David Duwell ’90 (English) had his future laid out for him. He was going to get his diploma from New Holstein High School and run the family farm in his small hometown of Johnsburg, Wis. At least until a caring teacher and an older sister proposed a different path — college.
UW-Green Bay became his college of choice. “It was a nice transition for me,” Duwell said. “My hometown had a population of less than 500. To me, Green Bay was a big city.”
He successfully progressed through the English program, but most of his true interest was discovered in the University’s Theatre program, although he said he was skeptical that he could earn a living in the field… that was until UW-Green Bay faculty members encouraged him enough to think, “maybe I can.”
“I had some great professors and instructors while at UW-Green Bay,” Duwell said. “The personal and professional relationships I created there gave me the courage to give New York City a try.”
“I moved on to Brooklyn College and New York City.” But in December of 1999, he felt the tug of his Midwest roots.
He accepted a position at Chicago Scenic, a design and fabrication studio for Chicago’s up-and-coming theater community. He has been there ever since, doing what he loves and helping to create sets for shows like “Jersey Boys,” “Book of Mormon,” and “Kinky Boots.”
“We create cool stuff,” he said. “What we do makes people happy.”
His advice for students is to keep an open mind and to meet new people, but do not feel like you have to commit to a career without being ready.
“When I went to college, I felt pressure to know what I was going to do. That’s a mistake,” he said. “I never thought I’d live in a big city and I was sure I was taking over the family farm until I was almost 18. Explore your options.”
Story by Marketing and University Communication Intern Amanda Rice.