Last spring, Elgin Community College student Olivia Opalinski of Carpentersville decided to try something new. She auditioned for the ECC Theatre Department’s production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” having little experience with the performing arts or being onstage. “When I tried out for the spring play, I went in with the mentality that I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t make it,” said Opalinski. “I just wanted to try something new, and if it worked out, it was meant to be. I’m so happy I took that risk.”
After her audition, Opalinski joined the cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and gained an experience that opened her up to a whole new world. “I just loved how involved everyone was in the production,” she said. “I got the chance to work with an amazing, diverse group of individuals. When it ended, the feeling I got knowing I was a part of putting on this huge production was incredible.”
This feeling encouraged Opalinski to audition for the ECC Theatre Department’s fall play, “I and You,” by Lauren Gunderson, a two-person play running from November 10 through 19. Cast as an understudy, Opalinski will get the opportunity to take the stage for the Friday, November 17 performance.
Not only is Opalinski an ECC student, but she is also a dual-credit student completing her senior year at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Ill. She became a full-time dual credit student at the start of her junior year of high school, seeking a challenge beyond the advanced placement and honors courses provided at the high school level. This past year, Opalinski challenged herself further, taking on the role of president of the Performing Arts Club (PAC).
“‘I and You’ has required a lot of dedication because it’s only a two-person show. It’s taken a lot of practice and patience, which has been challenging, but it’s all about finding that balance,” said Opalinski. “That is why I love the freedom dual credit has provided me compared to high school. I definitely can struggle with time management, but being at the college level and choosing my class times has given me that leniency that’s allowed me to explore and find myself in performing arts.”
Because of her success at ECC, Opalinski feels more confident about being a college student elsewhere. “I’ve been able to show myself that I can do this.” In the spring of 2024, Opalinski will complete her Associate of Arts degree and earn her high school diploma. As for what’s next, she’s setting her sights on communication and public relations, building her skills as she continues to shine in performing arts here at ECC.