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During the month of April, we showcased adults who were military children and are successful in their careers. Although this is the conclusion to the series, know that there are many more successful former Faith Middle School students. Success is defined as achieving personal goals, no matter what they may be.
Billy McGuigan is an entertainer who has received many awards in his field, as well as gained many fans. He credits where he is today with influences he had when he was at Faith Middle School from 1986 to 1988, where he attended for sixth- through eighth-grade.
Q: What do you do?
A: Since 2002, I've worked as a professional actor and musician. I have created three nationally touring shows: Rave On!, Yesterday and Today, and Rock Legends. I've toured the U.S. for seven years, and started touring Canada this past year. Some career highlights include playing with Buddy Holly's lead guitarist and Grammy Award winner Tommy Allsup, and Rock-a-Billy hall-of-famer and writer of Oh, Boy! and Rave On, Sonny West. I've been lucky enough to win countless awards including the Spotlight Award for Best Actor in a Musical, a nomination for an Arizoni Award in the category; Best Actor in a lead role - musical, an OEA Award for Yesterday and Today, and most recently I was a recipient of the Midland Business Journals 40 under 40 award, recognizing entrepreneurs in the Omaha area under 40 years old and the 2014 CPACS Alumni Award for Excellence in Public Service from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
A: A typical work day involves driving to the venue, setting up all of the equipment, a soundcheck (making sure everything works and sounds correct), dinner, a meet-and-greet (meeting VIP audience members and answering questions), a pre-show warm-up, perform a two to three hour show, do a post-show meet-and-greet, tear down and pack up all of the equipment, drive back to the hotel, sleep and do it all over the next day.
Q: What led you to this career path?
A: Undoubtedly, I owe a huge amount of choosing a career in the arts to my time at Faith Middle School. In seventh and eighth grade, I was lucky enough to work with two artists in residence that sparked my interest in the arts and helped in realizing that this could be a valid career path. Also, I was lucky enough to participate in Lorri Blanchard's chorus program for three years. She was a great mentor and helped give me the confidence to perform in front of an audience.
Q: What is your education background?
A: I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in English and minor in theater.
Q: What was it like for you as a military child?
A: Honestly, I now feel privileged to have been a "military child." As military kids, we were forced to sacrifice things that regular kids take for granted - things like having the same school, same friends and same cities for our entire school-age years. What we gained, however, was a unique experience that I wouldn't trade for anything: New friends coming in all of the time, new experiences and the ability to adapt to change. These are life skills that military kids learn at an early age and are able to use throughout life.
Q: This month is "Month of the Military Child" which celebrates military children, what would you say to today's generation of military children?
A: Military kids are a special breed. Like our parents, we experience the military life that those who haven't experienced it can't understand. We are part of a special fraternity. When I perform around the country, I proudly tell the audience that I'm a military kid. After the shows, I always love it when audience members come up to me and say with a wink, "I was a military kid too." Nothing more needs to be said; we all know ...we get it.
Q: Define success in your own words.
Personally, success has an ever changing definition. When I first started doing this job, my definition of success may have involved television or movie credits or earning a certain amount of money for a performance. But the problem with that is when you reach that supposed level or achieve one or all of those goals, then what? So now, I'd define success as the ability to never become complacent and having the ability to constantly adapt to ever changing circumstances.
Q: What are y our future plans or goals?
A: Luckily, we have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. We are booked solidly through 2016 and will continue to keep going until audiences dictate otherwise. We'll be lucky enough to return to the Springer Opera House in Columbus in October. Our main future goal is tour internationally.
Q: Anything else you think would be interesting for readers to know?
A: I wouldn't change my time at Faith Middle School for anything. I truly feel like my three years there were more formative than high school or college. And I owe that to the teachers who were really fantastic at their job and truly made a difference in my life. I still remember names like Ms. Lorri Blanchard, Ms. Alice Hiltibrand, Mr. Roger King, Mr. Jimmy Cochran, Mr. Scott Denney, Ms. Hight and Ms. Robyn Hughey. These are extraordinary people who made an extraordinary impact on my life. And for that, I will always be grateful.