Story & Photo by Julie Archer
What is the pink tax?
Every year, women around the world are paying up to $1,300 more in taxes per year on products made particularly for women. The pink tax is the extra money women are charged for similar products or services men have. This can include razors, deodorant, medicine and dry cleaning services.
“There is an idea from the corporation aspect that women will pay more for these things,” Tara Hall, professor of sociology at Rose State, said. “They think women ‘enjoy shopping’ and clothes.”
Gender Wage Gap
The gender wage gap is the difference of the average pay between men and women. According to payscale.com, women earn almost 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. While this may seem small, when a man is taking home $100,000, a woman doing the same job is taking home $78,000.
“Statistical discrimination is a big issue with [the wage gap],” Hall said. “Employers assume that if a woman is a certain age they are going to be taking off work more because she’s going to have children and take on all of the responsibilities that go with it.”
According to groudnswell.org, in 2000, a New York City trade lawyer named Michael Cone researched gender-based tariffs. When researching shoe import tariffs, Cone discovered men’s sneakers were taxed at 8.5%, while women’s shoes were taxed at 10%. While Cone did more research, he discovered there are more gender price discrepancies.
Because of these findings, Cone decided to sue the government. During this time, over 100 other companies signed on to be co-plaintiffs. Some of these companies include Steve Madden and Urban Outfitters. As of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the attempts to fight the gender-based tariffs.
There are pricing discrepancies in clothing where women’s clothes cost more than men’s. According to gq.com, a Saint Laurent striped sweater for men sells for $240 less than the striped sweater for women.
“We place a lot of emphasis on how [women] look … part of it is society telling us we need these things in order to be professional and attractive,” Hall said.
In 2009, Janet Floyd, the co-founder of a Manhattan research firm found drycleaning gender discrepancies. She brought two Brooks Brothers oxford shirts, one for men and one for women, to be laundered.
The women’s shirt cost $8.75 while the men’s shirt cost $7 to launder. She called the cleaners to ask about the price difference but they claimed the machine could not handle the delicacy of the women’s shirt, so they dry cleaned it, which cost more.
While doing more research, she found dry cleaning for men and women cost about the same, but for laundering, women pay an average of $4.95 and men paid $2.86.
Although there are some women who are not aware of the pink tax, there are still several women who purchase men’s products over women’s just because of the price.
“I have always bought men’s deodorant because I thought it lasts longer, the cheapest men’s deodorant works better than the most expensive women’s deodorant, which isn’t fair.” Olivia Tarver, a biology major at Rose State, said. “The only thing I do not like about using men’s deodorant is the masculine smell.”
A study from the University of Central Florida discovered women’s deodorant costs 30 cents more than men’s. When manufacturers were asked about the price discrepancies, most of them said the women’s deodorants cost more to manufacture. The differences they claimed were packaging and ingredients. However, research showed the deodorants had the same ingredients with the same amounts.
In the 2010 Consumer Reports, researchers found medications marketed to women cost more. They discovered at Walgreens, Excedrin Complete Menstrual costs 50 cents more than Excedrin Extra Strength, even though they had the same active ingredients with the same ratios.
A tampon tax involves taxation of feminine hygiene products. These are taxed as “luxury items.” According to bbc.com, in France, lawmakers reduced its tax on feminine hygiene products from 20 to 5.5%.
“There are also recent reports of what they call ‘period shaming’ in high schools,” Hall said. “[It targets] girls who don’t have either the time to take the proper breaks to take care of themselves or they don’t have the products.”
Often, when other students find out about a girl going through this, they make fun of her for it.
What to do about it?
Once more people are aware of the pink tax, women can start to purchase the male versions of the products they need.
“When there are options, don’t pay extra for the flowers and the pink and the raspberry smells,” Hall said. “A lot of times in the comparison it is the exact same product, just one specifically targeting women. When you have those options, go for the one that’s a dollar cheaper but doesn’t target women.”
Once companies see that their higher priced women’s products are not selling, this could cause change.
