Eulogies and masks bring out student voices

Eulogies and masks bring out student voices

Published: March 31, 2015

What do mask-making, eulogies, and communications have in common? Well, if you are a UW Bothell student and lucky enough to take Gavin Doyle’s classes, you will certainly find out. For the final exam in “Discovery Core II: Speaking for the Living,” students performed eulogies for UW Bothell faculty and staff. For authenticity’s sake, the eulogies were delivered at Bothell’s Life Celebrations by Washelli funeral home. David Jang gave a colorful eulogy for IAS assistant professor Christian Anderson.

Doyle didn’t have much trouble locating faculty and staff who were willing to participate in an exercise that some might consider morbid. “Far from being a morbid affair, participants reported being thrilled to hear a summation of their effects on the world,” says Doyle who earned his M.F.A in Theater Performance. “Students gained new perspectives on the value and meaning of life, made personal connections with a wide range of UW Bothell faculty and staff, and developed their public speaking skills in an interesting way.”

This course is part of UW Bothell’s Discovery Core, a series of required courses designed specifically for first year students. They are developed to intentionally increase capacity for active learning and conjure up critical and creative inquiry. The courses also give students the opportunity to increase their understanding of diversity and different world views while learning quantitative and writing skills for communication across different media platforms.

“Speaking for the Living” isn’t Doyle’s only innovation in bringing together the arts with communication. In the IAS Improvisation Series class, ”Mask Improvisation,” Doyle engages students in the history of masks, the art of mask-making, and presentation. Students in this course learn to create an identity and communicate differently depending on the style of mask. For the final exam, students proudly exhibit their masks and communication styles. This quarter’s mask showcase will take place on May 27th in the UW1 2nd-floor Vista.

“This course strengthened my ability to effectively express my opinions to an audience,” says Amanda-Mae Olegario, who is completing her first year and is currently enrolled in her second class taught by Doyle. “The fundamentals of public speaking that I learned specifically from this course will be something I will use during the rest of my college career and beyond. ‘Speaking for the living’ is by far the most memorable and exciting class I've taken during college.” Olegario added, “The mock-eulogy was interesting because I was able to mix research with creativity and create a speech that reflected everything we've been working on all quarter.”

Doyle’s classes are just one example of the innovative ways that UW Bothell brings out the voice in our students from the time they step onto campus. To find out more about Discovery Core at UW Bothell click here.

Image of David Jang

Click here to watch David Jang’s eulogy for the living IAS assistant professor Christian Anderson.