Colleen Fielding Cook ’13 decided to attend Shenandoah because she was interested in the commercial music voice pedagogy program, which was the only one of its kind at the time. However, once at the university, a fellow student encouraged Cook to pursue an arts management degree. Associate Professor of Arts Management David Edelman, former Vocal/Choral Professor Kathryn Green and Janette Ogg also encouraged Cook to take on a double major. Along with their encouragement, the professors were able to make her time at the university an meaningful experience, and helped her receive a prestigious internship at Americans for the Arts.
“While at Shenandoah, I received outstanding instruction as well as access to internships that prepared me to take on any challenge I would face,” said Cook. “My professors taught me how to think objectively and approach a challenge, and they remain wonderful resources and mentors to this day.”
With the knowledge and skills Cook learned at Shenandoah, she went on to work at the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, Ohio, as the director of development and director of marketing. “The quality of education students receive at Shenandoah is outstanding,” said Cook. “I was prepared for anything that came my way following my graduation, no matter how challenging, because I had the resources and the connections available to me and my instructors taught me how to approach challenges in the field.”
Some of Cook’s most rewarding moments during her position were being able to form community partnerships that benefited not only the theatre, but other organizations in the community. An example of this was helping to create an exhibit at the local children’s museum based on the theatre. Cook was able to help grow the audience, raise the community profile of the organization, as well as secure funding for numerous projects, including a grant which funded the restoration of plaster and paint on the interior of the theatre. She also created a podcast and a weekly blog that was able to garner thousands of downloads and encourage audience growth. “Being able to make a difference in the life of our small town makes me proud!” explained Cook.
After six years of working for the Renaissance Theatre, Cook has recently accepted the position as director of operations for Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, Ohio. She oversees operations of an inbound marketing agency, which includes project management, strategy development and execution for client work.
Cook’s advice to students is: “Walk through the doors that open, and don’t kick down the doors that stay closed. When you are equipped with solid knowledge and experience, you can safely trust yourself and your instincts.”