Sen. George Young pursues criminal justice reform: ‘The capitalist backbone of this country was slavery’Read Now
Story by Bailey Walker
Photo courtesy of George Young
Oklahoma is found at the bottom of many lists, but incarceration is one list the state tops. The state of Oklahoma surpassed Louisiana as the top incarcerator by rate in the nation, and with the U.S. as the top incarcerator of the world, the state of Oklahoma holds the title of incarceration capital of the world. The Oklahoma Policy Institute reported the United Kingdom has an incarceration rate of 139 per 100,000 people, Canada 114, the United States 698 and Oklahoma 1,079.
Oklahoma Sen. George Young, a Democrat, served two terms as a House representative and recently started a term as state senator. Young focuses largely on racial and criminal justice reform, as he has introduced bills to prevent incarceration for failing to pay court fees, requiring crisis intervention training among police and requiring stated reasons on record for parole denial. Young represented House District 99 from 2014 to 2018, which according to census data in 2010, was composed of 29 percent of white people, 62 percent of black people, and 10 percent Hispanic people.
“My district is predominantly African American, so I have to come from the position of those people I represent,” Young said. “Even if I didn’t I would feel the same way I feel about [criminal justice].”
Young also criticized current immigration narratives, describing immigration as something that built this country and described current institutional practices.
“We can’t do like we used to do and just flat out make them slaves,” said Young, “we’re enslaving them in other ways by preventing them from being able to enjoy what this country was founded on and that is freedom.”
Young contradicts what may be a popular narrative in immigration policy.
“We ‘ought not be building walls, we ‘ought to be building doors and invite folk in and when they sit down ask ‘how, what, why?’ and then go from there instead of building walls to keep folk out,” Young said.
Young works more broadly than his minority constituents, as his work would affect everyone.
“For me, if you’re a citizen of Oklahoma, I work for you,” Young said. “I ran in Senate District 48, but I never took an oath to Senate District 48 I took an oath to the state of Oklahoma and with that I have to deal with every person who’s in the State of Oklahoma, those are my constituents.”
This is shown perhaps most prominently in SB 102. Young made a proposal to increase Oklahoma’s minimum wage to $10.50, which would place Oklahoma in a more competitive position with Arkansas at $9.25, Colorado at $11.10 and Missouri, which passed a ballot measure to adjust the minimum wage to the cost of living in 2018.
Young said he loves America and that he is not going anywhere else, and so he criticizes what he sees wrong with the country’s past and present.
“The capitalistic backbone of this country was slavery,” Young said. “If it wasn’t for cotton and tobacco in the South, with free labor, you would not have America.”
Young recognized ongoing racial disparities in Oklahoma, especially the disproportionate incarceration of minorities and historic economic disadvantages. These two issues, incarceration and poverty, have been linked by many analysts, including the Vera Institute report regarding the Oklahoma County Jail. Poverty is an indicator of incarceration and was also reiterated by Kris Steele, former Oklahoma Republican Representative and Executive Director of the Education and Employment Ministry.
“Capitalism is not fair. And on top of that, you had laws that prevented people of color from benefiting from that capitalistic system,” Young said.
Poverty data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in combination with census population data showed that in 2017, 8.58 percent of Oklahoma’s white population lived in poverty, while 20 percent of Oklahoma’s black population lived in poverty. Similarly, census data compared with Prison Policy Initiative data shows 74.3 percent of the state population is white and 7.8 percent is black, but 49 percent of the incarcerated population is white while 26 percent is black. It is data like this that Young ties to capitalism and institutionalized racism.
“You had banks that refused to loan us money, the Federal Housing Authority would not loan to African Americans because they wanted them to live in certain areas, and when they did the county governments would devalue their properties so we could not accumulate wealth from the one thing that most folk in America accumulate wealth from and that is owning a home,” Young said.
A key policy Young has suggested is the racial impact statement, a report which would be required to be produced for future legislation.
“Iowa and New Jersey are two places that have passed similar measures,” Damion Shade, the criminal justice policy analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said. “This data process is essentially like a fiscal impact statement but focuses on the impact of criminal justice bills in different communities.”
