Junior Kendal Conrad is a recipient of the Womenetics Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarship. The $1,500 monetary prize was awarded for an essay Conrad wrote on gender stereotypes in children’s media.
Her piece focused on three G-rated films that were released theatrically between 2010 and 2011 (Ramona and Beezus, Seven Days in Utopia, and Rio) and broke down how women characters were portrayed in these films.
“It became apparent that male characters overpower female characters,” Conrad wrote in her winning essay. “When female characters are portrayed with jobs, the majority of these occupations consist of stereotyped positions such as secretary, teacher, and waitress.”
Conrad, a triple major in English, theater, and music, was one of only five finalists selected for her work and was honored alongside students from other top schools such as New York University and Harvard.
“Kendal is an extremely dynamic, bright young woman with multiple talents and interests,” says Meredith Goldsmith, Chair of the English Department. “As her advisor, it’s been fun for me to try to help her reconcile her three proposed majors!”
While Conrad loves writing — especially when it results in award-winning essays — her true passion lies within a musical career as a singer, songwriter and guitar player. She has performed at the White House National Christmas Tree Lighting for the last three years, opened for the local country bands Tommy Guns and Crazy Hearts, and sung the national anthem before various sporting events for NASCAR, the NBA’s Washington Wizards, and MLB’s Baltimore Orioles.
“The only time I really get performance anxiety is when I sing the national anthem,” Conrad admits. “You can’t mess it up so it’s a lot of pressure to hit all the right notes while remembering the lyrics.”
While at Ursinus this past October, Conrad performed in and composed incidental music for the play J.B. by American poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish. She also appeared in Funny as a Crutch for Ursinus in 2011.
“Kendal has a lot of talent and she also has a lot of intellect,” says Beverly Redman, Chair of the Theater and Dance Department. “She wants to break into ‘the biz’ in a serious way, but she also has the smarts and talent to get her Ph.D. if she wanted to do so. The road is totally open to her.”
One of Conrad’s biggest career highlights came in 2011 when she posted a YouTube video of herself performing a song she wrote about Nicholas Sparks and his novels. Sparks liked the song so much, he retweeted it to his followers. Eventually, Conrad even performed at a book signing he was doing at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I am such a huge fan of his books,” explains Conrad about how she came to write the song in the first place. “Everybody at the book signing loved it.”
While balancing her various gigs as well as all her studies, Conrad has yet to pick her next step for after graduation — it could be trying to make it in Nashville as a country singer, or instead heading to New York for graduate school — but whatever she does, it will likely be distinctive.
Conrad performs her song If I Were a Nicholas Sparks Novel.