Year-End Giving

Gene Austyn's Story

I have big dreams for my career in musical theatre. After graduating from high school, I left Clanton to attend Jefferson State Community College. There, I was an ambassador who helped students register for classes and I hosted college events.

Gene Austyn Lucas

Gene Austyn Lucas

My plan was to attend The University of Alabama after graduating from Jefferson   State because I thought ‘the bigger the campus the bigger the potential for more opportunities.’

At the time, I was working at Dollar General and one of my regulars came in and told me he used to set up lighting on Broadway. He mentioned Carl Dean, who used to work at Montevallo, and then asked if I was going to UM. I said no, UA.

He said I needed to go to UM and that nothing would beat my experience there for musical theatre.

This piqued my interest. I did a virtual tour and then went to a UM theatre production. I watched the show, ‘Company,’ and was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I was blown away by the talent and versatility. I thought, ‘if these are the kind of shows they put on, I have to go here.’

I knew of the transfer scholarship at Montevallo from when I was at Jefferson State. I applied and received it, as well as a UM theatre scholarship. When I got to UM, I joined M.A.D.E. and received a scholarship from them as well.

I wouldn’t have stayed on campus my first year if I didn’t have scholarships. I have ADHD and getting to places on time is a real struggle for me. Living on campus has really helped me be successful. I give a big thank you to the donors for that, and for their help funding my studies in musical theatre.

Being at UM has cultivated my talent and customized it for me. If I hadn’t come here, I don’t think I would have earned the internship in the Hamptons that I had last year. My life is changed for the better because of it.

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