Ella Spoelstra ?21

Ella Spoelstra

Class Year


Current home

Chicago, Illinois


Theatre Performance

Current Position

Freelance Director; Social Media and PR Manager at Amdur Productions; Marketing Director at BoHo Theatre

As the 2021 Distinguished Senior, Ella Spoelstra was recognized at Carthage for her high academic achievement, service to the campus community, leadership in student organizations, and active engagement beyond the campus. She continues to excel after Carthage as a freelance director, social media and PR manager at Amdur Productions, and marketing director at BoHo Theatre.

Ms. Spoelstra directed “Come Undone” (a new work) at Three Brother’s Theatre and “Storied” at Timothy Middle School. At BoHo Theatre, she is responsible for creating and planning content, building community and theatre partnerships, managing all digital and print communications, designing the website, and interviewing featured artists. As social media and PR manager at Amdur Productions, a fine arts festival company that spans Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Ms. Spoelstra is in charge of all digital, print, and media communications and promotions.

“Carthage made me appreciate the little things in life and turned me into a lifelong learner. I enjoy gaining new skills, meeting new people, and discovering passions I never knew I had.”

Ella Spoelstra, ’21

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I enjoy the ability to try new things, create, teach, and direct while also getting involved in the business, marketing, and logistic side of the arts.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“The Theatre Department’s curriculum made it possible for us students to learn more than our chosen focus. Even though I was a theatre major, I learned lighting, sound design, costume skills, and set building skills. I also was able to study abroad and take other interesting courses that let me grow personally and intellectually. I am a curious, well-rounded, and dedicated individual because of my experiences at Carthage.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“My J-Term course to Puerto Rico with Professor Shannon Brennan and Professor Angela Dassow combined creative writing and biology. Before this trip, I never thought about how the arts and sciences could go together. I now see the world differently because of the experience. I see beauty and art in the sciences and math, and vice versa. I think critically about facts in a way that also examines world views and culture. Now when I travel, I don’t just see one aspect of an experience.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“I chose Carthage because of the scholarships I received. But when I came to campus, I quickly discovered that I was at the right place, regardless of the financial support I had. The small but close-knit theatre program, the dedicated and brilliant professors, and the diverse opportunities were all significant factors for me.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“Both of my jobs and all of my theatre opportunities are because of what I learned and how I grew at Carthage.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“The faculty at Carthage cared about me as a human and as a scholar. I would not be where I am today without the faculty who believed and invested in me, such as professors Herschel Kruger, Neil Scharnick, William Newcomb, Stacy Pottinger, Melissa Cardamone, Shannon Brennan, Richard Meier, Fatih Harpci, John Maclay, Marcella Kearns, and Pamela Smiley.”

What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?

“I went through some difficult times at Carthage, along with beautiful times. I learned how to build resilience in a sometimes cruel and painful world, but I also learned to build strength of heart, to have compassion for others, and to seek opportunities to help those around me.”

What's your favorite Carthage memory?

“I loved every show I was in. I made new friends or grew closer with friends I already had. I met amazing guest artists and learned so much about myself and the issues in our world through the New Play Initiative.”

Tips for current Carthage students?

“Say yes to as many experiences as possible — outside and inside the classroom. But also don’t burn yourself out. Remember to be a person too. Make friends, practice self care, travel, and write about your time at college (it goes so fast).”

Are you a Carthage alum who is excelling in your field?