GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) student Chase Grabowski won first place at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival last weekend.

Grabowski’s reaction to the win was “complete and utter shock. I haven’t really processed the magnitude of it.”

He is one of eight finalists nationally and the only one representing Region 3, which covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As the winner, Grabowski was awarded a scholarship to take courses at the Open Jar Institute in New York over the summer.

As someone who did not pursue theater until his senior year of high school, to be the first student from UWGB to take home the title was an honor.

“I always wanted to act and sing. Even as a kid, I told my mom I wanted to be an actor/singer, but then growing up, I got intimidated. It’s a big risk to go into performing arts, but once I did that first musical, I got absolutely hooked,” Grabowski says.

He also says that while performing on Broadway would be a dream come true, he just hopes to continue to pursue his theater career.

Grabowski says, “Once you hit that stage, nothing else matters but performing. For me, it’s just an escape from the stress of real life. Going out there, I get to be the most authentic version of myself.”

He will perform for the national competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in April.