Katya Wagstaff



I love the performing arts and community outreach. The benefits of being involved in the performing arts (including developing confidence, talent and creativity) shouldn’t be restricted only to individuals in higher socioeconomic classes with lots of discretionary income. Everyone should have opportunities, especially children.

My roommate is a piano performance major and during our freshman year, she was a volunteer in the Piano Outreach Program. I didn’t know a lot about it, but it sounded interesting. Fast forward to last semester when I was heavily involved in researching how to overcome socioeconomic boundaries in extracurricular arts programs. One night I was in a rut with my research, so I talked through it with this same roommate. She reminded me of the Piano Outreach Program.

It ended up not fitting in my research project that semester, but I was determined to learn more about it.

At the beginning of this semester, Professor Mangun asked each of us to think about a topic to explore for our enterprise story. I immediately thought about the Piano Outreach Program. I finally get to learn more about it!

One of my sources, Mio Cowden, the coordinator of the Piano Outreach Program, has been a tremendous help. She is very passionate about the program and its effect on students. Although she is very busy with administrative and teaching duties, she took time to answer all my emails and meet in person to chat. She has also been the key to finding other sources willing to share their experiences and insights as teachers in the program.

Another benefit of meeting Mio was getting to practice my Japanese again! She was born in Japan and I lived there for a while, but don’t get many chances to speak anymore. Part of the interview was Japanese (especially when she got excited) and the rest in English. Though all of the quotes in the story are her words, not a translation.

While thinking about a focus for this story, I was interested in how the Piano Outreach Program helps refugees and other lower socioeconomic class students. However, when talking to my sources, I heard a unified message: Who cares about their background? Music unites students because during this time, labels fall away and they are just children learning music.

headshot ABOUT ME:

 Musical theater holds my heart.

I grew up singing, dancing, acting and keeping my sights set on Broadway. Along the way, I loved thinking and writing about shows. At the University of Utah, I started as a musical theater major, then made my way to the Department of Communication because I love strategizing and writing. I now major in communication with an emphasis in strategic communication and a minor in theater.

In a world where the arts can make a significant impact but get rampantly cut from budgets, I want to persuade decision-makers to understand the importance of arts and make opportunities available to everyone, particularly young students, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Someday I dream of being a marketing/communications director for a fine arts organization, preferably a theater company!