Shade explained this process helped alter legislation in Iowa in line with the impact report’s findings.
“Arkansas hasn’t adopted legislation yet, but a trial study last year has also helped reshape some laws for the better,” Shade said.
Though Young’s bill wasn’t brought up for a vote, another measure by Rep. Brian Hill and co-authored by Rep. Scott Fetgatter is moving along the legislative process.
HB 1855 summary prepared by Marcia Johnson reads, “The CS for HB 1855 authorizes the Legislative Service Bureau to enter into a contract with a qualified person or entity to promulgate community impact statements on certain criminal justice legislation. The measure also prescribes specific legislative processes for the introduction, consideration and possible passage of criminal justice legislation.”
Bail reform legislation was also introduced with SB 252 authored by Sen. Roger Thompson and Sen. Chris Kannady.
According to the summary prepared by Kalen Taylor, “The measure also requires judges to release a person following an appearance in court unless the judge makes certain findings defined by the measure. A person must be taken without unnecessary delay before the most accessible magistrate in that county for an initial appearance and charged with a crime within forty-eight hours of the arrest. Magistrates must set a reasonable bail for persons not released by the court. The measure strikes language authorizing the court to require a person so released by the court to wear an electronic monitoring device.”
Young said the democratic process does not start or stop at voting for candidates, he explained that community activism and interacting with lawmakers are necessary components to the democratic process.
“I think people have to get involved, and if we don’t get people involved we’re not going to be successful in changing what we see now as ill thought out, ill developed statutes and laws,” Young said.
Story by Zaviana James
On Valentine’s Day, love was not the only thing flowing through campus. The campus experienced another event: a tornado drill. Some students may have not experienced a tornado drill since high school, so this drill was unexpected.
A lot of schools have safety drills to take precautions if an unexpected event occurred. Oklahoma weather tends to be unpredictable; one day you could be inside drinking hot cocoa the next you are outside playing with your dog. As the spring season is coming up in Oklahoma tornadoes are a possibility, this drill was very helpful.
Joedon Hughes, coordinator of safety and security for the campus, is making sure everyone is safe this upcoming season. “It is very important to have students, staff and faculty go through the procedures because it builds a point of reference that can be relied on if an incident, such as a tornado, does occur,” Hughes said.
Drills around campus are not common and drills like this past one have not happened in a while. Hughes said this is because campus officials have focused on improving campus preparation, response and recovery in active shooter related scenarios. According to Hughes, there may not be a campus-wide drill again until next spring.
“I plan on continuing to reach out to members of the campus community to provide building or area specific training, drills and evaluation,” Hughes said.
A place for drills and safety training could be very helpful for students and staff in case of a weather emergency. Faculty and students need to be prepared for whatever could happen, whether it is severe weather or an active shooter, these drills will help us all prepare. Everyone should take these drills serious, and remember the information in case anything does happen.
Story by Tanner Pipins, Assistant Multimedia Editor
Making history as the first LGBTQ+ Oklahoma City Councilman, James Cooper, 36, was elected to serve the residents of Ward 2. Cooper, a middle school teacher and trustee of Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority board, secured the seat after obtaining 53 percent of the vote, nearly triple the amount of his nearest contender.
Ward 2 is home to more than 64,000 people and a few of Oklahoma’s fastest growing spots. The Paseo District, Uptown 23rd and the Asian District are a few of Oklahoma’s historic districts Cooper will serve.
After running for the same position in 2015, Cooper’s vision to honor the legacy of Metropolitan Area Projects persists. MAPS was the improvement program approved by OKC’s voters in 1993. The vision was voted to be paid for by a temporary 1-cent sales tax. After its 66-month long period, the tax collected over $309 million. This money later went on to build the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Civic Center Music Hall and other projects. After the approval of MAPS, other improvement programs like MAPS for Kids and MAPS 3 contributed to the further growth of Oklahoma City.
Inspired by the initiative, Cooper plans to reconnect OKC, improve neighborhoods by adding sidewalks, crosswalks and lampposts and strengthen the city’s bus system.
