Inside the Voices podcast with Amanda Stubbert
A conversation with Amanda Stubbert about the podcast
Amanda Stubbert: I’m Amanda Stubbert.
Kyle Brown: And I’m Kyle Brown.
Amanda Stubbert: And we’re here to use our Inside Voices.
Kyle Brown: Inside Voices.
Amanda Stubbert: When we started the SPU Voices Podcast, we wanted to tell personal stories with universal impact from our amazing alumni. And we realized we had some other stories right here under our noses on campus: stories of students, of staff, of guest speakers, and we wanted to tell those stories in a shorter form during the middle of the month.
Kyle Brown: For our very first Inside Voices, we will be switching roles and instead of having Amanda doing the interviewing, we will be interviewing Amanda. Amanda is a graduate of SPU from 1995 and has been the alumni director for about a year. And we’re going to start with how she came to SPU.
Amanda Stubbert: I love to tell that story. I went my first year to another school and found out immediately that that was not the school for me. I did not do what Admissions tells you to do, which is go and visit the schools and check out everything you possibly can about it. Didn’t do that at all. Just showed up the first day of orientation, and by about week three, realized I had made a bad choice for myself.
Amanda Stubbert: So at the end of my freshman year, I was looking to transfer and visited a friend that I had gone to high school with that was here at SPU. And after one weekend, fell in love with the community, with the professors, auditioned for a scholarship, and that was it. It was all SPU, all the time.
Amanda Stubbert: So my sister, who’s a year ahead of me, and I both transferred into SPU at the same time. I ended up getting two degrees, psychology and theater at the same time. And being able to do that as a transfer student and still finish almost on time. I had to do five credits extra one extra quarter, but other than that, finish two degrees on time. And I love that about SPU: That it’s big enough to have these amazing opportunities and fabulous professors, but small enough that you can be seen as your own person and actually try and get what you want out of the experience.
“And I love that about SPU: That it’s big enough to have these amazing opportunities and fabulous professors, but small enough that you can be seen as your own person and actually try and get what you want out of the experience.”
Kyle Brown: Is there someone specific on campus who made an impact for you?
Amanda Stubbert: So many. I feel like it’s an acceptance speech where I feel like I’m going to leave someone out versus trying to think of a name. I had a mentor in the Psychology Department, Dr. Michael Rowe, who I know a lot of people have had him as a professor over the years. He was a major mentor for me, and I still think back to lessons he taught me and books he pointed me to during my time here.
Amanda Stubbert: In the theater department, pretty much everyone who worked in a theater department while I was here, James Chapman, and George Scranton, and Don Yanik, and everyone I worked with just became like family. My husband and I had our wedding reception at George Scranton’s house. Most of my life mottos that I use on a day-to-day basis, I got from Don Yanik. And then Jim Chapman is the one who really encouraged me to try and be artist, to just give it a shot. Even if I didn’t want to be an actor for the rest of my life, to take what I had and take it as far as I could, as long as I could, and I just will cherish that for the rest of my life.
Kyle Brown: So I know that you took that to heart right after you graduated from SPU. Can you tell me what you did for the few years after you graduated?
Amanda Stubbert: Yes. I had this idea that I was going to use my psychology degree to have my day-to-day, 9-to-5 job and then I was going to use acting as something fun that I did on the side, maybe community theater. But I realized quite quickly that a bachelor’s degree in psychology doesn’t mean you can go get a job in psychology. It means you can get many jobs. It’s helpful in a lot of ways. But you can’t go be a counselor with a bachelor’s degree; you need a master’s. And a lot of the things I wanted to do, I wasn’t quite equipped for yet.
Amanda Stubbert: So I decided why not be an actor while I had the chance before I had kids and the whole shebang that would just make it a little bit more difficult. So before I even graduated, I auditioned for Jet City Improv, an improv team theater right here in town. And I got that job, and I was the only female on the team for quite a while. And they were down in Georgetown, when Georgetown was not hip and happening, not quite yet. So that was a fun experience, and I would go down there and do late night comedy improv. Yeah, so that was a really fun experience.
Amanda Stubbert: And then like most actors in Seattle, I did everything that I could do. I taught classes for Taproot Theater. For a while, I managed the costume shop for Taproot. I did film and TV and voiceover and ended up doing comedy improv, sometimes even after a show that I had been in later that night. So there were weekends where I was doing improv for Taproot, and then I would drive downtown the next day and do improv for Jet City. So I was very busy.
Kyle Brown: How do you think that that experience influences how you do your work now?
Amanda Stubbert: I think it influences every decision I make, literally. I have often said, I think everyone should have to take improv. Everyone. I think it should be in elementary school and junior high, the way you have to take PE. Because there is something about getting over the nerves of “I’m on the spot and I don’t actually know what I’m going to say.” That is something that happens to all of us every day of our lives.
Amanda Stubbert: There are moments where we need that skill and even more now with this era of online and being able to communicate through a screen and through typing and not having to talk face to face. I know my own children, who are 17 and 19, struggle with that live communication and anxiety with that as do a lot of our upcoming generation. And I think improv is an invaluable skill that helps everyone, all the time, no matter what they’re going to do, even if they’re never ever going to step on a stage and perform for an audience.
