Student Spotlight: Ben Caracello
When he was in eighth grade, Ben Caracello was taking a drama class when he watched a friend perform in a play.
"Seeing the technology behind the scenes made me want to be a part of theater," he said. "The next fall in high school, I showed up to build the set for the fall musical, and I've been doing theater constantly ever since."
Caracello enrolled at College of DuPage because several friends and family members had attended and it was affordable. It's a decision he has never regretted.
"I wasn't mentally or financially ready for a four-year program, but COD allowed me to gain invaluable hands-on experience in theater while also satisfying general education requirements for a much lower cost than I would've paid elsewhere," he said. "I was able to work in the scene shop and work as run crew on all kinds of shows while taking classes. This helped me build a broad range of skills in many areas of technical theater that I consistently use to this day. On the personal side, my time at COD was one of a social awakening. I gained many lifelong friends, and I even met my wife there."
After earning his Associate in Arts degree, Caracello transferred to Illinois State University, where he obtained a bachelor's in Theater Design and Production. He became the Technical Director for several shows at a small equity theater in Peoria and then filled the same role in the theater department at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.
But he could only handle two years of being away from home, so he moved back to Chicago in 2005 and landed his current job as Technical Director of Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. He would love to see the program grow and develop into one of the premier theater departments in Chicago.
With all of his success, Caracello still credits College of DuPage for its influence on his theater education.
"Working with professionals and students on a wide variety of different productions, including orchestra concerts, rock concerts, musicals, dramas, theater rental shows, graduations and the like, has given me an extremely well-rounded production experience that I'm able to draw on regardless of the production situation I'm in," he said. "If you are willing to work hard and learn, COD is willing to teach you so much more than what you may expect from a community college.
"Having professional companies like the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in residence makes COD unique among community colleges. I know the College has changed overall quite a bit since I left, but I know that those in the Theater department have never lost sight of what made the Theater program special for so many of us."
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