“With Ward 2 and OKC better connected, we’ll set the stage for commuter rail reconnecting,” Cooper said. “I want all who call OKC home to have access to walkable neighborhoods, reliable public transportation and quality education.”
With the potential of MAPS 4 in the near future, Cooper envisions areas that can improve with financial backing. According to Oklahoma City’s Homeless Alliance, there were nearly 5,000 homeless citizens during 2018. Cooper sees this as an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved. “For too long we’ve put Band-Aids on issues when it comes to this: Mental health, addiction and homeless services,” Cooper said. “We can work with organizations and successful non-profits to address these issues before it’s too late.”
As for the current MAPS for streets extension, the temporary extension will expire on April 1, 2020. Based on previous elections, the next one to extend the 1-cent MAPS sales tax is expected near December 2019.
Until then, the mayor and city council would like to hear from the general public how they would like to see the money implemented. The city council asks residents to submit ideas that will benefit the city moving forward. Submit thoughts and ideas at okc.gov.
Story & Photo by Madi Zick
Chief Multimedia Editor
Traub Elementary School has been a part of Rose State for several years. The building has been used for activities such as Kid’s College, a gym for the athletic teams at Rose State and storage. There has been confusion as to what exactly is happening to the elementary school.
Dr. Kent Lashley, vice president for Administrative Services, explained the operation.
According to Lashley, Epic Charter Schools is renovating Traub to make it a sustainable place to have a Blended Learning Center that will open in the fall. This center will host upper-level grades for students to attend.
“Epic Charter Schools is able to deliver hybrid education K-12th through what they call Blended Learning Centers,” Lashley said.
But why did they choose this school?
Rose State and Epic Charter Schools have worked together in the past, and when Epic realized that it needed a fiscal agent to help with the new BLC, it decided that a beneficial partnership could be formed.
“They have been renting our facilities for a while, and they happened to discover Traub, and they decided it would be perfect for their third location in Oklahoma City,” Lashley explained.
Rose State College is leasing the building to Epic Charter Schools, so it will still be available for Kid’s College in the summer along with some storage space for the college.
“Epic is going to be wonderful to work with,” Lashley said. “They are going to make the building look a lot better, cleaner and safer; it’s been a great partnership all around.”
Story by Kessley Miller
Social Media Director
Two Rose State employees were honored for their work in mentoring college students at the seventh annual Oklahoma Mentorship Day on Jan. 18. eighty-six mentors from Oklahoma and Texas were honored for their work at the event held at Oklahoma State University.
This mentorship award was through the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative and the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
Erica Alvarez, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Rose State, was honored for her work with the R is for Thursday program, which helps individuals who have gone through the foster care system and graduated high school.
The program helps each student transition smoothly to college. It is open to any student on campus as well. Alvarez said she wants to help any student who is struggling.
“More than anything it is about being a support system,” Alvarez said. “A lot of our students need additional resources. Unfortunately, a lot of them go without [one] … [This] is [about] being a support system for students and helping them outside of the classroom.”
Having a mentor throughout college can help a student handle classes, work and other activities. According to the Forbes website, mentorship is a way to soak up the wisdom of those who have gone before you, in a way that sticks.
Professor Chris Knox, reading coordinator and CLICK coordinator at Rose State, was also honored for her work with the CLICK program. CLICK stands for Community Learning In Critical Knowledge. This program allows students to have specialized tutoring by full-time professors at Rose State. Students can do homework, have professional help in certain subjects and build relationships with their mentors.
CLICK meetings are from 2–3 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and there are eight different professors on campus to assist students.
“Many of the mentorees I have are students I have already known from previous semesters, so there is already a bond established there,” Knox said. “If there is a student I do not know on the orientation day, there is a slip we pass around that asks students what area they would like to focus on or a special mentor the student would like to have.”
