By Elizabeth Shestak (DC’03)

Emma McFarland wants to accept what the Kennedy Center is offering, a chance to work there for the summer in what is considered a top 100 internship in the Princeton Review rankings.

One problem. The internship is unpaid. Using her Carnegie Mellon ingenuity, the undergrad decides to enroll in a two-week mixology course. If she can learn how to make a cocktail, she can bartend in the nation’s capital during the evenings, so she can then afford to work at the internationally renowned theater during the days.

This isn’t the first time McFarland has needed to be resourceful. She might be a rising senior, but she has only been at CMU for a year. She transferred halfway through college because she fell in love with dramaturgy—the part of theater making that supports a production with historical, contextual, and dramatic research—only to find out that the sole dramaturgy professor at her prior school was let go.

She scrambled to find a college where dramaturgy thrived and was intrigued by CMU’s School of Drama, which offers everything from play development to production support to audience outreach.

By her junior year of college, she was enrolled at CMU, and she says it was definitely the “right choice,” highlighted by the fact that she was one of just 28 applicants nationwide selected for the Kennedy Center internship.

It’s a theater of the “biggest scale imaginable,” she says, which is why she was willing to “stretch” financially to make it happen. So, she learns how to make a “chaitini” as well as a number of “umbrella” drinks, which leads to a summer working days at the Kennedy Center and making drinks in the evenings at a nearby restaurant.

By summer’s end, she’s delighted to have learned the “ins and outs” of theater production and thinks she’ll have an interest in pursuing new play development, which she considered the most interesting facet of the summer internship.

And, not long after returning to the CMU campus last fall, she received some welcome news at the start of her senior year: She was one of just 40 seniors selected to be an Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar. The recipients are selected each year by their deans and department heads to represent their class in service and leadership. To support their academic and personal growth, each of the scholars receives a monetary award, which McFarland happily reports is far more than her summer’s bartending tips.