GV theater student named 2012 MacNair Scholar

GVL / Eric Coulter
Bridgett Vanderhoof works on a piece inthe Costume Shop where she is employed

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Bridgett Vanderhoof works on a piece inthe Costume Shop where she is employed

Tyler Steimle

Grand Valley State University senior Bridgett Vanderhoof has the fire to light up her future, and now has the means to finance it.

Vanderhoof, a theater major, was recently chosen as a 2012 MacNair Scholar. The national program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Education, helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for doctoral programs.

After graduation, Vanderhoof plans to pursue a doctorate degree in theater studies and teach at a college or university.

“I think one of the most significant influences on my life has been the fact that I grew up in a first generation, low-income family,” Vanderhoof said. “I have been working my whole life to prove myself, and I feel like I have been accomplishing a lot at Grand Valley.”

In addition to being named a MacNair Scholar, Vanderhoof has received two consecutive Shakespeare Scholarships, which honor students who do outstanding work in the drama department and annual Shakespeare Festival, in which Vanderhoof served as managing director this year.

“(It’s) probably the biggest responsibility that we give to students,” said communications professor Karen Libman. “Bridgett is an amazingly hard worker. Her standards are very exacting, and she expects others to be as dedicated as she is.”

In 2010, Vanderhoof was the assistant stage manager for GVSU productions of “Rhinoceros” and “Founding.”

In 2011, she served as dramaturge and also played the role of Acroteleutium for “The Braggart Soldier.” Some of her other acting credits at GVSU include a role in the ensemble in 2010’s “As You Like It” and the roles of Helen and Kate in this year’s Bard to Go, the university’s touring Shakespeare production, which travelled to the Bahamas in the fall.

“I love theatre because of the ways that it can both entertain and inform at the same time,” Vanderhoof said. “People go to the theatre not only to be amused, but (to) experience a form of art that can be a vehicle for social change. It has opened my eyes to how I view and communicate with other people.”

Vanderhoof comes to Allendale from Ludington, Mich., where she spent much of her childhood singing in elementary school choir programs. She became interested in musical theater in high school by getting involved in show choir. Her first theater performance was as a senior in high school, when she played Sandy in “Grease.”

“After that show I was just hungry to work with theatre more,” Vanderhoof said.

Vanderhoof keeps busy at GVSU with minors in advertising and public relations and English and several extracurricular commitments.

She is the financial officer of GVSU’s chapter of national theater fraternity Alpha Psi Omega, serves on the Honorary/Professional Funding Board for Student Life and works in the GVSU costume shop.

“She has big aspirations and I have no doubt she will achieve her dreams,” Libman said.

Vanderhoof’s next role will be behind the curtain as the production stage manager for GVSU’s upcoming stage production of “Antonia Garcia”.

“I love Grand Valley theater for many reasons,” Vanderhoof said. “The professors are not only great at being teachers, but at being people that (can) help us figure out our futures.”

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