Mentorship is an important aspect to success in life. For information on mentorship opportunities, contact Erica Alvarez at email@example.com or Chris Knox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story & Photo by Julie Archer
Technology is used nearly everywhere. There are electronic kiosks available to order and pay for food at restaurants, customer service representatives are often robots and some people cannot survive without their cellphones. Although technology can sometimes malfunction, it has become a convenience for many. This is why classrooms are starting to use more online tools.
“I have been a teacher for 23 years,” said Sandy Politte, first grade teacher and vice principal at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School. “I have gone from using a chalkboard, to a dry erase board to an interactive Smart Board.”
A study in the United Kingdom from EdTech Magazine showed more than 30 million primary and secondary school students use Google education applications. Students are learning to send emails to their teachers and create documents to submit their assignments electronically, preparing them for colleges and modern technology-dependent careers.
Colleges and universities use eLearning programs for classroom efficiency. At Rose State, Desire2Learn and Canvas are the resources instructors use to upload their course content, and where students can submit their assignments and take tests.
“The use of platforms such as Canvas and D2L have allowed faculty and students to engage with each other beyond the four walls of the classroom in face-to-face classes, allowed instructors to move assessments to the online platform and utilize instructional time more efficiently,” Travis Hurst, dean of eLearning and Academic Outreach, said. “[The use of these platforms] has provided the means for students to take online classes at times, and locations, that best meet their needs.”
Students often have their own computers at home for school usage. The students who do not have personal computers have access to computer labs and school libraries to do homework, print assignments or other work that requires a computer. At Rose State, the Learning Resource Center has computers for free student use.
“For Rose State College, all of our instructors are asked to post their syllabus and gradebook online,” Dr. Dana Lindon-Burgett, associate dean for eLearning and Academic Outreach, said. “Using this strategy, instructors provide easy access to course policies, contact information, and grade standing. Anytime a student has access to the internet, they can find basic information that will help them succeed in the class.”
Although technology is a convenient tool in the classroom, it does not replace the face-to-face communication between the instructor and students.
“There is a great deal of research that demonstrates that notebooking and writing information, particularly using two-column notes or the Cornell note method, improves content retention,” Hurst said. “This skill is still valuable, even in the virtual environment.”
Some students like to have a balance with organization using notes and technology. With physical notes, internet is not needed to access the information.
The use of technology has evolved alongside education and it continues to change. Students and instructors may find it useful, but it does not entirely replace traditional learning methods.
Story by Bailey Walker & Hollye Carroll
Assistant Editor, Online Editor
Photo from the September 1980 15th Street News Archives
A former professor of psychology at Rose State, Dr. Keith Thrasher, passed away on Feb. 20, 2019, at the age of 79. Born June 22, 1939, Thrasher met his wife Peggy Smyers at age 18 and the two were married six years later. After graduating from Paris Junior College and earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Texas A&M at Commerce, he attended Oklahoma State University for his doctorate.
Thrasher began his teaching career in Uvalde, Texas. He transferred to Northwestern State University and then later came to Rose where he received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1998.
“He does have many smart comments, but that’s just him,” wrote one reviewer from Rate My Professors.
“That rare combination of Oklahoma charm with Texas cool,” reads another comment from the site.
A common thread through Thrasher’s reviews was a genuine care for his students and learning, as well as a lot of personal stories from his life.
“He often reminded us when he started here, the Social Sciences Division was no more than a trailer,” History Professor Michelle Brockmeier said. Brockmeier worked with Thrasher from her start date in 1995 until Thrasher’s retirement.
“As computers, D2L and other technology crept into our academic lives, Professor Thrasher held out as a Luddite,” Brockmeier explained. “But gradually we took turns teaching him new things and how to use it. He was always very gracious and very appreciative of any help. He was inquisitive and curious, trying to understand all the new terminology and societal changes around him.”
Brockmeier still has the cut crystal bowl Thrasher gave her as a wedding gift in 2010, recalling him as a kind man who loved to laugh and smile.
“One of my favorite stories about Professor Thrasher dates back to a division Christmas party in the early 2000s,” Brockmeier said. “We were supposed to meet at Dr. Larry Edwards house for the party. As the night progressed, we wondered where Keith was because he usually never missed these things. Just as the night ended, he finally appeared. He had gone to the wrong house but they were having a party and were so nice to him, he just stayed, making new friends. That’s just who he was — he made friends wherever he went.”
