Find The Right Stage
Baker Duncan Scholar feels at home in both theater, business at Trinity
Friday, October 15, 2021
Trinity University actors on stage

From an early age, Scarlett Patiño ’23 knew her heart was on the stage.

“I fell in love with the community of the theater in middle school and high school,” she says. “There’s nothing like having a group of people who come together to put on a production.”

When Patiño, as a student at Southwest High School in Atascosa, Texas (just southwest of San Antonio), discovered that Trinity had an outstanding theatre program, she was intrigued. But when she found out the theatre department also offered the Baker Duncan Scholarship, she knew Trinity was the place she wanted to be.

Scarlett Patiño ‘23 holds tiger pride banner

Baker Duncan Theatre Scholarships are competitive, merit-based, and renewable scholarships awarded to incoming first-year students who are interested in all aspects of theater, including performance, directing, design, theater management, technical theater, and theater scholarship. Recipients are required to be part of a main stage production every semester at Trinity.

“You have to audition for the scholarship—I did a couple monologues for mine, but this is about more than acting,” says Patiño, a theatre and business double major. “I eventually want to be a professional stage manager when I graduate, and Trinity is the perfect place to prepare me for that career.”

This scholarship has opened up Trinity’s rich theater communities up to Patiño. And yes, that’s communities, plural.

“There’s actually an entire practice of student-run theater here at Trinity, outside of the classroom,” says Patiño, who is currently the president of Trinity University Players (TUPS), a theater club run by students from all corners of the University that offers opportunities in acting, writing, directing, and tech training, all in a fun, informal setting. “You’re going to have computer science people, biology people, chemistry people, they’re there acting, and directing, or working on costumes and props.”

Scarlett Patiño ‘23 at the Witt Center

And in the classroom, Trinity’s Department of Human Communication and Theatre, which offers both a bachelor’s degree in theatre and a minor in theatre, offers students such as Patiño a focused yet flexible experience. 

“There are going to be basic classes you need to get the theatre major, like any major,” Patiño says. “But as you take more and more courses, and find out which professors you like best, there’s a lot of flexibility in charting your path through upper division hours, where you can pick the professors whose style you like.”

That personalization helps majors prepare for a wide array of theater-related careers.

“You’re going to graduate with classes based around experience in the areas that you want,” she says. “For me, I know I want to go into stage management, so I haven’t taken as many acting classes, but for another student, their interest might be in playwriting. We’re both going to take classes together, but we’re preparing for different things.”

Patiño says that Trinity’s approach to the liberal arts means that theatre majors can also expect to draw on a wide range of skills learned from other departments in their classes.

In addition to the theatre major, Patiño is also working towards a bachelor’s degree in business in Trinity’s Michael Neidorff School of Business, and is considering a specific concentration in management. 

“In my business classes, I’m learning ethics, business law, and management, and that all easily transfers to the world of stage production,” Patiño says. “When you learn how to work with a hierarchy of people, you have to learn how to deal with conflicts, and how to assign work. One of the biggest things I’ve taken from business is that lots of good things can be learned from confrontation. All this prepares me for how productions run in the world of stage management.”

And in between business classes and theater productions, Patiño has even found time to try her hand at entrepreneurship, joining a startup in Trinity’s Stumberg New Venture Competition. That company, New Works SA, is a fledgling nonprofit theatrical education program designed to make theater accessible in areas where the arts are underserved. Patiño met two of the original founders, Wren Ramos ’22, and Anthony Tresca ’21, as part of a TUPS production.

Scarlett Patiño ‘23 portrait landscape format

Patiño has chosen to focus on her studies and is no longer part of the startup, saying that “I don’t have the entrepreneurship bug, but I still appreciate Trinity letting me explore that world.”

Regardless of which interests stick with her, Patiño says this type of exploration is a great example of why Trinity is the right stage for her.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to work with both my majors, because If I had a day of only theater, or only business, I would go insane,” she says. “And while it’s cool to be able to pick my own path, in a way, it’s also comforting to know I’m not the only one forging that path. There’s a whole community of people beside me.”

Patiño urges future theater students—and especially Baker Duncan scholarship applicants—to consider that community when applying to Trinity.

“Put aside your fears of having a big, scary audition,” Patiño says. “The opportunities are going to outweigh being nervous for an hour. And at the end, you’re going to have friends who are in the same boat.”


Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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