Your self-directed employment assistant
Last month I had the great fortune to be involved in a flash theatre production where I got to meet many new and inspiring faces in the local arts community. One of whom was Nikki Ambramson, a dynamic individual with many talents. She's an educator, actor, teaching artist, author, and speaker, among other titles. I had the pleasure of meeting with her to talk about her job with Upstream Arts, a Minneapolis-based arts organization that helps individuals with disabilities project and cultivate their voices by way of the creative arts. Enjoy our brief, yet very valuable conversation on her work and outlook!
When did you realize that you wanted to devote your life to the Arts, namely teaching and directing?
My life always [was] set to teach since 3rd grade, but I wasn't devoted to the arts until the summer graduating from college when I was involved with a community theatre show Seussical and realized that my calling was to be on stage. I devoted my life to acting and decided years later that I wanted to direct, act, and help others in those areas develop that same love and understand for the craft as I developed.
As an individual who has disclosed as having two disabilities that are generally hidden, what has been your advantage in the work that you do? (I loved when you mentioned to me about how you’re learning along side your students as what you teach also benefits you.)
I get to be among the crowd. People don't know at many times I have a disability. I can hide it. This can be a gift and a blessing. I learn along my students. When we teach about advocacy, that relates to me and it helps me just as it helps them. I am as much of a part of it as they are.
What has been the most rewarding or triumphant part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is the light bulb moments, the connections people make, and when students create beautiful art without knowing it. I love it when students learn to advocate for themselves and really take it on for themselves.
What has been the most challenging or difficult aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect of my job is working with a variety of people and backgrounds/disabilities who have varying levels of abilities and needs. For me it is challenging putting together curriculum that best serves a varied population. .
Is there any advice you would give to our Punch-In members as they are honing in on their niche in the workforce? Any words of wisdom?
Advocate for yourself. Learn to ask for your needs and speak up for yourself. Only you know what you need and how to be most successful. Do your best. Come to work with a smile and know that it will be alright.
Thanks so much to Nikki for allowing me to get to know her better! If you would like to learn more about her, check out her website.