Aiming for a life on stage
WAUSAU Kelsey Alwin was shopping at Pick ’n Save when she got word on her smartphone that she was accepted to New York University, the prestigious school in Manhattan.

“I was just by myself when I saw the message, and I thought, OK, this is it,” she said.

It would be hard to exaggerate how much Kelsey, 18, a senior at Wausau West High School, wants to go to NYU. She is aiming for a career in musical theater, and NYU’s program is world renowned and, of course, New York City is the center for the American theater industry.
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Kelsey Alwin

Age: 18
Residence: Wausau
School: Wausau West High School
Parents: Joyce Alwin and Dr. Sean Alwin
College Plans: Will attend New York University to study theater.
Hobbies: Enjoys playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with friends in her free time.

“Theater has always been a part of my life,” she said. Her father, an emergency room doctor who lives in Fort Atkinson, is a fan of the theater, and he has taken Kelsey to shows for almost as long as she can remember.

So it was natural that she would want to get on stage herself. She has been in several shows, including “Into the Woods,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and a community theater production of “1940s Radio Hour” in Fort Atkinson, in which she shared the stage with her father, who also likes to act.

She loves performing, but even more important to her is the impact that live theater can have on an audience. Kelsey has felt it when she has watched plays; she wants to be a part of the creation process as well. She hopes to be an actress, “as long as I can afford to put a roof over my head.”

But she also plans to pursue writing and directing at NYU.

Kelsey looked at other college options. She was seriously considering going to the University of Chicago. But NYU felt right to her when she visited the campus, and she loves New York as a city.

Kelsey understands how difficult a career in acting and theater can be. But she has been through tough times before, and has found a way to come through it with a 4.0 grade point average and a heavy extracurricular schedule that includes acting, volunteering, track and field and participating in Student Council.

“Kelsey has always been an excellent student and citizen at Wausau West,” said Jeb Steckbauer, school principal. “She has achieved these goals despite dealing with a very serious health condition. Kelsey suffers from an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. Though she had to miss out on many opportunities during her career as a result, she has been extremely successful in not allowing it to interfere with her academic success. She has never let it be an excuse — she battles like a champion.”

Anorexia is an ongoing battle, Kelsey said, but she’s focused on staying healthy and strong as she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

It was in that context that she found out that she was accepted to NYU. “I think I might have screamed a little bit,” she said, laughing. “I was crying. I called my mom, and she first thought I had gotten into a car accident. ... It was the best feeling.”

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