Minerva students are empowered to cultivate their passions through founding and participating in Student Initiatives (SIs) alongside their studies. At Minerva, there is a large community of students across all majors that appreciate the arts and take part in activities that celebrate them. Aleksandra Tulowiecka, a Class of 2025 student from Poland, who is majoring in Social Sciences (Politics) and Arts and Humanities (History), is the founder of the Musical Theatre Company Thalia: “In my high school, I used to lead the theater club with fellow Minerva student Lydia Etherington, who is now my co-leader of Thalia. Although we used to organize plays and shows often, we felt that the school club allowed us less flexibility than SIs at Minerva.”
Aleksandra’s passion for theater is deeply rooted in her early years of growing up in Poland. “I began participating in theater workshops at the age of 7 and performed in the local theater at 15. However, the biggest influence in my love for theater was my aunt, who works as a vocal trainer at the Musical Academy in my city and prepares musical performances for some of the biggest Polish theaters. From an early age, I attended her premieres that fascinated me and inspired me to follow her path. However, I chose acting and directing as I am not too comfortable with singing,” says Aleksandra.
“At Minerva, we started Thalia back in San Francisco. We produce musical theater performances, including Broadway and Western plays, as well as Musical Reviews that are a set of musical numbers in the form of a concert. It was difficult for us to land on a name for the Student Initiative, but we decided to draw inspiration from Roman mythology, following Minerva’s example. Thalia is one of Apollo’s Muses of comedy, which resonated with the humorous nature of our productions.”
Aleksandra explained how the SI grew during her time at Minerva: “We initially started this initiative as a one-time project which I was particularly excited about, as we chose to produce SIX, a musical about women’s empowerment and sisterhood. The play awakened a love and passion for musicals in many of my classmates, which motivated us to continue leading the SI and involve the wider Minerva community.”
The SI involves a diverse student community with roles ranging from performers to costume designers, light managers, vocal directors, and more. “In our last production in Taipei, we involved over 30 people in the Musical Review through different roles. This helped us speed up production and create a show within 3 and a half months. Initially, we spread the news about the first production through word-of-mouth, but after SIX, even peers with no previous experience in musical theater were excited to participate in our activities.”
Thalia is currently operating from Hyderabad, but also planning ahead for their semesters in Buenos Aires and London: “Right now, we are working on the play Dear Evan Hansen under a very tight schedule and are aiming to host the show at the end of this semester. Next year, we are planning to slow down and extend the production timeline over two semesters, similarly to how we worked on SIX.”
After experiencing the joy of collaborating with a vibrant and diverse community, Aleksandra shares her advice for anyone looking to start a SI at Minerva: “Find one or two peers who share your passion and are excited about extending it to the wider community. A small group can easily share this enthusiasm with more people, which we experienced with the growing interest brought about by SIX and the Musical Review. Clear expectations and good organization are also helpful in planting the seed of interest in your classmates’ minds.”
If Aleksandra's ideas and ambition inspire you to further pursue your passions, start your Minerva application today.