The scene is like a fairy tale. A beautiful young woman stands at the edge of a woods dressed in an emerald gown. She sings in a spellbinding soprano that could summon animals from the forest, break an evil curse or cast an enchantment across the land.
But this is not Cinderella in glass slippers at the ball. It’s a campus photo shoot with Elizabeth Curtin (ACCT ’15) in elegant green pumps, dodging deer droppings as gnats buzz in her face. Dressed in her witch costume from the just-finished student production of Into the Woods, she sings the haunting “Witch’s Lament” and gestures dramatically as the camera clicks. She is unwaveringly focused, gloriously confident and improbably professional.
And it’s completely clear: If magic exists here or in any of Curtin’s time at Notre Dame, it’s only a sprinkling on top of her hard work and talent and whatever else she can give.
Because Curtin is walking two very demanding paths.
One minute, she’s in a voice lesson singing scales while standing one-legged on a stack of books in a complex yoga pose, a holistic method to help with focus and breathing.
The next minute she’s agonizing over memorizing the parts of a balance sheet. During spring break, she cries over a word from a German aria that she just can’t seem to nail.
And in her Cost Accounting class, she stares at T-account paths until her eyes blur and she can’t get the words “direct materials” out of her head.
Sometimes she throws herself into cleaning frenzies as therapy. And she gets accustomed to operating on very little sleep.
But then there are the glorious moments.
Landing lead or prominent stage roles in four campus productions including Sweeney Todd, Legally Blonde and the lead female role of Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide for her last college performance.
Performing with the Notre Dame student rock group Band du Jour in local clubs and at the first-ever Mendoza Gala, held spring 2014 for business undergraduates.
Earning enough credits to sit for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) examination upon graduation.
And performing brilliantly enough at a summer tax internship to be offered a job with BDO, one of the largest and most prestigious accounting firms in her hometown of Houston.
Even so, what kind of person decides to embark upon this dual path in the first place? And why?
“Music is my first love, and I was thinking about studying music only,” Curtin says. “But I decided I also wanted to understand business as well. I’ve always loved the idea of entrepreneurial endeavors, especially after working in a restaurant and thinking maybe someday I’d open my own little jazz bar or restaurant. And my dad impressed upon me that business is applicable to any life path. So where else would you study undergraduate business but Notre Dame?”
She decided to go for it, to honor both hemispheres of what she calls her “dual brain.”