Julie Holston is Professor Emerita of Theater at South Mountain Community College. She taught at SMCC from 2003 to her retirement in 2020.
Julie was born in 1965 at the Phoenix Children’s hospital in Arizona. She grew up in the beautiful small town of Sedona with her two older brothers, mom, and step-dad. As a child Julie was drawn to music. Her mother was a brilliant pianist and performer, and she owned a nightclub in central Phoenix. Julie’s mother fostered a loving and creative homelife where Julie was encouraged to pursue her passions and strive for greatness in the classroom.
Julie attended Northern Arizona University, where she originally went into music. Later, she found that her true passion was theatre. She decided to double major in English and Theatre to open up more opportunities after college. Julie didn’t plan to go into education, but realized that her love for directing could be fulfilled in a teaching profession.
Potential Interview Clip *11:56 – 12:50 (talks about choosing to teach and double major)*
After completing her Bachelor’s Degree, Julie was hired at Gerard Catholic High School (Phoenix, Arizona) in 1988. GCHS closed during Julie’s tenure, and she moved to Westview High School, which was opening in Avondale, Arizona. Julie enjoyed being a part of the last experiences of her students at Gerard, and the first of her new students at Westview. Due to some teaching certification changes in Arizona, Julie was required to get her Masters to continue teaching and discovered a great program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She earned her Master’s in theatre from Roosevelt University in Chicago while teaching at Apache Junction High School.
Potential Interview Clip *16:23 – 17:50 (need for masters degree in AZ clip)*
With thirteen years of teaching high school under her belt, Julie sought some new opportunities. An opening came up at a South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. With a performing arts center under construction, Julie was the first full-time theatre faculty hired at South Mountain. Even with some challenges, such as short-staffing, low funding, and inconsistent student enrollment, Julie led the theatre program to much praise. In her inaugural year, Julie showcased a wide range of shows including:The Laramie Project in September of 2002, A Christmas Carol in December of 2002, and the most recognized, the musical Westside Story in Spring of 2003.
*great place for archived photos of those plays or performing arts center being built* Potential Interview Clip *32:05 – 33:53 (discusses The Laramie Project Specifically Potential Interview Clip *46:08 – 47:13 (First Year of Productions)*
Recently retired, Julie looks back on her 18 years at SMCC with fondness and love for her students and colleagues. Julie is thankful for her opportunities, creative freedom, and the overall growth and development of SMCC’s theatre program. Julie strove to teach her students the benefits and life skills of theatre. She saw theatre as more than entertainment. Theatre is a representation of life: continuous opportunities, wonderful people, hard work, fresh starts, and satisfying ends.
Julie always wanted her students to know that life happens in steps, and college is just one step on our greater journey. There may be setbacks, a couple tough grades, sleepless nights,
12-hour shifts, but there will always be opportunities for us to choose our future. Julie’s greatest legacy would be to see that the value of theatre has been learned and South Mountain would continue to honor the art of performance in her retirement. In her time at SMCC, Julie set a standard for excellence on stage and in the classroom. Her work establishing the South Mountain theatre program deserves to be recognized in our Oral History Project so Julie may be honored for her dedication to the students and community.
Potential Interview Clip *1:03:31 – 1:04:47 (Julie expresses value of theatre in people’s lives)
|Place of Origin||Phoenix, AZ|
|Place of Residence||Minnesota|
|Recording Date||October 8, 2020|
|Interview Conducted By||Faculty Researchers Dr. Summer Cherland and Dr. Travis May|
|Story Written By||Student Researcher Marissa Grijalva|