All the World’s a Stage for Scholarship Recipients

Photo by: Bara Photography

The importance of focus is one lesson that Shunté Lofton (’15), a Houston-based actor who performs in productions around the U.S., learned during her time at UH. “When it comes to auditions, the only thing I have control over is how prepared I am,” she explains. “I can’t control the weather, the traffic, or the mood of the casting directors, so I save the energy I would have used on worrying about things and use it for something more productive.”

Similarly, when students receive a scholarship to support their studies at UH, they can focus the energy they might have spent worrying about finances on their studies and craft.

But, scholarships can be meaningful beyond financial reasons. “Being awarded a scholarship helped me financially, of course, but it also filled me with a  great sense of pride,” Lofton recalls. “Being selected to receive help to continue my studies made me want to work even harder than I already was to express how much I appreciated the assistance.”

This particular scholarship she received also has a meaningful history. The Cecil J. Pickett Scholarship Endowment Fund, named for the legendary UH professor who inspired generations of actors like Dennis Quaid (’74) and Brent Spiner (FS ’71), continues his legacy by supporting students at the School of Theatre & Dance within the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts. Serendipitously, Lofton was able to work with his daughter, actress Cindy Pickett (’72) at the 2012 Houston Shakespeare Festival, the professional arm of the UH School of Theatre & Dance: Pickett starred in both “Hamlet” and “Comedy of Errors,” while Lofton was assistant director for the latter production.

The Houston Shakespeare Festival is only one example of the valuable professional experience Lofton gained at UH. “If I had not received the training that I did at UH, I would not be booking the jobs I am now,” she says. “They didn’t just teach us about acting, they taught us how to be professionals. I had the privilege of being surrounded by a group of talented, intelligent, hilarious, and hardworking people for four years, and witnessed our collective growth as people and as performers.”

Lofton returned to the UH stage post-graduation in 2016 to star in “Intimate Apparel” by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, and has performed in numerous Houston productions. Later this year, she’ll head to Staunton, Va. to perform with the American Shakespeare Center’s 2017 summer/fall season.

Beyond that? “Winning a Tony award in the year 2020 — you heard it here first!” she laughs. Coogs have never been known for thinking small, and scholarships have the potential to make those dreams even bigger.

 

To support the Cecil J. Pickett Scholarship Endowment Fund, or another scholarship fund for UH students, make a gift today. For more information about creating an endowed scholarship, contact the Office of Development at (713)-743-4708 or development@uh.edu.