Q&A with Rachel Arbaugh, RC Event Coordinator/Costume Designer
This is the fifth in a series of the people who make Rochester College what it is. These employees serve behind the scenes, but are crucial to the operations of the college.
By Quamaine Morgan
Q: What is your official job position at Rochester College?
A: “Well… I have a few titles so you're going to need some extra space, but I’m the ‘Events Coordinator/Reservations/Costumer’ for the Theatre Department.”
Q: What brought you to the college?
A: “Rob was hired as the Technical Director so I started helping with costumes in 2011. From there, I was asked to direct 'Celebration' and Academic Services was hiring in 2013 so I worked for them. Then this job in events opened up. Since I had done event and wedding planning for so many years, that is where my heart was at so I applied and got it!”
Q: How long have you been working for the college?
A: “Officially 4 years but longer if you count costuming and directing.”
Q: If you had to explain your job to a friend what would you say?
A: “I’m the person who rents out space to outside renters so the school can make money. I’m also the person who gets to have fun planning or helping to plan events. I’m the one who gets yelled at for glittering the campus. I’m the person who gets to design costumes for all of the shows. So...I’m the person who doesn't sleep and I love every second of it!”
Q: What would you say is the most difficult part about your job?
A: “Having to tell people that they can't have the space they asked for. I always feel like the jerk that has to say no and since I'm a people pleaser, it's really hard for me. Our campus is so small and there are so many people having these great events, but they all want the same spaces. At some point, I have to be the bad guy and it's no fun.”
Q: What are some of your career goals?
A: “Honestly, I always wanted to be in a setting like this doing events so I am super happy here. My degree is in Theatre so I LOVE the fact that I get to work with our students doing that.”
“I never wanted to perform fulltime but I did always want to work in some aspect of theatre so mentoring students and costuming them is the best. I help run our theatre company and the school lets us have our Shakespeare Festival here so students get to work on that and gain experience. I love that we get to do that for them. I don't know what else I would want to do. God seriously gave me everything I wanted in my career when he brought us here.”
Q: Did you see yourself working for Rochester College before the position was offered?
A: “Not at all. I didn't even really know that the college existed. We had a friend who went here while we were attending school in Virginia so I knew a little about it but not much. We went to work professionally in Theatre and traveled around doing that, and then I got into Meadow Brook Theatre's Christmas Carol so I got brought back to Michigan while Rob was in Chicago doing a show. He was then offered a role in Michigan, bringing us both here. When we came back, all of these jobs opened up for us in Michigan. Rob was offered a Technical Director job at RC, a class at Oakland University and another role at Meadow Brook.”
“It was like God was telling us to stay here. Rob took the jobs and then like I said, I costumed, directed, worked for Academic Services and then now my current job. I was so grateful because immediately after we decided not to travel around as actors, my Dad had a stroke and I was here to help my mom take care of his rehabilitation. If we would have been touring around, she would have had to do that alone. God knew what he was doing bringing us back here.”
Q: How do you deal with stress that comes from your position at Rochester College?
A: “I don't...so now I take pills for High Blood pressure! Honestly, I try to take some time to be brain dead. I don't get a lot of free time so when I can, I binge watch TV and it really does help me shut my mind off.”
“More importantly though, I think if you love what you do, it makes the stressful times seem not so stressful. I've always thought that it was important to do what you love because you spend more time working than you do at home. I cannot imagine being in a job that you hate. Every time I feel stressed, God seems to send me a student who reminds me of why I'm here. I think our students are the best and I am so happy that I get to help mentor them into amazing human beings and talented artists.”
Q: Tell us about your greatest memory so far at RC?
A: “I have some many! Once, I was so stressed and my dad was still recovering from his stroke...I was directing 'Celebration' and costuming a huge spring show and I thought I was going to die from stress and lack of sleep. I came back up to my office to find a gift bag with chocolate, snacks and tea or something caffeinated and a thank you note from a student who just wanted to thank me for all that I was doing. She knew I was stressed and wanted to let me know that she appreciated all I was trying to juggle. It was such a simple gesture but I know how little money and time our students have, so the simple fact that she did that for me was so heart-warming. It made it all worth it.”