Arts in Action – Hingham Alumni Share Their Arts Experience in College and Beyond

HHS alumni Nick Capodilupo, Elizabeth Croteau, Devan Kushnir, Ethan Ayer, MK Prosky Gilbert, Emma Angel, Kelley Osterberg, and Kate Schembri were guest panelists for HAA’s Arts in Action College and Career Forum.

January 6, 2024 – Submitted by Hingham Arts Alliance, photos by Joshua Ross

On Wednesday, January 3, an impressive group of Hingham High School alumni shared their wisdom and experience studying and working in the arts. The Hingham Arts Alliance, our town’s nonprofit booster organization for the arts, hosted the Arts in Action panel which featured artists from a wide variety of disciplines ranging from music and theater to photography and visual arts. The event was held at the high school and was open to the Hingham community at large.

The engaging panel, hosted by Ally Donnelly, focused on arts beyond Hingham High School with the panelists sharing stories and tips about applying for and choosing a college, maximizing a post-secondary arts education, and working in the arts after graduation. 

The panelists praised the recent enhancements in arts education at HHS, specifically the hiring of Arts Director Joann Bellis, the rollout of the new Arts Pathway program, and the support from Hingham Arts Alliance. Looking back at her own HHS experience, panelist Elizabeth Croteau, a 2017 HHS graduate who went on to major in Music Theory and Composition at NYU, recalled a stressful college application process, noting that the new arts-focused supports weren’t available. 

HPS Director of Fine Arts Joann Bellis opened the forum with a few words about the new Arts Pathways program.

Elizabeth went on to share some tips to best prepare for arts in college, recommending that students considering a music or music-related degree take AP Music Theory while at HHS. Other panelists also spoke about how their Hingham education prepared them for life beyond high school. MK Prosky Gilbert, a 2021 HHS graduate now studying New Media and Digital Design at Fordham University, raved about Mr. E-Show’s Graphic Design and Photography classes. Current Emerson College student, Kate Schembri noted–and many of her fellow panelists agreed–that HHS graduates arrive at college extremely well-prepared for academic test-taking.

When considering colleges and post-graduate programs, panelist Nick Capodilupo stressed the importance of learning about the professors who teach in the intended discipline and finding the right fit, suggesting that music students seek out trial lessons as part of their application process. Nick is a vocal performance major at Ithaca College School of Music Theatre and Dance. Now the Head of Social Media for Fordham Athletics, a position she helped create, MK told current HHS students that if an arts opportunity doesn’t currently exist at their college, they shouldn’t hesitate to create the opportunity themselves.

Elizabeth Croteau, who graduated HHS in 2017, is currently the social media coordinator for a music storage and collaboration platform.

Many of the panelists jumped in with advice about creating opportunities in the arts beyond school. Kate stressed the importance of networking and shared how her experience running Kids Cabaret last summer in Hingham led to a summer internship in the business sector. Kate is majoring in the Business of Creative Enterprise at Emerson. Nick encouraged students to volunteer and accept unpaid gigs to build a resume and reputation, recalling his early days singing the national anthem at wrestling meets. Nick recently performed the national anthem at TD Garden for the Boston Celtics and has twice sung at Yankee Stadium. One piece of advice that had all the panelists nodding their heads is the importance of being easy to work with, saying that alone is often the difference between getting or not getting the gig.

When asked about competition in the arts, the panelists agreed that the arts world can be competitive, but they were happy to share tips on how to keep it manageable. Kelley Osterberg, the HHS valedictorian for the class of 2018 now getting her Masters of Music degree from the New England Conservatory, is currently auditioning for one of the few full-time orchestra positions in oboe performance. To keep grounded, Kelley stressed the importance of having a wide support network that includes friends outside of the arts. Devan Kushnir who is currently a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts told the students that working in the arts involves a lot of rejection for everyone, so it’s important to develop resilience.

Emma Angel is a senior illustration major at Savannah College of Art and Design.

The panelists said making ends meet in the arts can be hard, but it’s doable, particularly if you get creative and are willing to explore some side hustles. Kate shared that she works as a Victorian caroler during the holiday season. Emma Angel, an illustration student at Savannah College of Art and Design, mentioned that she can always sell her art on Etsy or other platforms on the side. Devan makes some extra cash waiting tables at a local restaurant when in town. He also shared some wisdom that had been passed down to him: in order to make a living in the arts, it’s important to be a holistic artist and willing to wear many hats.

Devan also stressed the importance of finding a strong and supportive community, a sentiment echoed by the other panelists. In fact, two of the panelists described how their passion for the arts was ignited in supportive communities at HHS. Evan Ayer, a 2016 HHS graduate who studied actor training at the Hart School, described his “aha!” moment while seeing the play Kinky Boots in New York City with the HHS Drama Club. Similarly, Elizabeth remembered discovering the magic of music scoring during a Little Mermaid screening and play-along while traveling with the HHS band to Disney World.

Award-winning broadcast journalist Ally Donnelly moderated the event.

HHS continues to offer similar arts-related trips, giving students exposure to arts beyond Hingham. With great resources such as the top-notch arts faculty, the new Arts Pathway, and programming supported by Hingham Arts Alliance such as the Arts in Action panel, HHS students can be well on their way to pursuing the arts in college and beyond, just like these talented alumni. 


*  The Hingham Arts Alliance would like to thank Ally Donnelly and all the Arts in Action panelists for donating their time to support the arts in Hingham. If you would like more information about HAA, including how to volunteer or make a donation, reach out by email to


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