Garet Weissenborn, Tisch Performance Studies 2021, was and is a born performer. As a young child, he delighted in posing for the camera and sharing his original poetry. But there was something more that drew him to performance from an early age. “LGBTQ+ folks all know performance as a concept,” he explains. “We have to constantly be aware of how others perceive us. We either perform a closed-off identity, as an act of protection, or we embrace ourselves fully, as a revolutionary act of love.” So, while Garet loved performing, things were challenging behind the camera. He struggled with his mental health in an education system that lacked appropriate support.
Then Garet came to NYU, and a world of possibilities opened up. He decided to merge his interests in performance and LGBTQ+ health and wellness by majoring in Performance Studies and minoring in Global Health Policy. “So often we approach education from an analytical perspective, leaving out our creative selves. In combining these two areas, I realized I could provide better resources and care for LGBTQ+ youth,” he says. “I could make a difference and be true to myself.”
Finding a Niche With Tisch Performance Studies
Garet took a circuitous route to Tisch School of the Arts. In fact, he initially applied to NYU’s College of Arts and Science (CAS) to major in Social and Cultural Analysis. But after submitting his application, he received an atypical reply: Would he consider applying to Tisch Performance Studies instead? After some research, Garet “fell in love” with the program. “With Performance Studies, I can explore all of my areas of interest. I am a queer scholar, a creative, an actor, a writer, a dancer. Here, I can be it all in a way that is flexible, honest, and liberating,” he says. “There’s nothing like Performance Studies, and there’s nothing like the professors, advisers, and community here at Tisch.”
Education for the Greater Good
Outside of Performance Studies, Garet participates in activities that provide specialized support and education for those who are struggling. He’s a peer mentor with NYU’s Project OutReach, a pre-orientation program centered around community service and civic engagement. He credits the program with giving him “a community, truly a family,” which has provided vital support over the past three years. Project OutReach also introduced him to local nonprofits that have shaped his career aspirations, including the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI). In fact, HMI introduced to him to the concept of an LGBTQ+ inclusive health curriculum.
Additionally, Garet works as the Education and Training Intern at the NYU LGBTQ+ Center. There, he’s built fundamental skills for a future career in public health. In recognition of his work with LGBTQ+ youth, he was recently awarded the Marc and Ruti Bell Public Service Scholarship—the first Tisch student to receive the award. The prestigious scholarship goes to undergraduate students at NYU who plan to pursue a career that advances the public good. “I’m still in shock,” he admits. “But it’s such an honor. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Tisch, it’s that we all need to lean on others. I would not have gotten to where I am today if it weren’t for my friends and family, Project OutReach, and my NYU LGBTQ+ Center team and colleagues. With this scholarship, I look forward to providing that support for others.”
Planning for a Brighter Future
Looking ahead, Garet plans to pursue a graduate degree in public health. After that, he’s hoping to return to NYU to complete his Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate in LGBT Health, Education, and Social Services at Steinhardt. He’d like to launch his career in his home state of New Mexico, so that he can give LGBTQ+ youth the supportive education he didn’t receive.
“School is a crucial place to provide structure and care for children. However, many schools fail to provide resources and support for their LGBTQ+ students,” he explains. “Growing up, I only felt recognized through social media and entertainment. Therefore, I don’t want LGBTQ+ youth to have to hide any aspect of themselves. Above all, I want them to feel seen, heard, and empowered. I want them to embrace themselves and their own way of learning wholeheartedly.”