“I don’t care about the awards. I just want to be good,” says Julio Trinidad, a 27-year old from Queens who always dreamed of becoming a performer. For Julio, his hard work has value in itself—a trait that he attributes to his Dominican parents who immigrated to the United States to raise their family. After years of seeking an artistic outlet, the theater major discovered his passion for acting at LaGuardia Community College—winning awards along the way. Julio demonstrated his talent during his participation in the 46th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), which gives exceptional theater students from noted theater programs across the country the opportunity to attend master classes, He won top prize in the Irene Acting Scholarship Auditions; as well as a scholarship to partake in the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company summer intensive.The 2014 KCACTF award-winner credits the tools he was given by his instructors for his victories at the competition: Julio’s intense six-minute performance of two scenes and a monologue at the regionals earned him the $500 Irene Acting Scholarship and a chance to compete as a finalist at the national competition in Washington D.C. “I didn’t think I was going to win,” the acting pupil humbly recalls, despite his admittance of rehearsing four days a week for almost two months with his scene partner. “A lot of credit is due to LaGuardia for choosing professors who push you and see your hard work,” he adds, regarding other such faculty members as Whitney Egbert for helping him win a $1,200 scholarship to attend the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Summer Intensive in Boston. “I had never taken a Shakespeare class, and the other students auditioning were doing just Shakespeare. I won because of Whitney,” he comments with deep gratitude. “These are people I admire.”“I have always been fascinated with performing,” Julio says about his newfound endeavor. After completing a certificate program at the Institute of Audio Research an unstable career in the music industry left him unfulfilled. He channeled his creative energy into standup comedy, cultivating his stage presence at open mic events, but something was missing. “I saw that these other comics were acting on stage, and that was a quality I didn’t possess. I thought if I could be a better actor, I would be a better comic. That’s where LaGuardia came in.”He enrolled in LaGuardia’s theater program in 2012 with the intention of taking a few acting classes and eventually transferring to another college. “I’ve always wanted to act but was too afraid,” he says. Julio didn’t expect that facing his fears would reward him with a life-changing experience.“I knew nothing about theater,” admits Julio on taking his first drama class. “Last year was when I saw my first musical.” His talent and discipline superseded his lack of experience as he thrived in his acting courses, becoming president of LaGuardia’s theater club and securing the lead role in “In the Heights,” a campus-wide musical production, directed by his instructor and training coach, Stefanie Sertich. “I never thought I would sing and dance on stage, ever,” he says with a laugh. “She introduced me to this art form, and I’m letting her know it means something to me.” Assistant Professor of Theater Stefanie Sertich is also an actor, choreographer and award-winning director with an expertise that she brings to the classroom and the recently developed theater program at LaGuardia. “She’s here to build her students, and it feels good to be treated as a professional, ” he says about his mentor.After graduation, Julio plans to continue to a four-year institution for fine arts and has his eyes set on Lehman College, Brooklyn College or the conservatory program at Julliard.