Nick Adrian, Staff Writer
JSU held another session of Tuesday Talks meeting on November 14, this time catering to the School of Arts and Humanities. Students who were interested in Drama, English, or Art were invited to come out and learn what it takes to be successful in those fields. The speakers at the panel were made up of three JSU alumni ready to give their stories and talk about where they are in the field today.
The panelists were as follows: Mrs. Laura Wheale, a 2010 graduate with a B.A. in Drama who is the founder and owner of Wheale Law Group in Atlanta and an experienced actress, having appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Sully and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 2016; Mrs. Gena Christopher, a 1979 graduate with a B.A. in English who is now the Director of Faculty Commons at JSU and Mr. Mark du Pont, a 2013 graduate with a B.A. in Photography who is now the Scholarships Coordinator at JSU as well as the official photographer for the Marching Southerners.
A big theme of the conversation encouraged students to follow their dreams and do what they love, something that occurred to the panelists during their schooling.
Wheale came to JSU on a tennis scholarship and initially considered majoring in Biology until deciding it was not for her. After being advised to simply do what she loved to do, she changed her major to Drama. After graduating, she went on to Cumberland School of Law, but soon started to miss her true love: acting. She began auditioning and landed roles in Lee and Eastwood’s films. Billy Lynn was her first onscreen acting role and she was initially nervous, worrying that since she was new, she might not be good enough to be cast.
“When I look back on it,” Wheale recalled, “I just said, ‘You’re there for a reason.’ You know, you get hired for a reason. That’s acting; that’s whatever you want to go into.”
Wheale was honored as the JSU’s 2017 Young Alum of the Year at the homecoming game ni October.
Christopher, like Wheale, had a change of heart. Christopher was set on being a doctor ever since she was a little girl, even being offered a full ride to Emory University, but she realized it was not for her.
“Somebody told me the other day, they said, ‘Man plans and God laughs’,” Christopher joked as she talked about opting to attend JSU for a year until she figured out what she truly wanted to do.
After a short stint as a Math major, a few of her English teachers told her she should consider their field, claiming that it fit her personality. She first started as a high school teacher eventually gravitating back to JSU to teach English.
“I truly believe I got the job teaching at JSU because the people I knew from the past knew that whatever it was that I was going to do, I would work really hard,” she said, claiming her work ethic and punctuality did not hurt.
Du Pont had originally gotten a job as a telephone operator at a young age and gradually moved higher and higher in the business. He dropped out of JSU to pursue his job, but eventually decided to re-enroll in 2008 and focus on his first love: photography. While he loves working as the Scholarship Coordinator at JSU, being able to photograph the Southerners as well as working on his own photography is his real passion: “Make yourself happy,” was his simple yet effective advice.
Wheale ended the talk by saying, “Follow your passion and make it your own dream,” which is truly sound advice for anyone, no matter what career they are pursuing.