Student Speaker- Elizabeth Ingram, BFA Dance
Good evening! As Liz mentioned, I am Elizabeth Ingram, but more commonly known around here as Libby, and I am graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. It is absolutely remarkable to stand here on this stage, look at you all, and reflect on how far we have come. When I started my journey at the University of Kansas four years ago the School of the Arts did not yet exist, Dance was not its own department, and I had absolutely no idea how impactful this institution would be for me. I decided to major in dance when I was in the fourth grade and I am sure that my parents thought that it was just a phase and I would grow out of it eventually, but alas I remained dedicated and their support never wavered. My first experience at KU was my scholarship audition. I was incredibly nervous, but was immediately welcomed by the warmth of the students, faculty, and staff. About a week later, on a Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from the late Janet Hamburg because she wanted to tell me personally that I was accepted, even though a formal letter was on its way in the mail. I remember thinking, “Wow, they must really care about their students here if they make the effort to call me at all, and on a weekend at that”. If you were fortunate enough to know Janet, the fact that she was making calls to future students on a Sunday would not surprise one bit. This generosity and accessibility has never stopped since I’ve been here, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
I have gained many things from my education, but something that I’ve realized is that the most important skills I’ve learned are ones that I did not take a specific class in. I don’t think any of the arts curriculums include courses like “Time Management 101” or “Introduction to Working in Groups”. But, dancing for hours and hours a day, being in tech rehearsal for a play until the wee hours of the morning, staying up all night to edit a film or finish an installation has taught us way more than most people give us credit for. You see, our education in the arts prepares us for so many other things in life. I came here to be a dancer, yet somehow I have become so much more. We are here because we love what we do. What most people think of as hobbies, we turn into successful careers, which never makes me question how much artists are capable of accomplishing. We are taught through our rigorous training how to work under pressure, be open-minded and accepting, function as individual leaders and as members of groups, and to overcome all of the obstacles that are continually put in our way. Class of 2012, I am fully confident that we have been prepared to walk into any complex situation and take control, be aware of everyone’s needs, and find an effective solution. All of these are universal skills that enhance our art and the lives of others, and not just through a performance, showing or exhibition. We have the abilities to make such an impact on our community, and that is something I challenge you to do starting right now. I say this because I have seen it begin to happen already, now we just need to let it fully flourish. Utilize everything you have absorbed here and apply it to wherever your travels take you and you will be on a path to achieve wonderful things.
I could recite some sort of inspiring quote by someone famous in my field about how you and your art will change the world, but I don’t think you need that. Look around at your peers and realize what we’ve all created in just four years, this should be inspiring enough. We are innately motivated to constantly improve and make progress; it is just our artistic instinct. Now we just need to show the world outside of KU how incredible we really are. Congratulations! I wish everyone the best of luck on all of your future endeavors and that you find happiness wherever you go. Thank you.
And now I’d like to introduce Joshua Richardson, who is receiving his Bachelor of the Arts in Film and Media Studies and American Studies.