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SMTD Launches “Alumni as Mentors” Resource


Students and recent graduates of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) now have a powerful new tool to help them as they launch their careers in the performing arts and academia: a directory of successful, talented, and experienced alumni to help them find their way. 

SMTD's Alumni Board of Governors has just unveiled a new Alumni as Mentors (AaM) web database that creates a network of influential mentors, in all disciplines, with whom new graduates can connect for career advice and guidance. The new resource builds upon the Alumni as Mentors series of master classes, performances, and lectures that SMTD presents each year. 

Although SMTD boasts a long tradition of alumni who provide support to one another as their careers develop, over the last year the Alumni Board has focused its efforts on formalizing ways to help students navigate both their professional and personal lives after graduation.

"Networking can be such an essential tool for young artists and professionals as they enter the job market and the SMTD community is a resource not to be overlooked," said Lizzie Leopold (BFA '05, dance), artistic director and choreographer of the Leopold Group, a Chicago-based modern dance company, and chair of the AaM committee on the Alumni Society Board of Governors. "Our hope is to make the Michigan family even stronger with the AaM website."

AaM will be an invaluable resource for professional development in the performing arts world. More than 65 STMD alumni have already signed on as mentors, representing a wide spectrum of disciplines including musical theatre, performing arts management, jazz, theatre & drama, dance, and music education. They have volunteered to share their insight and experience with SMTD students and will offer their expertise on auditions/interviews, casting directors, agents/managers, industry trends, housing, secondary jobs, advanced degrees, professional development, and networking within their particular field.

Students can access the mentor directory on the AaM website. All SMTD alumni and students are granted access to the website with their U-M identity (uniqname and password). Once logged in, students and graduates can search mentors by their location or discipline. Current locations include New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle, Philadelphia, and more.

There is no limit to how many students a mentor can take on or how many mentors a student contacts. One of the goals of AaM is to create an open conversation and sharing of resources between mentors and graduates.

"The AaM website is a resource that I wish existed when I graduated from college," said Leopold. "SMTD alums are always ready to help a fellow Wolverine and now there is an easy way to take advantage of these connections."

Alumni interested in learning more about becoming an AaM mentor, now or in the future, and students or recent graduates who would like more information about the program should contact Ellen Kettler at or 734.763.9769.



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November 2012
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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower