Abby LaBrash is an excellent candidate for the Newman Fellowship because of her approaches to serving rural communities in Maine through education, theater, dance and the Arts. Abby is from Rumford Maine, a town in the Western part of the state with a population of just over 5,000. For many years now, she has volunteered in central Maine as a teacher, mentor, and councilor to youth. Abby is especially interested in helping queer youth and girls in rural areas through the arts volunteering with “Girl’s Talk,” working as a Maine Arts Camp Counselor, and working as a substitute teacher. Abby is a dancer and performer herself, participating in theater productions, becoming a talented accompanist, and participating in a community music program that focused on using music as a political tool. At Colby, she is the co-director and co-founder of the Colby Dance Team, participating in and directing the Broadway Musical Revue, and continuing her feminist anti-racist work in theater and music. As Abby states, “working with/giving back to rural communities like the one I’m from is something I’d like to do with the rest of my life.”
I believe that the arts are an essential part of education and can have a positive impact on young people. Growing up, music and theatre were areas in which I could express myself and connect with others, essential skills in creating larger communities and understanding society. At Colby College, I have had the opportunity to be an active member and leader of student-run performing arts groups. I work with my peers to create safe and inclusive spaces, accepting of all identities. Through creating art, students come together to form supportive relationships. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to work with middle-school age children, helping foster their creativity through performing arts. In the future, I hope to help make performing arts education more accessible to young students, particularly in economically disadvantaged rural areas.