Students Turn Dreams Into Reality


photo courtesy of alex cataudella

hannah reussner and rosemary newsome, reporters

Backstage in the wings, she hears her name being introduced. She’s on. It’s time. Senior Alena Ivanov thrives in the spotlight. With each comedy act she performs, she furthers the realization that being a comedian is her dream occupation.

Whether a person’s dream is a physical feat or intangible state of mind, people naturally seek to acquire success, but realistically face obstacles. However, many driven and brave Free State students overcome interferences and emerge victorious.

“I think if you work hard enough you can do what you really  love, no matter what,” Ivanov said. “You have to work hard and care about it a lot. And find a way to do it through reality.”

Ivanov understands her goals–television time does not equate to instant stardom. However, her goal is not to become a celebrity.

Ivanov simply wants to enjoy her passion.

“As far as stand-up goes, I think it’s completely feasible to be, at least, fairly successful,” she said. The people I’ve met, they’ve been on TV, but they’re not like famous. But they live sustainable lifestyles.”

Ivanov is well on her way to reaching her goals.

“It’s not like you just wake up one day and you’re a stand up comedian. There’s steps you have to take.”

In fact, Ivanov’s preparation for the future has already begun. She does open mics at bars in Kansas City, where she is often asked to return after her stellar performances. She now gets paid to do stand-up, standing out from an age group that traditionally earns its income working in the grocery aisle.

Freshman violinist Jared Schoeneberg doesn’t get paid for his performances with the Free State Freshman Orchestra, but he has spent many grueling hours plucking at the strings of his violin.  However, the long hours don’t overpower him in his road, as Schoeneberg frequently performs at concerts and even has an idea for the future.

“I actually want to be a violin teacher,” Schoeneberg said.

Schoeneberg emphasizes to not let problems interfere with something that is really important. Always find another solution.

“Don’t quit orchestra because you can always get harder songs,” Schoeneberg said, “and it’s really fun to just practice and learn more how to play instruments.”

Though many students are quick to express their boredom during the school day with a wide yawn, Schoneberg demonstrates that Free State can be a medium for artistic expression, in music and beyond.

Senior Raul Cody, a passionate tumbler, has found his creative niche as the only male on the cheer squad–and no one could claim boredom when he flips on the gym floor. As far as the flack he receives for his choice of expression, Cody shrugs it off. His hobby and cheer “sisters” outweigh any negative responses.

“I love them all,” Cody said. “They’re all very special to me. They’re all my ladies and it’s like having 19+ sisters.”

Cody’s uniqueness asserts that there is a lesson to be learned from his individuality.

“Do what you want to do and don’t let anything hinder that,” Cody said. “Any compromising feelings or stereotypes…stop you from doing something you actually have a passion for doing, for whatever reason.”

Just as Cody sticks out for his gender, freshman Samantha Farb defies stereotypes regarding the ignorance of modern youth by getting involved in state politics. Farb’s love for the environment has led her to sue the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, for not upholding the Clear Air Act.
Her affection for the environment did not start with the governor’s actions; rather, it has been cultivated by her family and way of life for years.

“I’m vegan, so [my family and I have] always talked about sustainable ways of living and what we can do to help the environment,” Farb said. “. . . [W]e were always really compassionate about the earth.”

Farb’s said her intentions have occasionally been misjudged, as online comments on news sites have raised concern over the validity of her beliefs and reasons due to the stereotyped ignorance of her age.

“They think my parents are forcing me to do this,” Farb said, “and it’s not my choice, and someone at this age should not be interested in this stuff.”

Such comments have only confirmed her belief in what’s right, teaching her not to let intimidations inhibit her dedication towards protecting the environment.

“I’m doing what I care about,” Farb said.

Farb’s emphasis on the value of persistence resonates in Junior TJ Everett’s tale of resilience.
After combating a fatal bike crash and a trip to the emergency room, Everett’s restoration process took several months, including plastic surgery and boring weeks spent on the couch with uncomfortable metal pieces holding together the bones in his face. His recovery altered his views of the importance of everyday life, realizing he couldn’t take things for granted.

“It definitely impacted how I spent my time and it made me think a lot about what impact I have on people lives,” Everett said. “People were worried… and [I] realized how many people care about you when that happens.”

Unfortunately Junior Alex Cataudella is very acquainted with the idea of not taking things for granted, as her dad passed away when she was seven years old. When she turned sixteen, Cataudella got a tattoo of her father’s initials and a memorable picture she drew when she was little on her back between her two shoulder blades.

“When I see it, it does [remind me of him],” Cataudella said. “It makes me feel proud and It’s a good way to remember him.”

Although her dad is no longer with her, the tattoo serves as a powerful remembrance of his legacy. As a word of advice to anyone else who is coping with the loss of a loved one, Cataudella expresses that it is important to not hide any feelings inside during this difficult time.

“I would say that you need to communicate with your family what’s going on with you and keep close with them,” Cataudella said.

From Cataudella to Everett and Farb to Cody, the bonds between family and friends serve as a springboard from which dreams can materialize and onto which faltering steps can bounce back.
Ten years into the future, perhaps Ivanov will be on television. Perhaps Schoeneberg will be teaching students in the art of stringed instruments. Perhaps Farb will be ensuring that the Clean Air Act is enforced in Kansas.

But wherever their inspiration strikes, these students will always have some roots at 4700 Overland Drive.

Epictetus once said,“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.”

Whether the pursued achievement is a physical feat or intangible state of mind, students seek to acquire success. The troubles these students face is balancing their inspirations and motivating goals with the harsh hindrances of reality.

However, Free State students prove that obstacles can turn out to be a blessing in disguise; teaching unforeseen lessons and making the achievement even sweeter.