by Courtny Goodbred
Eastern Iowa Art Academy Staff Member
As a young student, I thought I knew exactly where my life was heading. I had plans to move to Texas and find somewhere to study theater. I wanted to run away and experience new things while learning everything I could. Unfortunately, my budget didn’t allow for those dreams to come to fruition. Instead, I ended up at the University of Northern Iowa studying theater. It was a wonderful, experience-filled year of my life. After graduating from Jefferson High School early, I was in a weird sort of limbo place, not really falling into place until my second and last semester at UNI. After my financials forced me to drop out of school, I felt lost. The entire plan I had set in place went up in flames, and I began aimlessly wandering through my day to day life. After moving back to Cedar Rapids, I hopped around, doing odd jobs, everything from retail to factory work for several years. After a particularly difficult time at a retail store, I chose to take some time off, with the support of my now fiancé, to figure out what I wanted, and where I wanted to go in my life. I had a gaping hole in my life that only some form of art could fill. I’d gone entirely too long without some sort of creative outlet in my day to day life. I went from art consuming every hour of my time, to having zero chances to express myself.
Enter the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy. Heather Wagner and I had been friends for nearly 12 years, since I was a middle schooler. One night, she was burning the midnight oil doing paperwork, and I happened to be chatting with her. The idea popped in my head to offer some assistance. I had done data entry in the past, and my theater training was in Stage Management, so I knew I had the skills to be useful to her. After an offer of volunteering in exchange for coffee and snacks, my journey with EIAA began. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was nervous. I wanted nothing more than to help, but my confidence was at an all time low, and I didn’t want to be in the way. Fortunately, the entire staff at EIAA was so welcoming and heart felt, that I never felt out of place, and they opened their arms wide to me. They gave me a home and an outlet at a time when I thought all hope was lost. After a short time, I was asked to join the staff, and how could I say no to that opportunity?
From working with students, to organizing and entering data, the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy has given me a place where I finally feel useful, needed, and appreciated. I finally feel that I have a purpose. I’m able to create art, play music, mentor students, and genuinely say that I love coming to work every single day. EIAA does amazing work within the community, and it’s a place that I’m so proud to be involved with. It’s changed the lives of so many people, and I’m incredibly grateful to be among those ranks.