Alumnus Andre Johnson III (2018) first-ever recipient of Theatre Memphis’ Priscilla Presley Scholarship
André Johnson III, TSCS Class of 2018 and a junior at the University of Memphis in the Department Theatre and Dance majoring in Theatre, has been tapped as the recipient of the first Theatre Memphis Priscilla Presley Scholarship award. André’s enthusiasm and dedication to create a path for himself in the theatre environment stood out as a beacon to those who believe in themselves and hard work, according to the scholarship selection committee.
Debbie Litch, Executive Producer at Theatre Memphis lauds, “An actor, singer, playwright and promoter, André’s broad experience and talent proved that the scholarship support would be put to great use to help this young man pursue his dreams and pay tribute to his community. His path to his goal has taken him through the Stax Music Academy, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and now the U of M where his mentors commend him for his resilience and optimism.”
Delondra Woods (2018) has overcome struggles to work with “the most misunderstood children in the world” at Youth Villages
Hello, my name is Delondra Woods. I graduated Class of 2018. I have just recently graduated from Tennessee State University in May. Although this was the most rewarding time of my life this year, it was also the most overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what was next for me and refused to settle. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology with a minor in sociology. I knew I wanted to work with children, keep learning, and make money.
Most times people were telling me what to expect going into and during college but not about life after graduation. Many questions from everyone were being asked, “what’s next?” and “what are you going to do?” I felt completely overwhelmed because the entire four years it was all about my job, passing my courses, and having fun. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t have it exactly planned.
Right before graduation I lost my job. I was applying for multiple jobs, finishing final exams, and preparing for graduation. I found myself stressed and overwhelmed. Through it all I was able to manage every challenge being thrown at me.
I realized that I conquered four challenging years of college. Through the midst of a global pandemic, personal struggles, and more, I made it. This was not the end, but a very unique beginning into an ebullient chapter.
I applied to Youth Villages with much confidence, even though I was terrified because of people’s deprecating comments about the job. Youth Villages is a therapeutic behavioral facility for children who have suffered traumatic events in their life. Although I had lost my previous job, I Door Dashed until graduation and a little afterwards until officially starting Youth Villages. I was offered the Teacher-Counselor position and I am a part of the YV 360 developmental program.
Everything I was terrified about went out of the window when I started Youth Villages. I am now building therapeutic rapports with the most misunderstood children in the world, I am learning more about myself, I am developing throughout the company, and networking.
Once I am more settled into my job I will be obtaining my master’s degree.
I am forever proud of myself and grateful because, despite the comments and questions, I listened to myself the most during this time. This was my life, I worked hard, this was my well-deserved degree. I stopped feeling discouraged because this was a chapter waiting for me to begin.
I am the proudest of my determination to surpass my doubts. My greatest advice would be to not give up on yourself when things seem to be frantic. Do not let others decide your future for you because you are in control of your own destiny.
Graduating college is the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one (fresh start). It’s the time where you become the most influential change you want to see. Plan ahead, manage your emotions, and save your money the best that you can. Lastly, breathe, do not settle, and realize challenges are meant to test your strengths. Be strong and courageous because you can do anything.
YOU GOT THIS!
Johnathon Lee (2018) cast in leading role in University of Memphis’ production of The Rocky Horror Show
Class of 2018 alumnus Johnathon Lee, a senior BFA Theatre major with a concentration in musical theatre at University of Memphis, has been tapped to play the leading role of Dr. Frank n’ Furter in the University of Memphis’ cult class, sci-Ii, rock and roll musical production of The Rocky Horror Show November 10-19.
Lee has performed in places like the Mississippi Delta and on the National Mall for the grand opening ceremonies of the Smithsonian’s African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington D.C. He was part of the Stax Music Academy 2017 European Tour that took him to numerous locations in France and the United Kingdom. In 2021, he represented Soulsville in Paris during a series of screenings of the documentary film Soul Kids about the Stax Music Academy. An avid member of 926, the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band, he has also performed in Pippin at the University of Memphis. His credits include Ghost the musical, Memphis, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and Ragtime.
In this production of Rocky Horror, sweethearts Brad and Janet discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank n’ Furter. Through elaborate songs and dances, Brad and Janet meet a house full of wild characters, including Frank’s latest creation, a muscular man named Rocky!
According to the University of Memphis’ website, “This musical transgresses time and encourages radical self-expression and sexual liberation. We encourage patrons to come dressed in the spirit of Rocky Horror! In the wise words of Frank n’ Furter, ‘Don’t Dream it, be it.’”
For details and tickets, please visit https://bit.ly/3NUMew8.