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Ethan Newman '14

Math and Theatre Collide


Ethan Newman ‘14 knew choosing Simpson meant he wouldn’t have to compromise his twin passions: one for mathematics, one for theatre.

Now he’s combining them for a career in lighting design.

Newman is currently a small town Iowan in a big city — New York City, to be exact. The Lockridge, Iowa native (population 268) is currently finishing a residency there while completing his Masters in Lighting Design at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

But he says he wouldn’t be where he is today without first being encouraged by Simpson professors, who told him, “With math, you can do anything”.

“In fact, I never expected to be working in the field of lighting design,” Newman said. “The melding of my interests and the willingness of my professors to use one major to help the other helped lead me to a career I both excel and love to do."

His interest in math and theatre wasn’t restricted to his studies. During his Simpson career, he participated in 16 Theatre Simpson productions, served as president of the theatre honor fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega, and participated in math club.

“The diverse wealth of knowledge I gained at Simpson has been some of the most helpful things in my post undergraduate life,” Newman said. “Having all of this advanced learning in mathematics, as well as creative approach from my work in theater, has given me the best of two approaches in both technical and design work.”

As many students find, some of the most valuable lessons in college don’t necessarily come from your area of study. They come in learning to become your own person and have your own thoughts and ideas. Newman said ethics and philosophy classes prepared him for the social aspects outside of Simpson’s campus.

“Especially in the tumultuous year of 2016, I know that I have been taught to think for myself and how to think from the perspective of others,” he said. “My majors gave me the tools to be a professional at a high level, but the transformation of how I think may have been the most important for a little Iowa boy to now be living in the largest city in America.”