There is far more to Marisa Valent-Altland than meets the eye. In fact, just a few minutes lost in conversation with her is enough to reveal her larger-than-life personality and that she’s actually a lot younger than most assume.
At only 26 years old, she has taken on (and traveled!) the world and is eager to share her multifaceted life with any curious audience.
“I wouldn’t say I ever have an average day,” she told Media Writing students in a recent interview, discussing her role as director of the Fine Arts Center and coordinator of Soundings.
It all depends on what’s going on, she said.
On days with upcoming events, she can be found doing preparation work like creating directional signs and sign-in forms for the public, along with making sure performers are prepared and comfortable. On days without an event, she makes an effort to stay in touch with students, responding to emails and ensuring everything is running smoothly.
Theatre major Veronica Stevens vouched for her effectiveness in the department.
“With her, events just seem to be organized,” Stevens said. “Like when everyone’s trying to get their cards signed and names taken, it runs so smoothly.”
Her supervisor, Cathy Kozlik, remarked on her liveliness and enthusiasm.
“When Marisa interviewed for the position, she impressed us with her energy and her ideas for the Soundings program,” Kozlik commented. “Her love for the arts and for theatre comes through also, as she has written and directed and acted in plays outside of Castleton. You can’t be around her and stay disinterested, as her enthusiasm invades the air around her!”
Valent-Altland shares the same appreciation for members of the CU community as they do for her. In fact, she said that socialization is her favorite part of the job.
“When you guys go on break and I have to sit in my office by myself, that’s very sad,” she said. “I love being able to meet people and a lot of the students that I interact with on a day-to-day basis are students from the FAC, because that’s where my office is, so those are students that I share a lot in common with.”
When asked what inspired her to pursue a career in the Fine Arts, she responded that she’s had a passion for theater since the third grade, when she starred as a butterfly in the play “Bugs.” Since then, she has written and directed her own play, “Letter Writing,” produced by SPARE Productions in 2016. She has written other plays as well, including titles “Are You Nervous” and “After Meal,” and continues to create in her free time.
It was also through theater that Valent-Altland bonded with her husband, Alex Altland, whom she recently wedded this past fall.
“Him and I are complete and total opposites,” she said. “I would describe myself as loud and outgoing, he is very quiet and he’s definitely a homebody.”
He’s also a total sports guy and was foreign to theater in the same way Valent-Altland was disinterested in sports like hockey and lacrosse. Through dating in college, they slowly introduced each other to their interests and became the epic sporty guy and theater girl duo, reminiscent of Troy and Gabriella from “High School Musical.”
She also has three beloved cats, Mercutio and Tybalt, named after characters in “Romeo and Juliet,” and Holly, named by Alex and not intended to reference any work (although she associates the name with the female lead of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”).
When she’s not at work or cuddling up with her cats at home, she’s traveling the world. Through study abroad and personal travels, she’s been to Costa del Sol, Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice, Florence, Rome, and London. Out of the countless places she’s traveled, she narrowed down her absolute favorite to Morocco.
“There’s so much color there,” she recalled. “There was a neighborhood that was just entirely painted blue and people selling spices on the streets with these giant bags full of color. I felt like I was inside of a painting.”
In the future, she would love to visit Scotland, more places in Italy and England, and definitely California, because she’s never been.
To conclude the picture of Valent-Altland’s life, she rapid-fired answers to a list of favorite things asked by one Media Writing student.
Her favorite show and movie are “Forensic Files” and “The Princess Bride.” Her favorite food is her grandma’s original “cheesy chicken,” detailed as “shredded chicken wrapped in a croissant with cheese sauce over it.” For hobbies, she enjoys cross stitching and reading High Fantasy novels, and her favorite music is anything from 2013 because it brings back fuzzy feelings of her high school graduating year.
She’s also totally obsessed with iced coffee, the color purple, and her cats. But one of her least favorites is Vermont pizza. She fervently stands by the pizza in her hometown of Vestal, New York as superior.
Lastly, she went heart eyes over her dream Soundings event, a lecture from Lin-Manuel Miranda on anything from writing, directing, or his cultural experience and being bilingual.
“And also, how amazing would it be for Castleton to be like ‘yeah we had Lin-Manuel Miranda on campus!’”