-collaborator and I have been offered a residency to re-vamp our show, The Birds and the Bees: Unabridged (my CSP for 2013) into a tour-able format. The original production was created by a cast of 19 women and trans people around the theme of female sexuality. With this residency, we’re hoping to bring the show on the road to colleges and theaters across the country. Further down the line, I’d love to get a professorship in the field of Applied Theatre where I can teach others to use theatre as a tool for social change. Ultimately, I will continue to use theatre as a vessel to discuss topics and issues that are often overlooked or silenced in our day-to-day lives. By doing so, I hope to challenge, expand and potentially transform the lives of the people I work with as well as audience members everywhere.