While coaching Odyssey students, theater professor wins major award

Professor Baron with students doing acting exercise

In the middle of coaching Odyssey students for their graduation videos, Professor Baron Kelly got a call that left him in tears, overwhelmed: He had just been selected for the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Baron is being “recognized for his outstanding contributions in the field acting, teaching, and scholarship — with an emphasis on his international achievements.”

“Slow down! Own those beautiful words of yours! Let’s do it again — take two!” Cell phones, toddlers, doorbells, background noises, Wi-Fi glitches and even early labor contractions interrupted the recording sessions, but that didn’t stop Baron from bringing out the powerful voices of over 30 graduating students. Calvin became increasingly confident as he read his “I have a dream” poem about “a world where there’s not more fathers in cells than in homes, no more childhoods so bad we dream to be grown.”

Now Calvin attends Baron’s summer acting course, part of our Onward Odyssey program. He wrote in his application,

My dreams were deferred, and I became a shell of myself, lifeless and hopeless. The Odyssey Program helped me re-realize my dreams and decide that settling for anything else is unacceptable. With George Floyd’s death, I saw myself metaphorically lying on the ground, hands cuffed behind my back and Derrick Chauvin’s knee on my neck as I gasped for air. I’ve decided to take my life from under that knee and pursue my happiness and freedom, to do the things that matter most to me: time with family, expression through art, work in the community, and guidance to the youth. I see this acting class as an excellent opportunity to get back the light I lost when I stopped dreaming.

You can help cover tuition, books and materials for Calvin and hundreds of other Odyssey students by making a donation today. Thank you!

Support the Odyssey Project Fund