COLUMBUS, Ga. – From the stage to the ice, a pair of Columbus State University students took advantage of unanticipated opportunities during separate fall semester study abroad programs in England.
Melora Slotnick landed the lead role in an Edge Hill University theatrical production, while Charlotte Walker enjoyed her time on Oxford University’s women’s ice hockey team. They are among 100-150 top Columbus State students who each year take advantage of programs in about 20 countries through CSU’s Center for International Education.
When Columbus native Charlotte Walker, a political science major, signed up for Columbus State’s Oxford University program, she had no idea she would fulfill her dream of playing competitive ice hockey.
After arriving at Oxford, Walker attended Freshers’ Fair, a weeklong Oxford Student Union event involving about 450 clubs, teams, societies, charities and commercial stallholders. Walker thought the clubs were great, but she didn’t think she would be able to take time from her studies to participate in any of them — until she discovered a stall for Oxford University Ice Hockey Club and its women’s team, the Oxford Women’s Blues. She excitedly raced back to her dorm and “Skyped” her mom to “send my skates, pronto.”
“I decided that I would make time, no matter what,” she said.
Participating in a university-level sport for the first time, Walker trained with the team throughout her two and a half months at Oxford. As part of the British Universities Ice Hockey Association‘s Division 3, the Oxford Women’s Blues’ competition includes men’s teams.
Despite returning to Columbus prior to the regular season, Walker’s preseason with the squad included scrimmages against the Oxford Vikings, the university’s men’s “B” team.
“As far as I know, I am the only student from CSU to play a university-level sport (at Oxford),” she said. “This has been the most amazing college experience I have ever known, and it is an extreme honor to have trained, played and grown with some magnificent teammates.”
Walker began skating at age 5 at Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Ala. At 13, she got interested in hockey through her older brother. “My brother was into roller hockey, and I wanted to be just like him,” she said.
Last year, Walker participated on a CSU club sport hockey team coached briefly by former Columbus Cottonmouth Marcel Richard. “That was my first ice hockey experience,” she said. “But, we never had any games because we never had enough players.”
Walker returned to Columbus in December with her Women’s Blues hockey jersey, that she said she will probably wear until she’s 50. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and teach Constitutional law. But if another opportunity to play competitive ice hockey surfaces, she “would jump at it… It’s what I am passionate about.”
While Walker was training on the ice, about 140 miles away on the outskirts of Liverpool, Melora Slotnick was portraying Mary Henry in Edge Hill University’s production of Carnival of Souls.
Adapted from a 1960s horror film, the production centered on Slotnik’s character surviving a near-fatal accident and being haunted by a phantom that seemingly inhabits a run-down pavilion.
“The show was a success,” said Slotnick, a junior theatre education major from Jonesboro.
The opportunity also was unexpected.
“I received a flyer from one of the tutors about auditions, and I went just planning on having fun in a workshop-style audition,” said Slotnik.
She received a callback, then the lead role offer.
“I was ecstatic,” she said. “The rehearsal process was workshop-based and very beneficial for me as an artist.”
Slotnick said she and castmates explored the separation between the screen and stage by delving into aspects of physical theatre and various acting techniques, also experimenting with green screens and filmmaking. “It was a short process and a lot of work but an incredible experience.”
In addition to the production, Slotnick studied psychology, English literature, stage design, acting, directing and life drawing at Edge Hill.
She said she looks forward to incorporating her Edge Hill theatre experience into her CSU studies. For example, she plans to base her CSU Honors thesis on her stage design course project, “The Ideal Theatre of The Future,” at Edge Hill.
“I am very proud of the work that I have done here, and I am also proud that my prior studies prepared me for this semester abroad,” she said. “I definitely recommend Edge Hill to other students, especially those interested in studying theatre abroad.”
For more information on CSU’s growing study abroad program, visit http://cie.colstate.edu/studyabroadmain.asp. Current students should look for Center for International Education study abroad information tables around campus throughout the semester.
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