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Scholarships I received
- DC Distinguished Scholarship
- DC Presidential Scholarship
- Hester Hollar Literary Studies Scholarship
- James Koldenhoven Theatre Arts Scholarship
- Jeffrey A. Alons Theatre Arts Scholarship
- Kuyper Honors Program Grant
- Mike Vanden Bosch English Scholarship
- Theatre Arts Activity Scholarship
Makeup Design with Teresa Ter Haar
A concept that blew my mind
Because I was both a theater and an English major, my Dordt experience was saturated with the concept of “story.” There's no "right" way to create narrative art, so we constantly wrestled with a variety of difficult questions. What constitutes "good" art? Why is explicitly Christian art often not good? Can Christians create art that doesn't overtly evangelize, or does that disregard our call to make disciples? How should Christians respond to art that grapples with topics Christians typically deem sinful? Can Christians include those elements in their art? If so, do those elements need to be redeemed within the context of the narrative, thereby enabling the artist to provide Christian answers to real-life problems, or can those elements be used to spur audience members towards more questions? Is the latter irresponsible art-making, or is it one of the criteria that categorizes "good" art? I don't think there are easy answers to these questions, but they always resulted in mind-blowing conversations.
Obstacles I’ve overcome
My home church was much less staunchly-Reformed than the churches most of my Dordt peers were raised in. I never went through a catechism class or did a profession of faith, nor did I attend a Christian high school. So when I showed up for my first day of classes, I was intimidated by how the majority of my classmates possessed the terminology, historical background, and ease in communicating their convictions. I shared those convictions, but I lacked experience in articulating them academically. Because of this, it was more difficult for me to understand some of the religious preconceptions under which my classroom conversations operated. But by humbling myself enough to ask questions, by doing research on my own, and by engaging in honest conversations with my friends, I was able to figure it out. And in digging deeply into the nuances of Dordt’s mission and vision, I developed a more robust sense of my own theology. This was really hard and really messy, as I often disagreed with Dordt's understanding of Christianity. I wouldn't trade my faith-wrestling experience for anything, though. It's impacted my identity, and it connected me to so many people who I respect, even if we don't see eye-to-eye.
Who I was when I came to Dordt
I was the epitome of timid. I had moved over 600 miles from home to a place where I didn’t know a single person. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to integrate myself into a community that shared virtually no similarities to the one I’d grown up in. But by the end of my freshman year, I had developed life-long friendships with a dozen people, and I knew the majority of people on campus – both students and staff. I had to be brave in introducing myself to strangers. I had to be vulnerable in allowing others to know me. I had to take risks when trying out for plays and volunteering for leadership positions. Ultimately, I was grateful that staying stuck in my timidity wasn’t an option. My sense of self grew as a result.
How Dordt impacted me
Dordt has made me more thoughtful in all senses of the word. My coursework was all creative in nature, which demanded a lot of introspection. Chapel was always convicting, often resulting in follow-up conversations and a change in my lifestyle. My friends all came from different backgrounds, and hearing their life experiences caused me to reevaluate my own understanding of the world. Furthermore, everything I did at college was communal. In developing close friendships, I became more thoughtful in caring for others’ needs. My time at Dordt made me empathetic.
Cool things I did
On campus, I served on residence life staff for two years, participated in twelve theatrical productions, co-wrote/acted in four years of Prairie Grass Film Challenge entries, wrote for In All Things and The Dordt Life, spent three weeks in the Netherlands for a class in Dutch Culture and Reformed Worldview, and completed the Kuyper Honors Program. Off campus, I taught Sunday school at my church and taught a middle school drama class for the city through Sioux Center Arts.
Where I am Now
I’m halfway through my fellowship here at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. I'm the publications fellow, which means I'm using both my English and Theatre majors through dramaturgical-type work: researching and synthesizing and writing essays and interviewing and blogging and editing and spending time with some very prolific artists.
Part of my job is writing for a dramaturgical publication called Words on Plays. For each mainstage production, we put together a book featuring articles on the play's historical/sociopolitical context; explorations of the play's themes; interviews with famous playwrights, directors, and designers; a synopsis; and a glossary. (I managed to use the word "worldview" in one of my articles. Thought Dordt might be proud.) It’s a sweet gig.
This job is challenging, but because [my professors] each pushed me as a storyteller, I'm well prepared. Living in San Francisco is challenging too—it's the opposite of Sioux Center, that's for sure! But the faith-based conversations we had in class and in [my professor’s] offices prepared me well to navigate this new culture. (Updated 2/4/2019)
What I would tell prospective students
Know that the professors at Dordt are truly unique. I learned so much more than academic material from my professors, because I knew them outside the academic realm. I spent time in their offices daily. I ate dinner with them in their homes. I babysat their kids. I asked them about their marriages, their political views, their journey from undergrad to becoming a professor. I felt comfortable being open with them because they were so open in sharing their stories with me. That's something special.
How Dordt has helped me Do More
I knew who I was in high school, but I really grew into that person at Dordt, because Dordt intentionally fosters an environment for all aspects of growth: personal, relational, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. My time at Dordt made me more myself, and Dordt has enabled me to do more than I would have been able to prior to my four years in Sioux Center.