Dr. Heather Hamilton has been with Minnesota State University, Mankato for ten years now. She is known as the Empress of Graduate Studies, performance area head and a favorite professor among students in the theatre department. It is Hamilton’s experience and knowledge, but mainly her kind heart that helps her stand out at this university.
Hamilton was a professional actress for ten years, on and off throughout the years. During that time, she also got her doctorate degree in drama with a focus on history and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied alongside people like Jody Enders and Robert Potter, in a “really, really, really great program,” she insisted.
“It was really fun being a professional actress but I did not like having to feel like I had to beat out other women to roles,” she said. “There was something that was so self-centered about having to market myself. Plus, I wanted a dog. You can’t have a dog as a professional actor.”
After those ten years of not being able to have a dog, she decided it was time for a change. She moved here to Mankato, Minnesota to become a professor, where she now has several pets, a husband and a daughter.
Hamilton became a professor because she wanted to do something that mattered. She wanted to take all of the knowledge she had been given and share it with students who were hoping to do exactly what she had done for ten years of her life.
When asked what her favorite part about her job was, she answered her students of course.
“It’s just them—I love them,” she said. “Teaching allows me to do all the things in theatre that I love. It allows me to nurture rather than compete. Nothing is more challenging than this, and therefore nothing is more rewarding. As an educator, you’re responsible for all of these beautiful fragile people and cultivating them as artists and members of a peaceful society. Learning about who they want to be. That is so much harder and so much more interesting.”
Hamilton is also a director here at the university theatre. She directs two brilliant plays each school year. This year, those plays are “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which opened on November 2nd, and “1984,” which will open in February. The students love working with her as a director because she always does things differently and each time it is an incredible experience.
Outside of being a professor and director, Hamilton claims to have many “dorky” hobbies; Dungeons and Dragons being at the top of the list.
Hamilton was really open in sharing her views on her work here at the university:
“I feel really lucky to be working at a place with such amazing people,” she said. “I have friends who are professors in other departments and they’re so amazing and they love their students. No one in this building sleeps because of how much we love our students and seeing them grow. It’s just really cool to see them become themselves over time.”