As someone who grew up attending Drayton Entertainment theatre productions — Cinderella, Mary Poppins, High School Musical and The Wizard of Oz, to name a few — Hanna couldn’t believe how the stars aligned when she landed her first-ever co-op job with the production company.

For the second-year Arts student, who’s studying literature and rhetoric with a minor in performance creation, participating in co-op at Waterloo is a way to get hands-on experience before she applies to teacher’s college. So, when she found out the role at Drayton would also involve working with young people, it felt too good to be true.

Hanna’s co-op position is funded in part by Circle donors through the Arts for Social Good Fund. By covering the cost of her salary, donors aren’t just helping her get the experience she needs to build her teaching career. They’re also supporting valuable arts education that’s “all about breaking down barriers and making sure students can pursue their passions.”


Accepting the opportunity — and returning for a second work term this past fall — was an easy decision for Hanna. Among her many responsibilities, from program support to promotions to sales, the highlight of the experience was helping run Drayton’s new Youth Academy. The initiative gives young people opportunities to learn from and perform with professionals in the industry through programs like March Break theatre camps and an upcoming high school production.

“Many high schools are no longer putting on musicals, so there are a lot of students who would not have had the opportunity to do something like this. With the Youth Academy, any Waterloo Region student can participate free of charge,” Hanna says.

While she grew up attending musical theatre, Hanna says she fell into the performing arts by accident in high school. She credits that experience with helping her overcome fear and shyness and inspiring her to follow her current path. “I definitely want to have the same impact on kids growing up. I want to remind them that there are spaces where they can express themselves and make lifelong friends and grow in confidence.”