Apply for Gateway Mentorships by Nov. 20!

Alohilani Melody Valdez

USITT is now accepting nominations for participants in the Gateway Program at USITT 2016 in Salt Lake City.  The Gateway Program is a mentorship opportunity for students and young professionals from under-represented populations (including, but not limited to, gender, race, sexual identity/orientation, and ability).

 At the conference, each participant will be paired with a mentor from a similar background and field of interest.  There are 12 mentorships available, and each participant receives conference registration, and one year of USITT membership, as well as special opportunities at conference tailored to maximize their experience.  There are housing and travel funds available based on need and the ability of the nominating organization’s ability to support the nominee’s travel.

2016 marks the third year of the Gateway Program.  Gateway was established in honor of USITT Board Member and mentor Tayneshia Jefferson, using funds that were donated to USITT in her honor after her passing in 2013.  Two of the Gateway mentorships are named in her honor and are committed to bringing black/African-American participants to the program.

The Gateway experience is making a significant impact on its participants: 

“The Gateway Program has given me a new outlook on the theatre world. Where I once stood alone, at USITT I walked into a room so full of faces like mine that my heart filled to bursting. Here were people just like me, with similar experiences. I made so many friends from around the country and I got to network with great people too. While I'm confident in my talents, I now feel like my career is set to take off. I can't wait to turn around and be a mentor in the Gateway Program. “—Alohilani Valdez, mentee from UT Arlington

“Going into the conference, I was nervous for all that was about to take place. I had so many questions, such as who I was going to talk to, what people were going to think of me, and how I was going to navigate my way through the conference. Little did I know, I was lucky enough to have the Gateway Program to guide me through the week. This program changed my life. Some of the people I met during the conference will be my future coworkers, a contact for the rest of my career, a friend, and maybe even be a second family, but every person I met at the conference has influenced my life in more than one way.” –Marisa Melito, mentee from DePaul University

Nominations must be submitted by November 20, 2015 at  Upon completion of the nomination process, nominees will be contacted to complete a questionnaire. Any questions, please contact Kasey Allee-Foreman at


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