Student Spotlight: Jesse Monsalve
Colorado Mountain College student Jesse Monsalve is from Colombia originally, but has been in the valley since 2010. In addition to acting and serving as master electrician for most CMC shows, he’s been heavily involved with productions at Vaudeville, Thunder River, Theatre Aspen and the Hudson Reed Ensemble.
How did you end up here?
An uncle of mine fell sick, and my mother took care of him for nine months in the hospital, so she lost her job. One of my aunts who lived in the valley found a job for her here and got us a work visa. I arrived as a sophomore in high school.
When did you get into theater?
Back in Colombia, I was in a play when I was like 5, but back there there’s not a play every year in school or anything like that. I love seeing other people smile, and that’s the fulfillment I get from performing. So I would dress up as a character when I had to give a presentation on symbiotic relationships or something and that would be my way of performing. When I got here, my barrier was that I didn’t speak the language.
How long did that take?
About three years. Most of my Latino friends graduated a year before I did, so my senior year I really had to make it work. That year I played Teen Angel in the “Grease” production at Glenwood High. When I watch the video now I can’t understand a word I’m saying, but I wasn’t thinking about that. I just wanted to have fun, and I learned a lot. After that, I decided theater was for me.
Why did you choose CMC?
CMC was right here, and I applied for scholarships and got a collection that pretty much paid for my tuition. Last May I graduated with a double major in theater and business. My current major is new media production.
How did you get into the technical side?
That’s just me trying to be as marketable as possible. Acting is fun, but it might not pay the bills. We’re often short of tech, so I just tried to learn as much as I could. I may not be able to make a career out of that in the valley, but with what I’m learning at the Isaacson school I’m hoping someone will want to hire me.
What are your plans in the meantime?
This December I’m going back to Colombia for the first time in six years. I’m planning on taking my camera to try to film as much as I can and make a story out of that. We’re also bringing our production of “Uncle Vanya” up to the Wheeler in February. I’m also going to try to get involved with “Sixteen Wounded,” so if I get into that I’m doing two plays at the same time as well as doing school. That’s kind of the way I like it.
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In Colorado, the premiere mushroom-hunting season occurs in late July and August. Last year’s Lake Christine Fire, combined with this year’s wet weather, made for particularly good burn morel mushroom hunting.