To the students, faculty, administration, parents, and others watching this evening, I am honored to speak with you and to be inducted into Alpha Chi along with eleven of you. I am humbled by your academic achievement, especially as it has coincided with massive disruption to our normal lives during this pandemic. Typical tasks and responsibilities from just over a year ago have become dramatically more challenging. To not only continue on but to reach this level of academic success is something of which I hope you are exceptionally proud. For me, my professional successes have come from my commitment to scholarship. I have presented at national conferences, written articles in national journals, and worked as an educator furthering others’ scholarship for over 20 years. And I hope you feel or will come to feel as I do about scholarship: the effort I put into studying, learning, analyzing, creating, writing, and communicating my ideas has been the difference between being limited and being limitless.
Our schooling is divided by somewhat arbitrary lines, separating subjects, indicating the start and stop of a semester, marking our progress from first year to senior. But embracing the identity of scholar means understanding learning as a boundless process, one that doesn’t end with the close of a semester, one that expands from theatre classes to business courses to biology labs. For me, my learning has only grown as I became an educator and more so when I became a professor. I have the opportunity to be curious. To imagine new possibilities, across disciplines and theory. Where some people see separation between arts and mathematics, for example, as a scholar I got to share my thinking with others, allowing colleagues’ ideas to shape my own, and I found myself learning and growing as I co-taught quantitative reasoning, creating a community of math learners akin to a working theatre ensemble. I could not have arrived there on my own nor if I had followed the path others had travelled. But as someone who believes in lifelong learning, who invites opportunities for growth (which yes, include plenty of failures and dead ends along the way), my path held wonders, community, and potential…and is ever-changing.
I did not intend to identify as a scholar, but it was more that I did not stop learning, thinking, and making meaning when I graduated from college. What I can say about my life as a scholar so far is that it is wide open. My skills can be applied in a million different directions, I’m constantly learning and growing and becoming, and I am wide awake in this world. I can see the challenges we are facing, in higher education, in our communities, in our nation. As a scholar, I have faith that I can impact those issues, I can apply the knowledge and skills I have to the problems of our time. I do not have to accept what is handed to me, but I get to imagine and build and develop a way forward that supports the world we want. And I am most grateful that I am not alone. I am on this path with you, my fellow scholars, and I hope you find your intellect, your dedication, your ways of knowing provide you with a life of learning, growing, and shaping this world for the better.