Profile: Matthew Counihan

Many artists wait a lifetime before receiving either critical acclaim or acknowledgement from experts in their industry, and then there are others who set the stage alight right from the outset of their careers, and thus receive both within their first few years in the industry.

One such artist is vibrant musical theatre performer and Naledi Theatre Award Nominee, Matthew Counihan, who has been involved in a variety of large scale and world class musicals, gracing some of world’s top stages.

After matriculating from Crawford College Sandton in 2003, Matthew graduated from the University of Johannesburg with a degree in Psychology. However the charm of the Arts held a stronger allure. It was at the University Johannesburg Arts Academy where he would gain the necessary training and experience. Although Matthew was not the traditional Drama/Music graduate, this did not stop him from pursuing this dream of performing.

Matthew has had the privilege of performing in Westside Story (Tony), Hair (Paul), Cabaret (Emcee), Peter Pan, the Westend hit Saturday Night Fever (Bobby C – for which he received a Naledi Theatre Award Nomination for Best Male Newcomer), The Full Monty (Nathan), Snow White, The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff – for which he also received a Naledi Theatre Award Nomination), Pinocchio (Jiminy Cricket), Jersey Boys (Joe Pesci) and many more roles. In addition to stage productions, Matthew is growing his career as an established commercial Voice Over artist and corporate performer as well as teacher.

Towards the end of 2012 Matthew embarked on an overseas adventure with Jersey Boys the multi-award winning Broadway musical where he played Joe Pesci. On his returned Matthew expanded his career into the world of Education where he shares his practical experience in a formal learning environment. He is affectionately known by his peers and students, has his feet firmly planted on the ground, and attributes his success to hard work and “living the dream”.

“I believe that you can be whatever you want to be – there are no limits and boundaries. Our biggest hurdle is that of our own mind – leap over that and the possibilities are endless. I left school with the intention of studying psychology and exploring the human mind (which I did) – instead of doing this in the traditional fashion – life happened. I now create magical characters through my knowledge of what I learnt and share those experiences with audiences and my students. I wouldn’t give it up for the world”, Matthew says.

With Matthew’s never give up attitude and work ethic, along with his zest for life, there is no doubt that the sky’s the limit for this young entertainer and adventurer. Look out for him on the nearest stage to you.

Alumnus Profile: Nick Mulgrew

Nick Mulgrew matriculated from Crawford College North Coast in 2007. As a talented literary student he studied a Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, followed by a BA (Hons) in Media Theory and Practice at the University of Cape Town. He later completed a Master of Arts in English Language and Literature as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, also at UCT.

Living in Cape Town he found employment in the Shuttleworth Foundation-funded award-winning publishing start-up Paperight. During his two years there he began his freelance career as a journalist and editor, working on the founding editorial board of literary magazine Prufrock, and founding uHlanga, an award-winning small poetry press. He is the author of two books, the latest of which is Stations, a collection of short fiction that has been nominated for the Edge Hill Prize in the U.K.

Nick’s writing has won and been nominated for both national and international awards. He is the 2014 winner of the National Arts Festival Short.Sharp.Stories Award for Fiction, a 2015 shortlistee for the White Review Prize in the U.K., and was shortlisted for a 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship. He has also been nominated for the South African Arts Journalist of the Year Award.

He recommends a career in the arts, but only if one is willing to sacrifice financial and professional stability for intellectual fulfillment. He reminds present students at CCNC that they must be aware of their position of privilege in South African society, and not to let their privilege shield them from being actively engaged in civic life. He notes that his English teacher Anthony Lavoipierre’s positive impact on his literary skills was balanced by the negative impact he had on his sports pursuits, due to the number of soccer balls – more than fifteen – that he confiscated from Nick over the years.

Alumnus Profile: Uzoma Ayogu

Uzoma (Uzo) Ayogu was born in Nigeria and grew up in Cape Town and Johannesburg. He matriculated at Crawford College Sandton in 2012. He graduated from Duke University in May 2017 with a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. Uzo has deferred his offer to work at Microsoft as a Program Manager to move to Nigeria and continue to build his start-up, Releaf. Releaf is a B2B Marketplace for African businesses to find trusted buyers and sellers. Releaf has raised a pre-seed investment of $120,000 from Y Combinator (Summer 2017 batch). Y Combinator is the world’s foremost start-up accelerator with a 1% acceptance rate, it has accelerated the likes of AirBnB and Stripe to name a few.

Releaf is unlocking the tremendous value African trade has to offer by taking offline 1-1 interactions and digitizing them through a trust network. Releaf believes that building trust in online transactions will massively increase transaction volume and efficiency across the continent.

While at Duke, Uzo chaired Pratt’s Undergraduate Committee on Diversity & Inclusion. He is also a member of the Engineering Alumni Council as ESG class President and a member of Dukes & Duchesses. Uzo was active in community building on campus as a member of and past president of Alpha Phi Alpha. Uzo had the distinct pleasure of speaking at his engineering classes’ graduation.

Uzo has spent two summer sessions and a semester conducting undergraduate research: first, as an aeroelasticity researcher in the nonlinear dynamics lab and most recently as a drone researcher in the Intelligent robotics lab where he developed a conceptual system to autonomously deliver anti-retroviral to rural clinics in South Africa.

Internationally, Uzo has led engineering impact projects in Brazil & Togo and has been selected as a US-China emerging leader delegate by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. As a Melissa & Doug Entrepreneur, Uzo’s passions lie at the intersection of academia, innovation, technology and social impact. Uzo was elected young trustee by the undergraduate student body in 2017. Uzo is a member of the Audit Risk & Compliance Committee as well as the Facilities & Environment Committee. This means that he will serve a 3-year term on Duke’s Board of Trustees alongside the likes of Tim Cook (Apple CEO) & Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner).

Uzo remembers Crawford as having a unique focus on developing well-rounded students versus only focusing on academic excellence and this emphasis is what makes all the difference later in life. Uzo came to Crawford in Grade 9 after spending a year and a half at an all-boys high school. He said that Crawford was a deviation from the speak when you’re spoken to culture and an introduction into the environment where students are encouraged to excel by giving them the freedom to explore.