University College Graduate Turns Love of Stories into a Career in the Arts
Cory Doman has always been a storyteller—and now, as she looks forward to graduating with a master’s degree from University College’s arts and culture management program, she is hoping to parlay that into a career that brings the arts to life for everyone.
Doman’s love of storytelling started early. “I have a favorite childhood memory of this old trunk that my aunt had. It was her great aunt’s and was full of antique hats, gloves, purses,” she says. “I would open it up every time I visited and play dress up and reenact some Betty Boop scene or something I had recently watched,” she says.
A few years later, Doman, who grew up in the small, rural town of Rockwood, Pennsylvania, had her sights set on being a model and moving to New York City after high school. But one day, a friend told her about a tour she had taken of nearby Chatham University, an all-women’s liberal arts school, and convinced her to check it out. She did—and “fell in love with academia, the history, the arts. It really opened my eyes to a whole world I didn’t know was out there,” she says.
Doman studied broadcast journalism and, after graduation, landed a job with Radio Disney Pittsburgh, where she was quickly promoted to co-host of a family program called the Backyard Show. “I was dipping my toes into being a personality, a storyteller. Whether it’s my story, someone else’s story, or a completely made-up story, I love it all.”
Her radio gig turned out to be a launching pad for something she hadn’t imagined. When the decision was made to close the station, her manager put her in touch with Disney’s human resources, who met with her about other possible jobs and suggested she go to an audition. “I said, ‘I don’t know what you mean. Isn’t that what this is?’” They told her no, she needed to go to a particular studio on a particular day—which, she discovered, was an audition to be a character performer. “I didn’t even know that was a job. I showed up and just did what they told me to do. I was hired on the spot and immediately relocated to Orlando.”
Doman spent the next seven years performing in character at Disney World, “hanging out” with classic characters, doing meet-and-greets and performing in shows and parades. She also got her first taste of connecting with the public and learned firsthand how much the arts mean to people.
In 2019, though, everything changed for Doman. Her mother, to whom she was very close, passed away suddenly, and not long after, the pandemic hit, and she was furloughed. “It was a huge wake-up call for me,” she says. “I knew I couldn’t go back to being a character again, being happy for strangers while I was completely heartbroken.” Also, realizing she couldn’t do character-performing forever, she started to consider her next steps.
She decided to pursue a master’s degree and, with the help of a tuition-assistance program, she enrolled in University College and started taking online classes. She liked the flexibility and structure of the program, and she had the support of several coworkers who were also taking classes. “It gave me a lifeline during lockdown. I still felt connected and had obligations to participate,” she says.
When she went back to work, Disney offered her the job of VIP tour guide—and she started to see connections with what she was learning online. “I realized, I can deal with the fantasy part of my position and also see how it applies in the real world—see what other organizations are doing to help with the arts, and the differences between what nonprofits do and what for-profits do.”
Then last September, when she was just two classes away from completing her degree, she found herself relocating to Denver, coincidentally, when her boyfriend, a cardiologist, got a job at a hospital here.
“I was thrilled. I know that Denver is a huge leader in the arts and is very big on social justice in the arts, and that’s something I want to be a part of,” she says. When she got here, she connected with the faculty and advisors at University College and immediately started looking for a job.
“I was so rusty. My last job interview was playing charades and putting on ball gowns and fins,” Doman says. “The Career and Development Center was phenomenal in helping me gain the confidence I needed. The practice interviews, in particular, were so essential.”
Soon after, she got a job with the Colorado Ballet, working in patron services. At the end of March, she started a new position doing contract human resources work for the federal government. Her long-term goal is to work in the museum industry, and she hopes this job will give her some insight into the workings of the many government-run museums in Washington, D.C.
“My degree has helped me think critically about the bigger picture, what matters and what needs to be accessible in the arts,” she says. “Not everyone has access—how do we get those people involved, how do we represent them, how can we support them? I now have the tools to understand how it all works, how it should be, and I can take that with me wherever I go.”