Rainbow Stakiwicz

Standing up for community governance 

On choosing Marlboro College

I went to a high school where I was just a number. It was big—like thousands of people and I didn’t matter at all. I don’t think any of the administrators could pick me out of a lineup. So I knew I wanted a small school because I wanted somewhere where I would matter. As soon as I came to Marlboro, I felt at home. I felt like everyone cared about me and cared about what I thought. And you know, this is a place where individuals truly are important. That’s why I came here.

On Academics at Marlboro

I love the academic model here because I get to work so closely with not only our amazing faculty but with peers—people who approach the artistic process in a totally different way than I do, and who approach their studies with a totally different spirit. So that is really helpful when you are studying about the human experience.

On empathy

I study theater and empathy, which is a lot of fun. I’m looking at a lot of different authors, like David Foster Wallace and a couple other philosophers, who said that “empathic practice” is truly spiritual and meaningful, and I’m comparing that to what an actor goes through when becoming a character. Building a character and acting is deeply empathetic and important and spiritual. It’s a great thing to study at Marlboro because you are surrounded by a lot of different people, a lot of diversity of spirit, and that lends itself to imaging them complexly.

On theater at Marlboro College

I’ve done a play or performance every semester since I’ve been at Marlboro. It’s a small theater community so there’s always room for people, which is really nice. I’ve worked with a lot of students who are on Plan and they go through their Plan production and it’s a big, emotional process that ties everyone together in the way that, you know, theater does. My own Plan will be a one-woman show that I will write and perform, a collection of monologues that I’ve written based off of testimony that I’ve gathered from people around the country.

On community governance

What happened for me was someone saw on Facebook that I like to talk about the issues a lot, not in a negative way but in a “huh, let’s examine what is happening at this school” way. So I was nominated as head selectperson pretty much out of the blue, and I campaigned and thought I wasn’t going to get it, and I did. I’ve found being a student leader is like defending what I call the “Marlboro Dream,” which is that when change takes place and when policy is reformed, everyone has a chance to touch it. That’s true democracy.

On social life at Marlboro

I was never a cool kid in high school, so I was really scared of the college experience—being kind of unconventional. But that’s what fits here at Marlboro, and I have felt very embraced by the community, by the students. It shocks me every day how many people are really open and loving here, and what I’ve found is there’s no recipe for social success other than just being nice to people. That may be true of everywhere in the world but especially at Marlboro. If you are nice and love your work, friends will come.

On advice for prospective students

Come to Marlboro! They say that college is the best four years of your life, and I think that’s a hideous cliché. I think life is what you make it, but if you come to Marlboro you have a truly unique experience in hand, something you may never have again, so every day make sure that the work you are doing is the work that is powerful to you because this is your chance. When else do you get to sit on a hill with other scholars and talk about things you love? Take advantage of it.