Student of Distinction: Lauren Heard

Student of Distinction: Lauren Heard

Lauren Heard is the undergraduate student of distinction from the Department of Theatre and Dance with a B.A. in theatre arts, design/tech option.

“I was supposed to be a doctor – or a secret agent – or something traditionally lucrative! At least, that is what seemed plausible to a little geeky kid from the Central Valley. However, the arts swept me up and never let go.” says Heard. 

Brought up in Fresno, Heard’s childhood was filled with musicals and choirs in the Central Unified School District and singing with Calvary Chapel of Clovis’ worship team. Music and Theatre became integral to her identity. Through the hardships of adolescence and the loss of her youngest sister and other family members, the arts brought her comfort and joy. 

“I create to inspire the same healing in others,” she said. 

“Lauren is simply one of the most insightful, intelligent, and mature students I have ever had,” said Dr. Melissa Gibson, theatre professor. “She’s a joy in class. She makes interesting, original observations; she has graduate-level reading and writing skills; she brings an enthusiasm to the work which makes it all worthwhile as a teacher.”

Initially, Heard registered as a music major. As a singer with love for teaching, she felt natural to pursue choral education. However, a “gut feeling” led her to take introductory theatre classes. 

“Learning to sew and paint flats in Drama 34 changed everything. I could make something. I could design,” said Heard. 

With this revelation, she decided to major in Design. In 2019, Heard joined The Experimental Theatre Company (ETC), Fresno State’s fully student-run theatre company. Peer-mentored, she costumed ETC’s subText as a freshman and that semester, her peers elected her to the ETC Board, where she has since mentored other students and now leads as its Board Chair.

Kathleen McKinley, professor of acting and directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance, said, “As the Faculty Advisor for ETC, I was in awe of Lauren’s capacity to rebuild the company that due to virtual instruction included many first-time and inexperienced actors and crew. Her position as ETC Chair includes overseeing all aspects of production, including logistics, technical direction, and personnel management! Lauren’s gifts as a company manager are simply stunning!” 

Heard’s honors thesis explores how costume designers of Star Wars define narratives through costuming. “This is what I pursue: storytelling through design. Currently, I am applying to production design internships, intending to later pursue a master’s degree with the goal of becoming a production designer and arts educator,” Heard said. 

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

2 thoughts on “Student of Distinction: Lauren Heard

  1. It is such a joy to read about these young people and how they have found success at Fresno State and are doing things they love. They are an inspiration to the rest of us.


  2. Lauren Heard is amazing! She sets out to do something and she gets it done. Crazy talented! Have you heard this girl sing?!?! Beautiful voice! Mad acting skillz too! But what I love most – is her heart! Kind and thoughtful of others. Truly a gem! Love her!


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