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Focus on the Faculty: Emily Sahakian

Alan Flurry

Associate professor of theatre and French Emily Sahakian integrates her work on campus with community partnerships that include a mentorship program at local high schools, an after-school theatre program at a middle school, and workshops at local nonprofit organizations:

As part of the Experience UGA program, I worked with high school teacher Ashley Goodrich and Claire Coenen of the Office of Service-Learning to concoct an ambitious plan to bring hundreds of 10th graders to UGA to experience the interdisciplinary arts and to implement a youth leadership program surrounding the trip through my “Community-based Theatre” course. Watching our dreams unfold before our eyes was definitely a highlight of my career at UGA. Another highlight was devising, with education professor Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, an interactive play about the state of public K-12 schooling in Georgia as part of a summer course we co-taught. Theatre enabled us to discuss timely issues like standardized testing, highly mobile and homeless students, English-only mandates and the cutting of arts and language programs, and to engage in community problem-solving with a group of pre- and in-service teachers. The icing on the cake was seeing our performance on the front page of the Athens Banner-Herald. Watching staged readings of my co-translation (with Andrew Daily) of the play “Histoire de nègre” (Tale of Black Histories) has been so rewarding. Bringing the internationally renowned Caribbean director Gilbert Laumord to UGA to work with our students on a staged reading as part of an international conference about the play was amazing. Another highlight was presenting research from my book at the Université des Antilles in Martinique: it was thrilling and humbling to bring the research to the place whose realities, art, culture and intellectualism inspired it. Of course, I was incredibly honored to receive the Michael F. Adams Early Career Scholar Award and the Service-Learning Excellence in Teaching Award.

Great profile of a dedicated educator. So many extraordinary people make UGA and Athens what it is, and Dr. Sahakian provides important bridges within this dynamic cultural and educational ecosystem. We are glad she calls UGA home, creating art and opportunities for students at every level.



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