Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
Hannah Doty ’12 has approached her education and career not as a single straight path, but as having the potential to lead to many different opportunities. Doty credited Adelphi with allowing her to foster all of her passions.
“I’ve always had lots of interests. I never felt like I had to pick just one at Adelphi,” said Doty. “Throughout my experience, I never felt limited.” A member of the Honors College, she chose theatre as her major and was very involved in the English department because she enjoyed writing. She took advantage of study abroad, traveling with Adelphi to Florence—her first time out of the country—to study art history.
Doty also completed three independent studies during her undergraduate years. “I don’t know what other college would let you do something like that,” she said. “Adelphi nurtured whatever it was that I wanted to do.”
One of those independent studies was with the Department of Theatre, in which Doty worked with Long Island Jewish’s Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center to create improv shows for their patients. “In the morning I would interview patients. Then I had a team of actors who met me to go over the information I had collected to create an improv show about the patient by the afternoon,” she said. “We’d put it on in the playroom and live broadcast it to other children’s rooms throughout the hospital too.”
Just years after graduating from Adelphi, Doty took the concept she started at the University even further, establishing V.I.P. Hospital Productions and publishing I Am A Very Important Patient. “I had always wanted to write an activity book for kids who are in the hospital,” she said.
It was Doty’s personal experience that inspired her to use her acting and writing background to create this book. When she was just eight years old, Doty was diagnosed with cancer. For more than a year she spent long periods of time in the hospital. “I liked creative activities and would often ask medical team members to look at my drawings, sign my scrapbook, take pictures with me,” she said. “When I initiated these interactions, I felt more in control of my situation and was less anxious about meeting new doctors and nurses.”
In her book she provides activities that encourage creativity and expression and provide fun for patients. “They are designed to improve the hospital experience of kids and teens by helping them to interact positively with their medical team,” she said. “And they are meant to let kids be kids…without an emphasis on their illness.”
In addition to starting her own company, Doty has also put her theatre degree to good use. Since graduating from Adelphi, she secured an acting apprentice with Berkshire Theatre Group in Massachusetts; worked with The Children’s Theatre Company, a non-profit educational theater organization in New York; and worked with CLIMB, a touring, educational theatre that brings plays and classes directly to schools across the Upper Midwest. She has also landed roles in spots ranging from a Wendy’s commercial to a skit on the comedy video website Funny or Die.
Doty, who had returned home to Missouri to dedicate the time needed to write and publish her book, I Am A Very Important Patient, recently moved to Los Angeles. There she plans to continue to build the organization she established —she recently published, The Official Very Important Patient Handbook, her second book geared toward teenagers in the hospital—while also pursuing acting. Doty has found that the Adelphi network extends across the country, having connected with many Adelphi theatre alumni in California.
She said she is grateful to the University for the encouragement she received to experiment and follow through on ideas she had. “I never felt like I had to label myself as just an actor or just someone who likes to write. Adelphi enabled me to combine all of my interests and follow many paths at once,” she said.
“I was able to experience so many different things at Adelphi,” she said. “All of those experiences have contributed to where I am today.”