An accomplished high school cross country runner, Zach Klein brought his passion for the sport with him to UW-Eau Claire when he transferred here midway through his freshman year. Check out any campus or community race in the area and you're likely to find Zach's name at or near the top of the winners' board. But it was on the UW-Eau Claire campus that Zach discovered his passion for theater and, even more surprising to him, a love for opera. The sophomore theatre major now has his sights set on a career on the stage. His interest in the performing arts was piqued by two students in his English class who shared their theater experience. But it was an assistant professor of voice — Dr. Kenneth Pereira — who's convinced him he's found his niche in opera. In the university's Opera Workshop, Zach says he "heard serious opera for the first time," an experience that changed his thinking about his future. In Dr. Pereira, Zach found a talented teacher and a mentor who always has time, advice and encouraging words for him. This spring, Zach found himself in a place just a year ago he never imagined he'd be — on stage performing in "The Marriage of Figaro," an opera directed by Dr. Pereira. While acting now is a priority, Zach also continues his running, a sport that keeps him physically and mentally fit. While bettering his time and winning races still matters, he's also thinking about his sport in a new way. With an eye toward a career in the opera, he now also considers his running to be an investment in his future. After all, he says, an opera singer's body is their instrument so taking care of it is a priority. As an actor AND an athlete, Zach Klein is chasing his dreams … and that's pretty powerful!