Updated: Feb 27
Meet Maureen: @momo_sanderson
In her own words:
“I am slowly but surely shifting from being described as “fresh out of college” to “a young professional.” Exciting? Yes. A bit daunting? Absolutely. My 20s, as I have heard time and time again, will be the period of the most change in my life; the time for me to “not throw away my shot.” As soon as I took off my graduation cap with my diploma in hand, that has already proven to be true. All I knew about what I wanted was to find innovative ways to connect to people and still stay in the industry I adored: theatre. So I hit the ground running.
I started my first, as my mom loves to call it, “big girl” job, working as a social media assistant for Broadway In Chicago. I joined the StateraArts Mentorship Program, a program designed to help women grow in the arts. I decided to do even more and was made a social media coordinator. I started my own side business, Gimme Mo Events. Full steam ahead, I decided I still had more to do and auditioned for my first Chicago production. I became fully wound up in wanting to make something of myself. Then life brought me to a complete halt.
My great aunt Margie, an incredible 90-year-old woman I have known my entire life, suddenly went to hospice. I visited her and sang to her. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I said I love you to her, over and over until my mouth was dry and my face wet with tears. I asked her, if she decided to go, to please send me a sign that she was well.
She passed away on a Tuesday morning, marking the first major death I had experienced in my family.
I desperately needed a sign that she didn’t just disappear; there must be something more, something BEYOND this life. I begged and pleaded for her to show herself. I needed her more than anything.
Three days after she passed, I found out that I got the role in the show I auditioned for. The name of the show? “The Incredible 6000 Foot Ladder to Heaven.”
Whether you believe in signs or mere coincidence, this show was my sign, my connection. This show tells the story of one girl’s (Hadley) determination to see her father again. Yet her father teaches her in his song, “They Live On,” that he will continue to live through her: “No parting is final, as I hope you’re learning; all that there is has a way of returning.”
She taught me how to be relentless in my pursuit of happiness, to forge onward even through tumultuous times. So I am still young and scrappy and learning, pushing myself to accomplish and create. But, instead of working towards an unknown future, I relish the present. My 20s may be chaotic and daunting, but, as Hadley learns, “I promise, I won’t take time for granted anymore.”
Pronouns: they/them, she/her
*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Maureen. This year for my birthday, I am embarking on a weekly photo essay project highlighting 52 Phenomenal Women. This is week 19 of 52. Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***