When Madeline (Norrell) Goans walks across the stage to accept her KWU degrees May 13, she will be the only graduate earning both a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre.
Her goal? To take what she has learned as a theatre and business major and motivate the students coming behind her.
“I want to inspire kids to go far,” Goans said. “I come from a small town. I wasn’t really inspired in high school to go out and do what I want to do. I want to be that inspiration for college kids and let them know, ‘Hey, you didn’t have that background but here are your possibilities for your future.’”
Originally from Chandler, Okla., Goans grew up on the stage, honing her skills as an actress starting as early as kindergarten.
Many roles would follow throughout her youth, allowing her to become a member of the Thespian Society. That led to her attending a thespian festival as a sophomore in high school, where she met Karen Babcock Brassea, KWU’s associate professor of Theatre Arts, director and choreographer.
“Madeline and I met at the Oklahoma Thespians Conference, and we simply hit it off,” Brassea said. “My memories of her participation in the acting workshop I offered at the conference are that of an inventive and energetic, yet focused, young actress, who was ready to go places. Those first impressions of her have not changed.”
Goans and Brassea connected again at the same festival the following year, only this time, Brassea was there to offer her the scholarship to come to Kansas Wesleyan.
“She had seen the work I had done,” Goans said. “I didn’t know anyone coming to Kansas Wesleyan, but having that connection (with Brassea), that loving, already accepting connection, I knew a small school was the way to go.”
Once on campus, Goans was working toward her business degree with just a minor in Theatre, but it was her advisor, Dr. Daniel Botz, KWU professor of Business and Accounting, who convinced her that, although it would take a lot of time and work on her part, double majoring was possible and she should take on the task.
Taking 20 hours a semester (she is also minoring in Communications), Goans became a mainstay on stage and backstage both at KWU and Theatre Salina. She was cast in numerous shows as an actress, dancer and stage manager.
She was also the cross country team manager for a year. And in the Philharmonic Choir. And on the Debate and Forensics Team, where she excelled despite having no previous experience in the medium.
“Madeline is a busy woman with well-honed organizational skills and healthy boundaries. She has had to develop these attributes to be successful as a double major in Theatre Arts and Business Management. In other words, she knows her limits,” Brassea said. “She communicates well with her instructors and those in authority in any activity in which she has consented to participate and is always all in when she says ‘yes’ to a project.”
After Goans accepts her diplomas from KWU, she will be off (virtually) to the University of Idaho, having been accepted into the MFA program for Theatre Pedagogy.
“Not a lot of people know about the business side of theatre,” Goans said. “There is publicity, advertising, playbill writing, box office — there’s a lot of things that go into the business side.
“Now that I’m graduating with these two degrees, I have every opportunity to do stuff that a businessperson would do, and I have every opportunity to do stuff that a theatre person would do,” Goans continued. “The opportunities that I am going to have after Kansas Wesleyan and after grad school are going to be pretty big.”
“Madeline pursues her goals with a ferocious focus,” Brassea said. “She sees where she wants to go and takes calculated and enthusiastic steps to get there. I can’t wait to see where she is in 10 years.”