A service was held Feb. 28 for Thrasher at the Atkinson’s Theatre which preceded his March 3 funeral in his hometown of Paris, Texas.
Story by Na’imah Abdul Al-azeez
Bullying can be detrimental to a person’s mental health. Social media platforms have given rise to cyberbullying in the newer generation.
Bullying has been occurring in nearly every public school for decades. Statistics from stopbullying.gov showed that 20 percent of U.S. students, mainly between the ages 6-12, have experience bullying.
Most colleges like Rose State College are much different when compared to public schools. Here, the bullying is a lot less, causing the students to be more comfortable in their environment. Despite that, some of the students at this community college are still dealing with the effects of bullying. Rose State offers resources for students who need help.
“I’ve been seeing people for a year and a half,” said Hannah Cordero, a therapist in training in the Student Access Services at Rose State College. “I’ve worked with people for mental health, anxiety and depression among a variety of things.”
Cordero stated that while 30- 40 percent of her clients were victims of bullying, it was hard for her to know for sure what kinds of bullying they had gone through.
“It varies from person to person,” she said.
Despite this, she admitted that she did treat students who were victims of cyberbullying, mainly ones who were between the ages of 18-24, and she thought most of these cases happen within the student’s inner circle.
“If you are being bullied by someone who you’ve known for five years, it would be more hurtful than someone you don’t know much about,” she said. “It can impact their trust. It can change the they view trust and cause them to be mistrustful of others.”
As for bullying in college, Cordero admitted there is less bullying in college than in high school but warns to not count out bullying completely.
“There’s still going to be people using it for power – like in high school. I believe all of that is going to continue,” she said.
Her message to students who are being bullied: “Prevention. Keep the lines of communication open. Tell your friends and family so they can give you advice on how to handle it.”
Cordero’s statements on bullying relate to the experience of Rose State freshman, Maddie Brown. “I had those problems going into my freshmen year in high school,” she said. “It was really rough.” Brown, who’s going into law enforcement, said she was mainly bullied in person and that it would usually be among her friends.
“It was way more personal for me,” Brown said. “It hurt a lot more. It’s like thinking someone is there for you and then they turn around and stab you in the back. It’s really rough. It made me question my self-worth and where I stood with everybody. I felt like an outcast.”
Like Cordero, Brown said there is less bullying in college than in high school. She thinks it’s because of the maturity among the students.
“I feel like everybody in college is just trying to mind their own business and get their education so they can start their career,” Brown said. “That’s everybody’s goal. They’re not worried about where you are or what you look like. Sure, they care about you, but they’re here for a reason.”
“Talk to somebody about it,” she stated. “Don’t keep it in. I feel like that’s what hurts most is not having anybody to talk to. Be strong and stand up for what you believe in.”
Although students may feel alone, finding a support system can help when dealing with bullying. Student Access Services provides free counseling services. For more information, call 733-7334.
Story by Yesenia Gonzalez, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Every journey starts somewhere. For Rose State Theatre alumnus Paul Kim, his journey into the world of theatre began at the Atkinson Theatre in 2005. Although Kim began college with an interest in marketing, the stage beckoned and he answered.
“I didn’t have a major,” Kim said. “Actually I wasn’t expecting to go to college, but I had this distant family member who was visiting us in Oklahoma and he said, ‘you live a couple blocks away from college, why don’t you take a college class’.”
Prior to attending Rose State, Kim worked in productions with Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City and Pollard Theatre in Guthrie. However, Kim did not know then where his educational path would lead him.
“I met with [Rose State Professor] Rick Nelson. We had this discussion and he really inspired me in the fact that I could go on with my education,” Kim said.
Kim chose to take the plunge and pursue his interest in theatre. “I remember that specific motto [for Rose State], ‘Finish what you start’,” Kim said. “I remember that popping up in my head and remembering, ‘Let me try this. If I fail, let me fail.’”
