Social Change / Theater
B.S. January 2014, Summa cum Laude
Home College: Brooklyn
Mentors: Profs. Tamara Brown, Sociology and Dale Byam, Africana Studies, Brooklyn
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
The Friar’s Foundation Scholarship
Harriet Brows Scholarship for Social Change
Sheila and Helena O’Donoghue Award
The Sojourner Truth Memorial Award
Arielle John hails from Trinidad and Tobago. She earned a legal studies degree from the University of London in 2010, then relocated to New York. From 2008-10, she worked as a youth poet mentor and workshop facilitator with a theatre in education organization called Arts-in-Action at the University of the West Indies. This was the start of her journey as a community activist.
She says, “CUNY Baccalaureate allowed me the freedom to design a college experience that corresponded with my needs as an artist who strongly believes in social activism and engagement. As an international student from a previous law program, I needed to escape the heavy theoretical hand of incubator-like learning, and become part of something that afforded me more human interactions and actual involvement with the various communities I wanted to learn from and render service to.”
For her degree, John created and directed theatre pieces that speak to a number of social issues that are close to her heart, including human trafficking, racism and discrimination based upon religious and cultural practice. “I was able to develop my seminal work ‘Cascadoo’ which is being further developed into a staged piece looking at women’s issues and global migration. Additionally, I have started teaching and working with high school students, which has become central to my own creative outreach process and development as an arts educator. During my studies, I traveled to South Africa for two months to work with a group of young women at a theater organization where they created an award-winning production examining the nature of gender based violence in their society. I am an unapologetic ambassador for CUNY BA since it has granted me so many invaluable and life-changing opportunities, that I always recommend to all my high school students each semester.”
In addition to tutoring high school students at Brooklyn College, she was a teaching assistant for Introduction to Theater. Prof. Dale Byam said, “I first met Arielle in my Literature of the African Diaspora class. From the very first day, she stood out as a student who showed great promise and a strong sense of determination. In my Black Theater class, she showed tremendous creativity, further reified by her beautiful writing and speaking skills. It is encouraging to work with such a committed individual; she is an exceptional young woman.”
As for post-graduate plans, John is taking the year off to work with a Caribbean Theatre Company (Caribbean Cultural Theatre) as well as continuing to teach at Brooklyn College. In 2015 she hopes to start a Master’s program in Community Theatre/Applied Theatre either in New York or in South Africa. She describes her overall college experience in CUNY BA as highly relevant and dynamic.