Shane Graham is not your typical college student. At 25, the U.S. Army veteran has found a passion for acting at the University of Illinois Springfield.
The senior communication major plays three roles in UIS Theatre’s spring production of “Almost, Maine”. He describes it as “a play about love and relationships” with some “really cartoony and quirky” elements added to the plot.
While Graham did some acting in high school, this is the first time he’s ever had to memorize lines as part of a major theatrical production.
“It’s been exciting because theatre has been just really therapeutic since getting out of the military,” he said. “It's been able to not just help me cope with issues, but it's been able to help me just kind of come to peace with myself.”
Graham served as an infantry solider for four years and completed a combat tour in southern Afghanistan.
“I got out and decided that I wanted to raise my son outside of the military,” he said. “I want to be with my wife outside of the military and I was able to explore other options.”
Graham commutes to UIS several times a week, even more now that he’s part of the play, from his home in Lincoln, Illinois, about 34 miles north of Springfield.
“Apart from living 45 minutes away, commuting and taking classes, balancing my schedule has definitely been the hardest part,” he said.
Following graduation from UIS, Graham said he would like to find a job in the public relations or advertising field. He said he’s very thankful that he decided to come to UIS.
“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about how life would have turned out if I went to another school or stayed out of college,” he said. “I don’t think I would have made it as far or done as well if it were not for UIS.”