“There are moments where we need that skill and even more now with this era of online and being able to communicate through a screen and through typing and not having to talk face to face.”
Kyle Brown: So you took some time away from campus. What brought you back?
Amanda Stubbert: Yes, I took quite a bit of time away from campus, but I came back for the 50th anniversary of the theater program. They did a production of Our Town and they cast all the parts age-appropriately. So pretty much if you went to high school, you’ve probably seen an Our Town production and you end up with either older people playing kids or you end up with kids playing all the roles. But they used alumni, called them back to campus, and cast students … and pretty much cast everyone from the older folks all the way down to the teenagers between students and alumni, actually someone who was that age. And so that was just a fun, kind of coming-home moment.
Amanda Stubbert: And I met some SPU alums who I’d never met before and got to work with, which was really fun. And then I met a lot of students and had a really good time doing that. So while I was doing that production, I also met some alums who worked here, and during the course of those rehearsals, had a lot of great conversations with them. And really it was that moment that planted the seeds of maybe that’s my next career move. Maybe it’s time to kind of come home and work at SPU.
Kyle Brown: Tell us about your time at SPU. I know you haven’t been in this role the whole time.
Amanda Stubbert: That is correct. I first came back to Admissions, and I loved every minute of that. I worked as the assistant director for Undergraduate Admissions, and I did visits and events. So I had about 20 people, staff members and students, that worked under my umbrella. It was the front desk, all the visits, tour guides, every event put on by Admissions and then some.
Amanda Stubbert: So it was a lot of work. I like to describe it as a fire hose. It’s just coming at you nonstop, but it was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with in my life. I made lifelong friends working in Admissions and it’s so incredible. I think it was the psychology background, the counselor background rising up in me.
Amanda Stubbert: Being a part of families’ once-in-a-lifetime decision, being a part of the decisions that are really going to change the trajectory of that family and that student’s life, whatever decision it is that they make. especially having lived that experience of making a very bad decision and having to kind of backtrack. So I loved being a part of that.
Amanda Stubbert: However, it is nonstop. It is a fire hose that goes 24/7, and I was working a lot of hours and there’s a lot of stress that’s involved in that because perfect is good enough and anything less is not good enough. It’s the nature of the work. So with two teenagers and a mom and a grandmother who were having some health issues at home, I just decided I can’t keep that fire hose going anymore.
Amanda Stubbert: And lo and behold, a member of the Alumni staff, Linda Nolte, who’d been in the role for almost 10 years and is known and loved by so many of our community, was retiring. And I thought, “OK. Well, maybe I can stay here, but in a slightly, slightly less stressful role.” So I moved down to the Alumni side and have loved it ever since.
Kyle Brown: Tell me about the best event you’ve put on at SPU.
Amanda Stubbert: That is a very difficult question. There are so many. I think of the Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert at Benaroya Hall and having Stephen Newby be one of the readers and reading a little piece of the Christmas story. And having a sold-out crowd at Benaroya Hall cheer and rise to their feet and give a standing ovation to our students doing a beautiful job. Not just a beautiful job of singing, but of praising the Lord. So there are moments like that.
Amanda Stubbert: At the Downtown Business Breakfast, I remember standing in a circle with some of our honorees, Tim [Hamstead] , a Nobel Prize nominee that was our “Alum of the Year” standing next to the author Nicholas Kristof, who was the speaker that day, and some other folks who I know and love, and love everything about who they are and what they’ve done. Megan Chao, who started an orphanage in Rwanda while she was still a student here at SPU. And I’m standing in this circle of folks thinking, “Oh my gosh, how am I here? Literally, how do I deserve to be standing in this physical space with these people?”
Amanda Stubbert: So there are moments like that that just kind of blow my mind, and the best part is those moments keep coming. They just keep coming around and coming around. Another one I’d have to mention is during our 125th Anniversary Grand Reunion, David Crowder and Tedashii came to put on a concert here at SPU and we filled the gym with students and alums and family. And introducing that concert and having 2,000 people cheering and and really excited to have this major band about to play was also a highlight for me.
Kyle Brown: Awesome. We’re glad to have you here. I will end with the question that you end with everyone else. If there was one thing that you could have all of Seattle start doing to make things better, what would that one thing be?
“Any time we can let go of some fear that we carry around every day in our lives, anything we can do to make those little moments in life a little bit easier and then save our courage and bravery for the real stuff, the better off we will all be.”
Amanda Stubbert: Well, since I said it already, I will say take an improv class, and if improv is just too scary, take an acting class, a public speaking class. Go find somebody who’s good at it and say, “Help me.” Any time we can let go of some fear that we carry around every day in our lives, anything we can do to make those little moments in life a little bit easier and then save our courage and bravery for the real stuff, the better off we will all be.
Kyle Brown: The world is a stage … and something else. Thanks so much.
Amanda Stubbert: We hoped you liked today’s interview and learned something along the way from Amanda and Kyle. We ask you to rate, review, and subscribe so we can keep bringing you these personal stories with universal impact. See you soon.