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Queens' Leading Lady

By: Kayla Pate 

Rachel Kolodski '14 was only five years old when her father lost his life in the line of duty. In 1998, National Park Ranger Joseph D. Kolodski was shot and killed after responding to a threat of a man with a gun on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As Rachel's family grieved his death, music became her outlet, and she started focusing on her dream of becoming a theater actor.

"You have to roll with the punches [in life] and be as ready as you can," Rachel said. "You gotta do what you gotta do - and do it with joy."

Her positive outlook and hard work eventually earned her the opportunity to sing at the world-famous Sydney Opera House as part of the World Voices Australia festival. She also assistant directed the play Very Still and Hard to See at the Carolina Actors Studio Theater in Charlotte.

Even though Rachel's long-term goal is to perform in Broadway musicals, she welcomed the chance to learn about what goes on behind the scenes in Very Still and Hard to See (as well as Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo). As assistant director and stage manager, Rachel was responsible for everything from lighting to makeup to casting. She learned about the position through her World of Work class at Queens.

"I knew that I would gain a new appreciation for the crews I worked with as an actor and that it would impact the way I act for the better," she said.

As luck would have it, Rachel missed the premiere of Very Still and Hard to See because she had to be in London to start a semester abroad in the United Kingdom. Although she wishes she could have been there to see her hard work pay off, she was ecstatic to learn that the show opened to a nearly packed house on January 18 and was called for two extra performances.

Rachel will head to Ireland for a summer internship in the theater when her semester in London is up. In addition to her own sense of determination, she credits Queens for bringing her one step closer to landing her dream career.

"This is what college is supposed to be about, I believe, the opportunity for trial and error and setting up the sketch for the rest of our lives," Rachel said.

"Queens is certainly growing and changing from the school I applied to in 2010, but it has also changed me for what I believe is the better."

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