Oriana Miles, a Schenectady High School alumna and a 2017 NYU grad, hopes to move back to Schenectady next year to teach in her high school’s theater program.
Miles, who was accepted to NYU as a psychology major during her senior year of high school, started the process of transferring into NYU’s Educational Theatre Program after her high school theater teacher, Bill Ziskin, announced he was retiring.
Now, Miles will stay at NYU for a yearlong master’s program in Educational Theatre. She said qualities she embraced through her participation in Schenectady High School’s Blue Roses Theatre Company, such as generosity and humility, helped her succeed in college.
She also said Ziskin’s advice to “get known,” transformed the way she approached academics.
Ziskin, a theater teacher at Schenectady High School for more than 30 years, described Miles as someone who “understands the value of being part of something larger than herself.”
He said Miles’ return would be a "boon to the district,” and that he is happy she is interested in pursuing a teaching career in her hometown.
“We do oftentimes have former students come back to Schenectady to teach, and I hope Oriana has the opportunity to do the same," said Schenectady High School Principal Diane Wilkinson, adding that, despite budget cuts in the past, the school is looking to build the theater program again because of its benefits to both Schenectady students and the surrounding community.
Blue Roses Theatre Company helped Miles realize the importance of social justice. She now sees theater as a “catalyst for social change,” she said. In her undergraduate work at NYU, Miles used her interest in social justice to develop ideas for plays.