Posted at 4:08 p.m., May 13, 2015

Student seeks success in performing arts

Jacqui Galloway

Jacqui's Journey

In Jacqui Galloway's quest to become a residence adviser for the LCCC Residence Hall, she was required to create an informative bulletin board, on display in the hall itself. She will be the president of the theatre club next fall.

Erica Klimt

Without “Sailor Moon,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and nice woman named Miss Diane, a 25-year-old Laramie County Community College communications student wouldn’t be where she is today.

As Jacqueline Jennifer Galloway gains more and more attention on campus, thanks largely in part to her social personality and unmistakable Mohawk, she is trying to discard her preconceived notions of college life in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “I want to meet other people who are interested in collaborating and creating arts,” she confessed. “But how do you express yourself creatively here? I don’t know.”

And while she has overcome a terribly rocky past, the road ahead is looking a little less bumpy. Despite past challenges and those to come, Galloway is attending classes and hosting open mic nights with the most upbeat of attitudes.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June 1990 and named by the nurses who were there for her birth, Galloway was faced with challenges right off the bat. Abandoned by a mother with manic bipolar disorder and raised by a sister 20 years older who also had bipolar disorder, Galloway made the best of what she was given.

At a young age, she confessed to loving the Harry Potter books and even reading “The Grapes of Wrath.” “If I didn’t read books, I wouldn’t have the comprehension level that I have now,” Galloway said smiling. And because TV was hit-or-miss depending on whether the bills were paid or someone in her family had taken their frustrations out on it, Galloway was left to entertain herself and her 11 nieces and nephews, who were really more like brothers and sisters.

Her sister loved the “Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” so Galloway and her older brothers and sisters took it upon themselves to create their own soap operas. They used Barbie dolls to reenact TV show episodes, created imaginary friends and even held singing battles. Galloway would redraw TV characters from memory and even develop her own characters complete with backgrounds and special powers. Some of her favorites were “Dragonball Z” and “Sailor Moon.” “It was a surviving mechanism that turned into a talent,” Galloway recalled.

Meeting new people wasn’t unfamiliar to her because her sister’s husband was in the military, so the family moved around a lot. She lived in eight different states before finally ending up in Alaska. “I never had that safety net,” Galloway recalled, ”so it taught me to relate to a broad spectrum of people.”

Sharai Mason said Galloway is a wiz when it comes to social situations. “I was always kind of socially awkward,” Mason reflected, “and she was the person that helped me navigate through social situations where I’m not exactly very fluent.”

NAACP leads the way

Between the ages of 18 and 21, Galloway was part of the NAACP’s youth branch in Anchorage, Alaska and mentored young girls in the ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) program. Children compete in categories such as humanities and performing and visual arts. Galloway’s girls returned home state champions in the categories of singing and acting.

Mason was about 12-years-old when she met Galloway, her mentor, through the ACT-SO program. She described Galloway as incredibly dependable who guided her girls where they needed to go in order to do their best. “Jacqui is extremely driven and determined,” Mason said.

When Mason’s parents divorced, she said Galloway was there for her 100 percent. At a time when Mason didn’t even feel the desire to maintain friendships, “Jacqui really kept up with me. She’s like a sister to me.”

Kicked out and on her own at the age of 16 in Alaska, Galloway was lucky to have found a roof over her head with Diane Yeoman, an elderly church-going woman who was also assisting Galloway’s brother through tough times. Yeoman gave her an ultimatum: Galloway was allowed to live there around the clock as long as she finished high school. Destined to better herself and not to let Miss Diane down, Galloway hit the books.

Although Yeoman was generous helping Galloway, she was not fed with a silver spoon. Instead, Galloway had to work to pay for items like her prom dress and graduation attire. She had so much experience in helping raise her brothers and sisters she decided helping the locals with domestic duties like cooking, cleaning and childcare would be her only option to pay for what she needed and wanted.

After earning her high school diploma, Galloway volunteered for FEMA Corps, a branch of the AmeriCorps. She and 98 other young adults were sent to Arizona because of the immigrant influx there. They were told to make the children feel safe and entertained.

“But what a lot of people don’t know is that it wasn’t just Honduran and Guatemalan children,” Galloway declared, “there were Indian children, Romanian children, other European children.” They were given no additional resources other than a $150 stipend, and, once again, Galloway resorted to her acting, singing and drawing talents to connect to the children.

“That’s how I got over my PTSD,” Galloway admitted. “It’s a good way to learn a language, to communicate and to build confidence.” Not long before leaving for Arizona, Galloway had been assaulted by someone she thought was very close to her. “I hate to say it,” she said, “but it was a learning experience.”

Mason said, “I’ve seen her overcome a lot of personal obstacles.” She said Galloway has this elegance when handling tough situations. “I’ve never seen her retaliate with hatred or disrespect.”

The FEMA Corps’ trip inspired her to continue with her education because she ultimately wants to work with children. “I’ll probably end up being a drama teacher,” Galloway said with a laugh. “But I want to work at a nonprofit with youth development creating programs for kids to have better self-esteem and better self-awareness.” If there is no such program, Galloway intends on starting one herself.

From WUE to Wyoming

Galloway eventually mustered up the courage and logged onto the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) website looking for a college to attend. WUE helps potential students in specific states attend college at an affordable price. She picked LCCC, bought a plane ticket and didn’t look back.

Brianna Weaver, an LCCC friend Galloway met just this year, described her as fun, crazy and good at picking people up when they’re down. They met in speech class and have been hanging out ever since.

“The first day we hung out she spent the night with me, and the next day we went out and got a tattoo,” Weaver said. Galloway opted for a sugar skull tattoo on her forearm, which are also predominate in her drawings.

“[Jacqui] is very caring,” Weaver said. “She puts herself down a lot, but she’s really an amazing person.” Weaver continued that Galloway was a really strong person overall, however.

For her best piece of advice for living a good life, Galloway smirked and said: “No one owes you anything. Work hard to get what you want. You want to be happy—go do it. No one is going to hand you happiness in a bucket.”

Galloway is making her own happiness by pushing for more performing arts activities on campus. “Performing arts is a great way to build self-esteem, meet new people and to know your own potential,” she said. “You also learn problem-solving skills. You learn how to think on your feet and how to make a great first impression.”

Mason said three words come to mind when thinking about Galloway: leader, determination and adaptable. These perfectly describe how Galloway feels about performing arts.

When Galloway first came up with the idea for an open mic night, she was “trying to create a safe space for artists to come in and perform.” She has adapted her original idea into the Artist Collaborative to connect students through performing arts. “Say we have someone come in a play guitar and someone else come in and sing a cappella,” Galloway wondered. “What if they got together and collaborated, and the next [open mic night] they would have a challenge to come up with a new song.”

Galloway hoped to initiate this new-and-improved open mic night next fall, complete with snacks and prizes, of course.

“I’m open to collaborating with other artists to do something,” she said “I don’t want to talk. I’m all about action.”

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