Emerson’s Class of 2018 is a success story in the making—SAT scores, grade point averages, and diversity are all on the increase, and 44 percent of the new students were ranked in the top 10 percent academically in their high school classes.
But some students don’t just stand out for high test scores: They’re published authors, successful entertainers, and social justice activists.
Leo Manzari ’18, an Acting major from Washington, DC, is one half of The Manzari Brothers, who have made several television dance appearances—including tap, jazz, swing, ballet, and calypso—in addition to acting and singing. Manzari’s mentor is the legendary Maurice Hines.
“I chose Emerson because I want to immerse myself in the creative community and collaborate with other students to create something great,” Manzari said. “Film acting is another tool I plan on using to create and innovate.”
In 2010, The Manzari Brothers were personally invited by So You Think You Can Dance host Nigel Lythgoe to perform on the show’s season finale (as guests, not as contestants).
“It was a great experience, but my brother and I took it as just another gig,” Manzari said. “I’m grateful for anytime I get to put my shoes on and put a smile on someone’s face.”
Manzari first met Hines in the ninth grade when he and his brother were discovered in a jazz dancing class. “He asked us to come to his audition [for a production of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies at the Lincoln Theatre] the next day,” he said. “Since then, my brother and I have been performing together as The Manzari Brothers.”
Elizabeth Skerry ’18, a Marketing Communication major, created a stir—and a movement—in her hometown of Plaistow, New Hampshire, when she challenged her high school’s dress code and launched the “Right to Bare Arms” campaign, which gained a lot of media attention.
“I instantly thought of Audrey Hepburn and Michelle Obama as sleeveless role models,” Skerry said. “I spent much of my junior year fighting for something I truly believe in; I sought to change a dress code that unfairly targets female students.”
Skerry told her school board that banning sleeveless attire was unfair. Not only did the school reverse that portion of its dress code, but the superintendent also asked Skerry to participate in the Student Voice Committee, which was created as a result of Skerry’s efforts.
“My campaign made a difference and raised awareness of the insidious targeting of female students through archaic, gender-biased dress codes,” she said. “Our voices were heard.”
At Emerson, Skerry is happy to be with “like-minded individuals and could not feel more at home…I am always fascinated by the level of talent, innovation, and artistic joy that surrounds me.”
Mitchell Girgasky ’18 is a Performing Arts major in the Theatre Design/Technology program, from Newtown, Connecticut, and helped set up President Obama’s historical press conference after the Sandy Hook school massacre.
“I had the opportunity to meet the president following the event, which was a bittersweet moment,” Girgasky said. “It was an honor to do so, but it’s a chance that never should have arisen.”
As a member of Newtown High School’s Auditorium Crew, Girgasky oversaw the lighting equipment and technical system. He worked three days straight to help set up Obama’s globally broadcast press conference.
Girgasky recalls the difficulty of witnessing his community endure a high level of devastation after the unthinkable tragedy.
“I’ll never forget walking into school…to see teachers crying and hugging,” Girgasky said. “It was very difficult to watch our principal in tears in front of 1,700 students.”
Girgasky said he first developed an interest in design and technology as a stage manager in eighth grade. “I am always fascinated by the power each technical aspect has with regard to the audience’s experience,” he said. “I hope that Emerson will help me grow as a designer. One of the most important aspects of theatre training is being hands-on.”
Andrew Grant ’18, a Writing, Literature and Publishing major from Silver Spring, Maryland, is a published author who was interviewed on an NPR affiliate after releasing a trilogy while still in high school. “What’s really great…is seeing the characters really come alive as the story shifts and changes,” Grant said. “Writing gives me a chance to step away from the world for a while, even if it’s just for an hour or two.”
According to Grant’s website, his Alderian Trilogy consists of three novels that span the course of 20 years and track a nation as it battled through revolution and insurrection.
“My passion is writing and I believe that my classes at Emerson will help me become a better writer,” he said, “and help me prepare for a career. We [Emerson students] all have passions and believe this is the best [college] to help us truly realize [our] potential.”
Isabel McGinty ’18, a Visual and Media Arts major from Newton, Massachusetts, was an actor in the web series Allston Xmas, which received news coverage in the Boston area at the beginning of September.
Allston Xmas is about the so-called “Allston Christmas,” when sidewalks around the city’s Allston neighborhood become dumping grounds for used furniture and trash from college students moving out when their apartment leases expire August 31.
“I’ve acted in many Emerson films, and it was here where I discovered my love of acting and eventually filmmaking,” said McGinty. “I’m very excited to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities Emerson has to offer and to study in my favorite city in the world.”