Have you ever heard over 1,000 elementary students screaming in excitement? If not, then you haven’t had the opportunity to witness Michele’s Little Hearts Theatre, one of Cory Iwaszewski’s favorite productions in the School of the Arts. Cory is the Media and Community Outreach Manager for the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts. He started this position in 2019 after receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from IU South Bend. According to Jorge Muñiz, the interim Dean for the Raclin School of the Arts, “Cory has been an amazing addition to our Raclin School team. His responsibilities include being the hub for relations with community organizations, including schools for purposes of community presence and recruitment. He works directly with our Production and Marketing Manager to devise strategies for our presence in our community.” Cory wants to ensure that the community is aware that the School of the Arts can serve as a resource, but he also wants to promote students. “I want to make sure that students are seen for all of their hard work,” says Cory.
Outreach is Cory’s favorite part of his position: “I love connecting with people—especially the elementary students that come for Michele’s Little Hearts Theatre.” Michele’s Little Hearts Theatre program is an annual event that invites local elementary students to campus to witness what is usually their first live theatre experience! Last year, the campus welcomed 6,000 K-5 students over the course of three days. Cory explains, “It’s a lot of work and planning to make it happen, but once the students arrive and you hear them screaming with excitement—all the work is worth it.”
Cory, along with a few others, is also in the process of developing a peer mentoring program that matches children in South Bend schools with students in our School of the Arts. He is working on an information fair for K-12 students at the end of every semester to showcase the different majors and concentrations available on our campus.
When Cory is not developing new outreach efforts, he is editing Aspire, the annual magazine of the School of the Arts. Cory is also spearheading a database project to identify needs of local schools and determine how the School can help meet those needs.
“Cory is at the heart of our community engagement in the Raclin School of the Arts. As a community of artists and scholars, it is our goal to be a driving force for change in our community at large,” says Muñiz. As an art student himself, Cory knows that having the community involved makes a world of difference. “Our students work really hard, and we want the community to know that. Having the support from our community means everything to every program we offer and to every student,” said Cory. And the work that Cory does to retain and increase support and involvement from the community makes that all possible.