A Story of Connection

Academy Alumnus Ashleigh Nazareth

It’s been 30 years since we founded Gateway Academy. That’s three decades of rigorous rehearsals, theatre game laughing fits, and backstage butterflies. To mark the occasion we’re sharing three stories from our Alumni, one for each decade of Academy, that capture our theatre education program’s core tenets: courage, creativity, and connection. Up next, Ashleigh on connection!

How do theatre classes support a career in medicine? Read on to learn how connecting with others supported aspiring doctor and Academy alumnus Ashleigh Nazareth.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to go into healthcare. But if you’re going to help someone, you have to understand where they are coming from first – that’s where theatre came in.

I started at Academy in grade eight. I had done classes at the community centre and I was training in Indian classical dance, but I really wanted to have the full “theatre kid” experience. Academy seemed to balance fun and learning; I signed up and never looked back. I felt so connected to my castmates and I loved the community I built with my friends there.

Gateway helped me develop a lot of wonderful skills, but especially empathy. I got to learn about characters who had vastly different backgrounds than my own, and then think about why they would take certain actions. What motivated them? How I would feel if I were in their situation? During my bachelor’s degree I got to work with residents of the Downtown Eastside, and I met a lot of wonderful individuals struggling with all sorts of social injustices. Years of getting into someone else’s shoes at Gateway helped me see things from their point of view, and figure out how I could support them from where I was standing. That helped me decide: Yes, I want to do medicine, I want this as a career. I started the Doctor of Medicine program at UBC this year, and this summer I’m working at Children’s Hospital.

I’m so grateful for the years I got to spend at Academy. We played a lot of theatre games, and even though there are lessons to gain from that, you don’t realize how much you’re learning in those moments – it’s just really fun. Gateway Academy teaches invaluable skills for working with people, and for life in general. 

Problem-solving, public speaking, discipline, empathy – a performer’s skill set comes in handy for school, work, and life. Whether a child is set on sciences or social media, Academy can help them pursue their passions with confidence. Explore our Fall and Winter theatre classes!