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Our daughter the performer

Coming to college is a difficult decision for many. Deciding what to study while here can be even harder. For some, there are plenty of outside pressures weighing on them to decide what they will study. This is especially true for sophomore acting and business and technology administration major Shubhangi Kuchibotla.

“I am so glad I have my dad to help,” said Kuchibotla. Coming from an Indian background, her parents were not so quick to warm to her decision of becoming an actress.

She knew she wanted to be an actress since she was a little girl, so when it came time to decide on a college, she voiced her desire to go to acting school. Her parents were not thrilled initially.

“They just thought it was very dangerous and they constantly viewed it as a hobby, not as an actual career,” said Kuchibolta.

After sitting down with her parents and telling them how passionate she was, Kuchibolta finally got her dad on board. He decided to help his daughter by researching how to be successful and even tried to get her an agent. Her mother, however, was not as encouraging.

They compromised but with conditions: the college she attended had to be in Maryland and had to be either the University of Maryland, UMBC or St. Mary’s. On top of that, the aspiring actress had to have another major.

“She always told me to be a doctor and I think it’s because she got a degree in college that was not very useful here so she was telling me and my brother that she had wished someone told her to be a doctor when she was in school,” said Kuchibotla.

The cultural pressure is something that has dissipated for her, but is still something hard for her mother to look past, especially in social circles.

“Sometimes my mom will hear about her friends’ kids on the pre-med track and she’ll say that I’m an acting and business technology administration major,” said Kuchibolta. “I think she’s accepting the acting part more as time goes on.”

She mentioned how business was a perfectly fine career path, but it simply was not her passion.

“I could go and be a corporate executive and that would be really cool, but at the end of the day, I would be really disappointed if I was a businesswoman and not an actress,” said Kuchibolta.

Kuchibotla also touched on the fact that because the arts are not as highly regarded as the sciences in her family, they think that taking such classes and pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting is easy. However, there is an application process that one must undergo to be invited into the program. This application includes an essay on why one should be chosen after which faculty deliberate on the student.

On the arts program here, Kuchibotla said it was a “good stepping stone” for artists and that “the department has the potential to be great.”

Although she was not blindly obedient, she did work with her parents to allow them to let her pursue her dreams. For others in a similar position, she gives out this advice: “there’s no point in being straight up rebellious, so just give them time, make it a team effort — once my dad became Team Shubhangi, it got so much easier — and always work hard.”

She plans to take a gap year after graduation in 2018 when she will move to London and pursue theatre there.