Brett Iarrobino ’21 is a teacher and actor, and he’s also a neighbor to many Main South children and teens living and learning in the schools around Clark.
Last fall, the theatre arts and English double major and education minor joined the local arts education nonprofit Main IDEA as a volunteer youth leader, teaching visual arts classes to Main South high school students. He since has taught an after-school program for elementary school students at Woodland Academy.
Iarrobino was a recipient of an inaugural 2019 ClarkCONNECT Summer Internship Award, which allowed him to continue his work at Main IDEA.
“Interning for Main IDEA was a transformative moment for me in my college career,” says Iarrobino. “I discovered ways to synthesize all my interests and find a career path that allows me to stay close to all that I love best.”
The Clark junior recently filled us in on his passion for teaching and his love of Main South.
Describe your internship.
Although my official title was assistant program director, I wore many different hats. At certain intervals, I conducted training sessions for our team and coordinated one-on-one check-ins to ensure the administration was maintaining a safe and supportive working environment. Other days saw me in the classroom, teaching drama and creative writing to high-schoolers in partnership with Claremont Academy. I spent hours piecing together a purposeful curriculum that taught the basics of storytelling and dramatic structure, providing our students with a foundational understanding of being onstage or writing for themselves rather than for academic purposes. The odds-and-ends deferred to me as well, like donor relations, community outreach, and publicity management.
By the season’s end, I was leading a coalition of 14 interns through a successful three-week teaching program at Claremont Academy, followed by a one-week, full-day intensive program for local elementary school students at Atwood Hall while also working with adolescent Counselors-in-Training. The most satisfying takeaway this internship left me with was the feeling of community and connection I cultivated with Main South.
What other activities and experiences have you had while at Clark?
I’ve remained heavily involved on Clark’s campus and in the Main South community as an educator and artist. For the past year, I’ve volunteered with the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project, teaching elementary reading skills to a wide age range of refugee children. During the academic year, I enjoy spending afternoons at St. Peter’s Church tutoring elementary school students and assisting with their homework, and I frequently teach classes on microaggressions and social justice in local high schools through the Clark organization Youth Outreach Worcester. For the past two summers, I started my academic year with an early return to campus as a peer adviser during new student orientation.
Since coming to Clark, I’ve pursued my passions in writing, performance art, and the many ways the two intersect. I studied in Luxembourg through the Leir Luxembourg Program, where I also traveled to multiple countries while researching visual theory. The experience has served as the foundation for a dissertation on the performative, visual, and queer politics of the Eurovision Song Contest, a project I plan to submit to the Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal. I’ve also dedicated a great deal of time to honing my playwriting skills. This past semester, I had the honor of placing first for a short play I submitted to the English Department’s Loring Holmes & Ruth Dodd Drama Contest. I’ve also written a full-length, two-act play, and I am extremely excited to say my final draft has been accepted into the 6th Biennial New Play Festival. It will be given a full staged production from November 1 to 3 in the Little Center.
Who has inspired you at Clark?
Since enrolling in his class on playwriting, Professor Gino DiIorio has become an exceptional mentor in my life, sharing his invaluable knowledge of the theater and writing industry with me. His honesty and dedication to fighting for his students and their education is unwavering. Andrea Allen, the program administrator of the Education Department, has done nothing but support me since I came to Clark. Andrea and I crossed paths during my first semester here, and she saw my passion and devotion to transformative education. She has since provided me with so many incredible connections and job opportunities in my line of work, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Many other wonderful Clark faculty members deserve praise for all that they’ve done for me, including Professor Robert Tobin from Comparative Literature, English professors Stephen Levin and Dianne Berg, and Professor Rox Samer of Screen Studies. I also owe a great debt to the many alumni I’ve connected with through ClarkCONNECT. Dozens of accomplished and dedicated Clarkies have met with me over Skype and phone calls, and their insight and understanding have given me so much to think about as I near the completion of my undergraduate studies.
What do you hope to do after you graduate from Clark?
I am eager to apply for Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Program to pursue my master of arts in teaching. My passions lie in a career in education, where I know I can excel at encouraging young people to pursue their creative energies. Expressing myself artistically gave me the confidence and drive that has steered me toward the ambitious path I’m on today. I want to be able to look back on my life and say I inspired the same opportunities for the students I learn and grow with.
How has your time at Clark helped prepare you for your future?
Thanks to the hands-on learning I’ve had at Clark, I feel more than prepared to enter the real world and begin working in a professional capacity. I owe a majority of my ever-expanding résumé to the countless doors this school has opened for me both on and off-campus, and I am grateful for making the most of my time in college and utilizing so many advantageous resources Clark has to offer its students. I feel extremely comfortable in my role as an educator and an artist, and that’s because of the great ways in which Clark encourages its students to step into these positions in tandem with their collegiate studies, allowing for experiential learning that enhances a student’s experience. It’s because of this preparation that I am able to look ahead at a future beyond my undergraduate studies with more excitement than anxiety, and I’m eager to see how the different skills I’ve cultivated at Clark will fuel my post-grad ventures.