Lindsey Rowland is a theatre and creative writing double major. Originally from Bucyrus, Ohio, Lindsey has been a member of Theta Nu sorority, serving as the chapter's chorister and senior representative; Otterbein Christian Fellowship, Quiz & Quill literary magazine, a founding member of Olympus Greek Ministry and a member of Otterbein's Curriculum and Senior Year Experience committees. She has worked as a reference assistant in Otterbein's Courtright Memorial Library and was an inter at Wild Goose Creative.
I stand in front of you today, sporting these billowing robes, to proudly accept my diploma denoting my outstanding achievement in…make believe. That’s right, today is the big day that serves as the climactic finale to my journey as a double major in theatre and creative writing. Over the past four years, I’ve learned the fine art of imagination through the mentorship of incredible faculty, encouragement from talented and compassionate peers, and the overall amazing and unique atmosphere at Otterbein; but, despite how blessed I have been to be here, I have to say that today, my education is failing me.
This statement might sound negative, but it isn’t because I haven’t been trained well or any other flaw in the system, but because, when trying to come up with a thought-provoking and inspiring metaphor for the incredible culmination of the time of my life, the words of the theatre artist, of the writer, seem to run dry. I have toiled and wrestled with my pen, but it seems that to try and articulate this experience is nigh on impossible. For example, how do you put into words the feeling one has when they receive news of acceptance to one of the best theatre departments in the country, or when dried violets fall out of a sorority bid, solidifying the feelings of home you had during recruitment? Can we think of syllables that give credit to both the absolute panic and desolation one feels when 4 a.m. is quickly encroaching upon the paper that was clearly marked on the syllabus from day one, as well as the refreshing crackle of electricity in one’s brain synapses when, while sitting in a regular, old class room, something new is learned that can super charge the heart of hungry souls navigating tumultuous waters with the promise of an entire, beautiful world that lay at the feet of those who search, (I call these my Hermione Granger moments). And, try as I might, I cannot get onto paper what it’s like to watch a theatre production you’ve built from the ground up, to serve the homeless in Washington D.C. as a Senior Year Experience, to sit in a blanket fort with the grown women you live with, or to stand in front of the ministry you’ve poured your heart into and give one last statement of faith.
The list could go on forever because, as I’m sure everyone in this room understands, Otterbein is a place of experiences; of exploration and challenge, relationships and achievement. This is the place where I’ve lived through the moments that have come to define me, not just as a student, but as a human being, a citizen of the world; ultimately, and most proudly, as an Otterbein Alum.
Yes, the beauty of these experiences is extremely hard to articulate. I will most likely spend my entire life striving to find words to give it all justice. But, in the end, this is the final lesson I’m learning at Otterbein: the things that can’t be put in the words are the most real, honest, and true. That has been my experience here, and I will never forget it. It doesn’t need a metaphor.
So, class of 2014, my challenge to you is to go into the world holding this indescribable experience close to your heart. Take the wonders that we can’t put into words, that we’ve lived in faith and courage, and use them as a springboard for new adventures. This, my friends, is life: to experience and learn and grow alongside people whom you love and who love you, to let the world fill you up, even tear you down, and to let it all simply happen because I promise you’re strong, your passion is not irrelevant, you’re absolutely incredible, but most of all, you’re ready.
Congratulations, class of 2014! Here’s to new, indescribable experiences!