Theatre Professor Rick Nelson worked closely with Kim during his time at Rose State.
“Paul’s ability to tackle any task with 100 percent dedication [is his most memorable attribute],” Nelson said. “If he didn’t understand something, he would ask. He rarely asked twice because shortly after understanding something, he mastered it. He was the first student designer I had at Rose who costume designed a show.”
Rose State Theatre offered training in various production aspects and Kim originally focused on acting because it was the focus of the department. However, Kim narrowed his focus once he found his niche.
“When I dabbled in costume, that’s what I decided to go into it,” Kim said. Kim attributed some of his interest in costuming to his fascination with the costumes he saw in the movies from his childhood.
During his time at Rose State, Kim worked on many different plays, but two came to mind as being especially memorable: “Almost, Maine” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
Kim enjoyed working on Brighton Beach Memoirs, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age play by Neil Simon set in 1937, because it exercised his knowledge of the time period and challenged his skills as a costume designer.
Nelson directed “Almost, Maine” and Kim learned to, “... pick [the director’s] brain to see how he envisions the character,” a skill he carries with him to this day.
“One of the plays I did enjoy was ‘Almost, Maine,’ Kim said. “It was because each scene was a different setting, a different story; I loved seeing the different way that each story can capture someone’s heart. It really is a little play about love.”
After striking the Rose State stage, Kim continued his education at the University of Oklahoma where he majored in costume design. Directly after OU, Kim began his time as a graduate student in the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. Kim chose to settle in Chicago, where he currently works.
After finding himself in the giant that is the Chicago theatre world, Kim initially struggled to find his voice in a sea of costume designers.
“It’s really about how to find myself as a specific designer without having any stereotypes attached to me,” Kim said.
Kim likened costume designing to a business, where designers invest a lot of time and money into producing a final product. A common struggle is for designers to get stuck in a creative rut and only being able to design costumes for specific genres or time periods. Kim described himself as a jack-ofall-trades and tackles a variety of plays.
According to Kim, theatre is often seen as something only the wealthy can enjoy. Kim disagrees with that sentiment.
“When people think about theatre when the word first comes up, theatre is for the rich,” Kim said. “That theatre can only be enjoyed and produced by the wealthy, but I have to disagree with that because theatre can happen anywhere. I really learned that from Rose State.”
During his time at Rose State, Kim and his friends performed in various venues, including the courtyard outside of the Atkinson Theatre where they performed a skit to raise awareness about domestic violence. It attracted people in the surrounding areas on campus and brought people together to enjoy an act of storytelling.
“Theatre can blossom anywhere,” Kim said.
Kim’s Jefferson Award win was an unexpected and welcome surprise.
“So I have been out here in Chicago for about a year and a half freelancing,” Kim said. “I guess I was just focusing on paying [my] dues, trying to get into the Chicago world. It has over 2,000 theatres and has a huge and old theatre community here. It is very well known for new work, new plays. I really wasn’t trying to put myself into work that could potentially be award-winning, I wasn’t even thinking about that at all.”
Kim won a 2018 Joseph Jefferson Award. The award recognizes equity (unionized) and non-equity (non-unionized) theatre, talent in the Chicago area. Kim’s award recognized his work in midsize costume design in the equity category for his work on the play The Explorer’s Club with the Citadel Theatre. The play is set in late 19th-century London where a woman attempts to join a male-only scientist club and faces opposition while proving her worth as a member.
Kim attended the ceremony at the Drury Lane Theatre, where Kim felt at home with the other nominees who shared his passion for theatre. After doing freelance work for only a year, Kim was both surprised and excited by his win.
“I literally felt like I was in one of those Oscar award-winning moments,” Kim said. “It was a dream; it really was a dream. I feel it has carried me on to loving even harder, the work that I am doing.”
Initially, Kim did not know what path to take in the great stage of life. With help from mentors and listening to his own inner voice, he followed his passion and achieved a spotlight win.
Paul Kim was the circulation manager at the 15th Street News during his time at Rose State.