April 22, 2016

Alumni Spotlight: Bonnie Blasetti-Clendon, BFA'03 (Drama in Education)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Alumni Bonnie Blasetti-Clendon smiles in front of a grey background
Bonnie Blasetti-Clendon, BFA'03 (Drama in Education)

Bonnie Blasetti-Clendon BFA'03, is the Owner and Founder of My OM Little Yoga Mat. The business was launched in July 2015 when Bonnie's three-year-old daughter requested her own little yoga mat. The company produces Canada’s premier eco-friendly mat in the perfect size for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Each mat is proudly made in Calgary, Alberta. Through the business Bonnie has developed strong local, provincial and international partnerships. My OM Little Yoga Mat is available to little yogis in thirteen countries. Recently, Bonnie completed Preschoolers and Special Needs Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga in My School.

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

One of the most profound memories that I have was attending Kathleen Foreman’s drama classes. I was fortunate to have Kathleen as an incredible mentor and professor throughout my degree program.  I would always arrive early to all of her classes to ensure I got a seat, usually next to her.  I would countdown the minutes until class started with my open notebook and pen in hand. I remember when Kathleen entered the classroom with her calming and nurturing presence everybody grew still, my body shifted towards the edge of the chair…ready to be inspired, challenged and ‘dig deep’. Kathleen taught me the importance to take creative risks, search for those ‘a-ha’ moments and most importantly to trust in my creative voice.

On September 7, 2013, I attended her Celebration of Life at the University of Calgary’s Reeve Theatre. I was deeply moved by the legacy and impact that she had on so many lives. She will always be a positive force in my life along with many others.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

Under a big birch tree near the University of Calgary’s Theatre! I loved spending time outside on the beautiful campus grounds surrounded by flowers, trees, birds and soothing breezes. I would often visit a mature birch tree between classes to read, study and daydream. I remember feeling grounded, connected and supported as my back rested on the trustworthy trunk. Recently, I took my daughter to visit my tree. It was an incredible moment

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

My time as an undergraduate drama student went by so fast. Savour your time as a student, this is your time to explore and develop your artistic skills. Engage in extracurricular opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone such as; directing, stage management, lighting/sound design, acting and playwriting. The versatile experience that you receive will serve you well after graduation.  The teaching is excellent; every professor contributes something different and they’re always interested in guiding you outside of class time. Many professors have connections outside the university and are willing to provide students with networking opportunities. Enjoy every moment of your learning journey

How has your career evolved?

When I graduated with a BFA (Drama in Education) I was shortly hired at ArtsCommons (formerly known as the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts in the Arts) Education department.  This position allowed me to integrate the arts into the curriculum (K-12) in collaboration with teachers, artists and students. Every arts integrated program was custom designed to meet the learning needs of each class. During my tenure position I gained incredible experience through research, development, partnerships and inquiry based learning. Throughout my career I have taught drama to children in informal learning environments.  I have loved observing my students become more confident and expressive through drama. However, my students have taught me the importance to listen to children’s ideas and stories. When my daughter asked for her own little yoga mat, I listened to her and created one for her and now for thousands of children around the world

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Bonnie's child-sized yoga mats are eco-friendly and produced in Calgary.

What is the best thing about your job?

I absolutely LOVE telling people the story of how My OM Little Yoga Mat was inspired by my three-year-old daughter during our Mom & Tot yoga class.  It is a story that I am very passionate about which fires me up to reach new heights and achievement in my business. Often when I tell people the story on how My OM Little Yoga Mat was born they feel inspired to start a business. Creativity is contagious! However, without a question the best thing about my job is that I am able to nurture my daughter everyday due to my flexible work schedule.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

I never would have imagined my drama degree to take me in the direction as an Entrepreneur! My training in an artistic practice taught me the importance to turn ideas into reality, creativity breeds innovation. My OM Little Yoga Mat is a creative endeavour which has allowed me to move outside my comfort zone and take a creative risk.  To me it is more than a product that I created but rather a work of art founded on research, development, design and production. My arts degree has taught me the importance of collaboration and to trust in the process. Through My OM Little Yoga Mat I work with many people who specialize in specific areas that bring new creative perspectives to the company.  My training as a performer has also given me skills to be a confident presenter to customers, partners, investors and media relations. I take great pride in my work ethic, commitment and tenacity which is traced back from the training and education I received at the University of Calgary.