Fulbright Focus: Tom Trainer '15 Travels for Theater and Politics

tom trainer

For Tom Trainer ’15 CLAS, his 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to travel to Jamaica is not going to be a day at the beach. He will be studying the intersection of the performance arts and political processes in the Caribbean nation. His ultimate career goal is use the performing arts, news broadcasting and entertainment to inspire political and social action.

“My Fulbright research in Jamaica will give me invaluable access to producers, writers, directors and actors in Kingston's vibrant theater community,” Tom says. “I will focus on theater productions that highlight Jamaica's most critical social and political issues, especially via comedy.”

Tom’s interest in these issues stems from his double majors in Political Science and History. He is currently studying for his Master’s in Political Science at Villanova.

Tom points to his education in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as fundamental in building his interests and skills which proved pivotal in gaining a Fulbright.

“There are three professors that have been especially influential in my intellectual growth at Villanova, and ultimately in my decision to apply for the Fulbright,” he says. “Dr. Jack Johannes taught me how to develop sound arguments, both written and orally. Dr. Heidi Rose introduced me to the powerful world of performance art in class and during my study abroad in Greece. And Dr. Eugene McCarraher encouraged me to develop a critical mind—one that tirelessly seeks and believes in the possibility of bettering the world by inspiring public dialogue and awareness for important social problems through comedy, entertainment and experiencing the wonderful human sensation that is laughter.”

As far as extracurricular activities, Tom made the most of his Villanova experience.  He wrote satirical articles in the Opinion section of The Villanovan and participated in the Association for Change and Transformation, where he witnessed first hand the power of comedic rhetoric and performance art in inspiring awareness for and public dialogue about social issues. Additionally, he was a member of Villanova’s Cross-Country and Track and Field teams.

He says he will remember fondly his class dinners, brunches and meetings with his professors, which enhanced his interaction with them beyond the small seminar classes and in the Honors Program. “Not only does the small size make room for dialogue and individual contributions, but all of my professors took full advantage of the size by being as accessible as possible, welcoming open discussions, and demonstrating their sincere enthusiasm in class.”

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