On Friday Dec. 9, 2016, 11 students in Theatre and Dance Contract Lecturer Cynthia McLaughlin’s class unveiled and performed their semester-long choreographed dances in an event known as the Choreography Showcase. One of those students, however, was not a typical KSC student.
Although she works on campus like 1,094 other KSC students, per Keene State College’s Fall 2016- Spring 2017 Factbook, her job is not included in this statistic, simply because she is a staff member.
Diana Duffy, an Oberlin College and Antioch University New England alumna and resident of Keene, NH, is the Coordinator of Energy and Administrative Services at KSC. Before beginning her career here in 2011, Duffy worked in a few other New England States, as well as New York, according to KSC’s website.
In the six years that Duffy has worked for KSC, she has managed to take a total of six classes, some of which included Modern II, a dance class, and Percussion Ensemble, a music class.
Duffy had expressed interest in taking a dance class for a while, but was finally influenced by Provost William Seigh.
“…the day that he [William Seigh] was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year was shortly after I was hired… and so after that event, I caught him… and he said ‘Oh yea, take a dance class’ with such enthusiasm. There was no doubt in his mind. ‘Take a dance class…’ So I did,” she said.
Duffy also mentioned that another influence was due to the location of her job being at a college.
“…I work at a college,” she started. “You’re surrounded by all kinds of learning opportunities and it would seem…like you’re missing out on that by not taking advantage. As energy coordinator for the campus, I have some interactions with students and faculty, but not much. Taking a class at least puts me in that place where I have that perspective and there’s been a lot of great moments where I get to see, firsthand, some of the many strengths that the college has.”
One of the major difficulties with taking a class is managing time. Duffy, who’s married, works a full time job and also serves as the advisor for KSC’s radio station WKNH, would find herself, at times, overwhelmed with time management, calling it a “headtrip.”
“It’s like any commitment you make. It inserts itself and it puts pressure on your work day, your relationships, you know, your sleep… I guess we could say that’s another advantage…you’re reminded again just the demands of being a student… the pressure was on me just like the pressure is on everybody else, so I can have a great respect and appreciation for the students…”
In Duffy’s most recent class, Research in Choreography, Duffy worked alongside junior Amanda Untracht.
Untracht, who double majors in choreography and performance and business management, has been in other classes with Duffy.
“…I love her. Her energy’s great… it’s interesting to have somebody else in the class that doesn’t have the same background as you, so it’s nice to have that change,” she said.
“She grows just like… the rest of the students… it’s nice to see where she goes with it, like in choreography class, she kind of took the root of her piece through her work which was interesting because some of the class took it as personal life back home.”
Duffy’s instructor for the class was Cynthia McLaughlin. Though McLaughlin has taught staff members at other schools, Duffy was her first staff pupil at KSC.
“She’s a non-traditional student and I think… in some ways that just gives her this freedom,” she said. “She sees it as a limitation sometimes. She grapples with that herself… but she, in the end, doesn’t limit herself.”
“It just shows how even when something’s new for you, you bring whatever you’ve been investing in, and she’s [Duffy’s] obviously been investing in all these other areas in her life. She brings all of that to the dance. She doesn’t leave it at the door.”
McLaughlin also said, “She ends up just being this incredible inspiration for all of us because she just… dares. She dares to really take things on and give her whole being to them. It’s just really inspiring to be a part of that and be around her.”
Duffy is considering taking one or two classes this semester, but has not selected any specific ones yet.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org