To celebrate Pride Month, Goddard College is pleased to highlight the stories from LGBTQ+ alumni, students, and faculty.
If you’d like to recommend or share a story for us to highlight from the Goddard College community, please contact email@example.com.
Howard Ashman, alum
Alums from Goddard College’s 1971 class remember Howard Ashman as “a beautiful soul”, a vibrant theater undergrad who would spontaneously erupt in song in the College’s dining hall- Broadway show tunes at full voice.
This was at eight o’clock in the morning.
“We knew the lyrics to a hundred Broadway musicals.” recalls friend Susan Rowley (BA RUP ’70), “My favorite memory of him was singing full scores at breakfast. He invented all new lyrics as we moved along. It was always obvious that he was a star.”
This enthusiastic early riser was Howard Ashman, future Grammy and Oscar-winning lyricist for Disney. It was Howard who had the carnivorous plant Audrey II beg for blood in Little Shop of Horrors. He lifted Ariel’s voice above the surface in The Little Mermaid, invited everyone to “be our guest” in Beauty and the Beast, and welcomed Prince Ali to the royal court in Aladdin.
Caroline Catlin, student
One year before she became an MFA student at Goddard College, Caroline Catlin had her writing published in The New York Times. For many writers, this would be a capstone achievement.
But for Catlin, it was the foundation of her Goddard learning journey.
In the article, titled What I Learned Photographing Death, she wrote about being misdiagnosed and dismissed by doctors for three years. The results of a long-requested MRI revealed something about her chronic aches and pains that would change everything in her world.
“My story took a turn — the plans I had to become a social worker or a photojournalist were replaced with a list of treatments for grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma brain cancer: six weeks of daily radiation, six months to a year of chemo, possibly another craniotomy. Within a month, the hair on the right side of my head fell out, leaving a bald spot next to my c-shaped scar. I’m 27. The type of cancer I have is incurable.”
Mike Alvarez, alum
Two-time Goddard graduate Mike Alvarez (IMA ’10, MFAW ’13) was awarded the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The fellowship honors and supports young New Americans – immigrants and children of immigrants—to use their graduate training in this country to make distinctive contributions to American life.
“Suicide is such a taboo subject,” says Mike, “and to be selected as one of thirty Fellows, in a national competition that drew in more than 1,200 applicants, is to me a meaningful validation of the urgency of my work.”
Fran Sillau, alum
Fran Sillau graduated from Goddard College’s MFA in Interdisciplinary Art program in 2016. He came to Goddard with experience as a professional teaching artist.
“I was on that teaching artist grind,” he said, “going into schools five days a week, teaching Saturday morning classes, working twelve hours a day just being a teaching artist integrating arts into the math, science, English, and history curriculum.”
His goal for graduate study was to become an arts administrator, running his own company. This interview focuses on his work with Circle Theater, where he has served as Artistic Director since receiving his MFA degree.
Fran says, “Our mission promotes the inclusion of differently-abled individuals to view and participate in high quality theater in a barrier free environment. Differently-abled is a word that I learned at Goddard. I was using the word “disability.” Differently-abled is more inclusive because it embraces neurodiversity; it isn’t just about the physical or the way we look. I have cerebral palsy. I walk with crutches. I was thinking of disability from that lens, but my advisor, Rachael Van Fossen, broadened my perspective.”
H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, faculty
Faculty member H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, PhD, MEd, is a liberatory/decolonizing sociologist, cultural studies scholar, sex educator, playwright, director, poet, filmmaker, and author.
At Goddard, he co-founded the world’s first sexuality studies program dedicated to promoting decolonizing sexuality and challenging the whiteness and Eurocentricity of the field.
He is author of the book Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality, Volume I (Vintage Entity Press), holds a PhD and MA in human and organizational systems with a concentration in transformative learning for social justice and specializations in sexuality and cross-cultural studies of knowledge as well as a graduate degree in education and degrees in psychology and political science.