Sarah Hamilton '07 attends an Olympics ceremony at the Whistler Celebration Plaza.
Hamilton acted in "Tongue of a Bird" at Willamette in 2006.
Hamilton participated in at least 15 theatre productions at Willamette, including "Shoebox Shakespeare" in 2006.
Theatre Alumna Manages Venues at Olympics
Sarah Hamilton '07 starred in and helped produce numerous theatre productions at Willamette, and today she is a "production manager" of sorts for an international stage - the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
As athletes and spectators from around the world converge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Hamilton is busy behind the scenes as a venue manager in Whistler, site of many of the skiing, luge and bobsled events.
She leads the 90-person Whistler Mobile Operational Support Team that provides support and security for every mountain venue. Her team assists with logistical challenges and potential "crisis" situations, such as unexpected high attendance at a particular event, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Reacting to unforeseen situations and making sure the show goes on - it's not that far from the challenges of putting on a theatre production.
Hamilton acted or worked on the crew for at least 15 Willamette shows. She also served as president of the theatre department's Student Advisory Board and produced a video on the benefits of the Willamette theatre program.
"Sarah was always willing to roll up her sleeves and help make things happen," theatre Professor Chris Harris says. "Practical theatre production work is part of our program, and it requires students to take responsibility for all aspects of the production - building and cleaning the sets and costumes, hanging and focusing the stage lights, publicizing the show, controlling the lights and sound, managing the rehearsals and performances, and taking down everything once the production is finished."
After graduating from Willamette, Hamilton went to work for the Sundance Institute, where she helped coordinate logistics at the Sundance Film Festival.
Last year she started working for Contemporary Services Corporation, an event and crowd management company. Based out of the company's Salt Lake City branch, she is an event coordinator and venue manager for the Rio Tinto Stadium, a 20,000-seat soccer stadium that is home to Real Salt Lake, the 2009 Major League Soccer Championship team.
She also has traveled to other company locations to support operations at San Francisco 49ers games in Candlestick Park, University of Wyoming football games in Laramie, and now the Olympics.
"Venue management is a paradox of being able to see how things operate both on the micro and macro levels," Hamilton says. "At Willamette, I learned to work with many different types of people, and how to take care of the finer details while remaining focused on the bigger ideals.
"My professors and friends at Willamette had a profound impact on the road I was able to take after graduation. I know a great deal of my confidence and drive was fueled by the strong support network of people who saw my potential and did everything they could to help me succeed."
Working on the international stage has also given Hamilton a new perspective on her place in the global community.
"Vancouver and Whistler are such wonderfully diverse cities. Adding the Olympic Games creates this energy of so many different footsteps ultimately leading to the same place. To see the world come together for the Olympics supports a personal realization and world view that started while I studied at Willamette: this human community is not about what we all have in common; it's about the ideas we share in spite of our differences."