Eric Jorgensen selected as 2018 Graduate Division Commencement Speaker

By Graduate Division Staff
Monday, June 04, 2018 10:15 AM

Eric Jorgensen at the 2017 Grad Slam Final RoundCongratulations to Eric Jorgensen, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theater and Dance, who will be taking the stage as this year's Student Speaker at the 2018 Graduate Division Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, June 18, 4 p.m. at the Commencement Green.

Eric's dissertation, "Reacquired: I, Thou and the American AIDS Play," focuses on the corpus of American drama written about and in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He is a UCSB Doctoral Scholars Fellow and the 2017 recipient of the Dean’s Prize Teaching Fellowship for the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. He was also inducted as a distinguished member in the UCSB chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. An accomplished public speaker, Eric was a runner-up at the 2017 UCSB Grad Slam final round.

In this GradPost special feature, Eric talks about being chosen as our student speaker, his research goals, and his ambitions for the future.

How do you feel about being chosen as our student speaker at this year's Graduate Division Commencement Ceremony?

I’m deeply honored, but to be honest, I’m trying not to think about it as an honor at the moment. ​When all is said and done, it’s a big job – and a big responsibility. I want what I say on that afternoon to land, to resonate for the occasion, and – to the best of my ability – be memorable. I’m grateful for this opportunity, but at the same time, an opportunity means I have to rise to the occasion.

What do you feel are your biggest accomplishments as a scholar here at UCSB?

My field is theater, and my dissertation project concerns the corpus of American drama written about HIV/AIDS. I think what I’m most proud of related to my project is that it has added to the archive and how we organize this collection of drama, in terms of American theater as well as the humanities and public health and several other issues. So I’m proud of that.

I’m very proud that this is a project that has helped to bridge the division between theater scholarship and theater practice. That’s frankly a big deal in my field because they tend to be two separate things.

The biggest thing though – and this is with the support of my dissertation committee and the people I work with – this project has also been a deeply personal pursuit. So to find the way in which something that I care about myself can contribute to overall theater scholarship is deeply rewarding for myself, and I hope it has impact for the theater community. That’s what I’m most proud of as a scholar here.

What's next for you after grad school at UCSB?

Officially, I'm not done done yet. I have a little more to do, and I have some big opportunities coming up here on campus next year. Although this is my commencement, I’m not officially out the door yet. I’m also on the job market. I’m looking for a teaching position at a university somewhere. The hope is to continue my scholarship and my theater practice in a theater department where I can be working with students to discover their own way of bridging the two parts of our field. That’s the plan...that’s the hope.