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CSB alumnae reflect on life in three acts

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March 26, 2014

By Molly Reger '14

Left to right: Amelia Cheever, Kathy Hendrickson and Irma Mayorga.

An unlikely trio reunited to talk about their college experiences, their professional lives and their enduring friendship forged at CSB.

As part of the CSB centennial celebration, the theater department brought together CSB alumnae Amelia Cheever, Kathy Hendrickson and Irma Mayorga for a panel discussion on March 20.

Cheever, CSB/SJU assistant adjunct professor of theater and 1987 graduate, is sharing her experience and talents with CSB/SJU students. Hendrickson, a visiting artist at CSB/SJU this semester and 1987 graduate, is the co-founder and artistic director of Jersey City's Children's Theater. Mayorga, a Chicana scholar/artist in theater and 1988 graduate, is an assistant professor of theater at Dartmouth College.

Act I: The (not so) Long Ago Past

The women came to CSB from vastly different walks of life. Hendrickson, a native of San Diego, Calif., was offered a full ride cheerleading scholarship to Iowa State but chose CSB because it felt right. Cheever, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., was sold on CSB when she entered CSB's Benedicta Arts Center (BAC). Mayorga, a native of San Antonio, Texas, found CSB at a college fair in her hometown.

Cheever met Hendrickson on their first day of school at CSB in the Gorecki Family Theater. Mayorga first encountered Hendrickson at a homecoming talent show in Guild Hall. Hendrickson was dressed as Madonna and lip synched the lyrics to "Like a Virgin."

"I thought to myself, 'Who does this girl think she is,'" Mayorga said.

Mayorga met Cheever when she attended the school's production of "West Side Story," and Cheever was in the show.

Both Cheever and Mayorga graduated from CSB with a B.A. in theater, and Hendrickson graduated CSB with a B.A. in classics.

Act II: The Recent Past

After graduation the trio pursued various career paths and followed different ambitions.

Hendrickson reflected on her career as an actress and educator.

"After graduation I began to audition for productions, and I continued to receive offers. It surprised me and made me realize I guess I can do this," Hendrickson said.

In 2011 Hendrickson co-founded Jersey City's Children's Theater and claims to have started the theater for her 6-year-old son, Dashiell.

"Unfortunately he doesn't like theater very much but he does teach his friends how to be a good audience member," Hendrickson said. "All I can say is that he's a cooler person than I am."

Cheever is mother to 8-year-old daughter named Fiona. When Cheever first became a mother she felt that it was difficult to maintain her career as a costume designer and raise a child simultaneously. She says that her daughter is now a budding actress who knows all the words to the musical "Annie."  

Act III: Across Continents and Decades

Although nearly 26 years have passed since the women attended CSB their friendship remains stronger than ever.

"We are a group of women who have stuck together over time. We have shared a lifetime of love," Mayorga said.

"I have always said that Amelia is my heart and Irma is my soul," Hendrickson said.

"When we met one another it was like signed, sealed, delivered for me," Cheever said. "These women bring the fun and joy."

Mayorga admitted that she sometimes tends to lose touch but Cheever and Henrickson never let her drift very far.

"You two never let me disappear. You never let me go. I realized that I need both of you," Mayorga said. "There is a shorthand between us. These women know me and I feel so much comfort in not having to explain myself."

Reflecting on their friendship and the years spent at CSB Mayorga offered advice to current students.

"I encourage students to love hard and fast here in college," Mayorga said. "Love one another in all of your rawness."