Senior Chemical Engineer Finds Joy in Music

by JILEEN BARRETT & JESSICA MCKENZIEContributor & Staff Writer

Chemical engineering major Erin McWilliams had no idea how involved she’d become with the performing arts when she had first arrived at Manhattan College.

Originally from Massapequa, N.Y,, McWilliams didn’t have any experience in theater during high school. Now as she starts her senior year, she can say that she has participated in activities across campus such as Coffeehouse,Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 6.39.09 PM Open Mic, Music Ministry and the Scatterbomb improv group.

Scatterbomb practices weekly and performs every other week. During their shows, the audience gives a prompt. It is the performers’ job to establish a creative scene based on that prompt.

“It’s almost like a play, but we do everything on the spot….it’s a fun space to interact with people and get the jokes out,” McWilliams said.

McWilliams came across Scatterbomb at the end of her freshman year when she attended a performance in support of a friend. Despite being unacquainted with the arts, she decided to audition. Over the past three years, she has found it to be an outlet for her love of puns, conversation and a great laugh.

Scatterbomb’s shows are free of charge and open to all Manhattan College students. The crowd is able to interact with the cast by giving them one word suggestions that ultimately inspire a story. The shows are entertaining and showcase everyone’s creativity and sense of humor. At the most recent show, the audience couldn’t contain their laughter. This was a great opportunity for students to unwind after the first week of classes for the fall semester.

During her time at the college, McWilliams has also joined Music Ministry, an open choir on campus. This year, she holds the title of Vice President. The group has honed her music skills and made the stage feel like home. McWilliams’ stage fright eases as she practices and performs more frequently.

“If you sing, you pray twice. I feel connected to music in that way,” McWilliams said.

McWilliams loves to showcase her talents in Coffeehouse Open Mic. Anybody at Manhattan College can perform during these shows, whether they’re reading slam poetry, dancing, or playing an instrument. If you need a pick me up, performing or viewing the open mic would be a great excuse to get some caffeine late at night.

“It’s such a ‘good vibes only’ atmosphere. Everyone is so supportive,” McWilliams said.

At these open mics, McWilliams usually opts to play her ukulele. Playing the ukulele is another one of her favorite pastimes.

Despite her scientific career goals, it has always been on her bucket list to have a side job playing the ukulele on a beach somewhere.

“You can’t play ukulele and be sad,” she said.

After graduation, McWilliams hopes to find work doing remediation, which is the process of removing hazardous waste from bodies of water. Water pollution can affect the well being of the entire environment. McWilliams would like to develop a career using chemistry to preserve water channels.

“I’m a huge chem dork… I think it’s interesting that we’re just now realizing the repercussions of all of that,” she said.