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So You Say You're a…Hoosier?

Musical theater student Allison Schwartz gives her top 5 reasons for loving her school.

A shot of campus
(courtesy Indiana University Bloomington website)
Until I began my college career at Indiana University, SEC Football and Georgia Bulldawg blood flooded my childhood years with amazing memories. I have pictures with Uga, the famous bulldog mascot, and his iconic trademark represents the Bulldawg nation. As a student at IU, I sure am proud to call myself a Hoosier, but there is no concrete definition of what a Hoosier actually is. The name Hoosier derives from a collection of inferences and stories that date back to the 1830s. All I do know is that the Hoosier nation prides itself on spirit, passion, and pride, regardless of if we have a mascot to show for it or not.

So, without further ado, I present to you Allison Schwartz's Top 5 Reasons Why I Am Obsessed with IU:

1. Diversity
42,000 students from all 50 states and over 125 countries create a fusion of cultures plopped right in the middle of America. Every inch of this exquisite campus is covered in diversity. From one of the top business schools to one of the top music schools in the nation, there is something for everyone on this campus, and it is impossible not to soak in the infinite amount of opportunities that surround me.

2. The performance opportunities are endless
I am not kidding you when I say that. As a Musical Theater major, it was obviously important to find a place where I could always have my toes dipped in something theater-related. The Bloomington Playwrights Project (where new and original plays are workshopped) and The Cardinal Stage Company produce amazing shows, and are both conveniently located near campus. Also, graduate students, the Union Board, and student-run clubs are constantly posting new audition opportunities on the callboard.

Last year, I represented Jacobs School of Music as a member of the Singing Hoosiers. This high-caliber show choir dazzles the people of Bloomington as well as travelling to surrounding states. If shimmer hands are not quite your forte, a cappella groups for men, women, and religious affiliations shower the university with perfectly blended harmonies. In addition, sketch comedy and improv troupes provide hilarious entertainment at events all over campus. This school never stops…

3. Big 10 is BIG Fun
Even though our school does not have a mascot, or much of a winning streak in football, the school spirit is contagious on campus. IU not only gives me the opportunity to study what I love, but it also gives me the opportunity to be a kid and enjoy college. The directors of the BFA program here are huge advocates of our liberal arts education, and they encourage us to seek out events that will make us grow as humans in addition to as artists. I am infatuated with my sorority, I tailgate for football games, and I have a blast. My training, rehearsals, and overall well-being always take priority over my social life, but I am so fortunate that I can actually interact with "normal" people. After all, in acting class, how am I supposed to act like a "normal" member of society if I never see life outside the crazy theater bubble? Just my thought…

But really. In warmer weather, a sea of green grass, overarching trees, and cheerful flowers lay the foreground for rustic, stone buildings with a New England flare. And when it snows, a thick blanket of white fluff adds a majestic ambiance to the air. Sometimes I find myself walking around campus having a really hard time believing that I actually live here. Not only is the campus itself breathtakingly gorgeous, but all the vast, inviting open space is filled with students sketching, jamming, or simply taking it all in.

The Art Museum is conveniently located right next to the Theatre building, so I wander into the building (constructed so that structurally, nothing is a perfectly straight line) to seek new (and free) inspiration. Across the street, I spend hours being entertained at the IU auditorium, where national tours of shows perform and documentaries are screened for free.

5. The BFA Program
This program and the people involved in it comprise some of the most welcoming, inspiring, motivating people I have ever worked with. George Pinney, Ray Fellman, and Terry LaBolt do an unbelievable job making sure their students receive the best training possible. They constantly bring in guest faculty for master classes, go to New York to stay updated in the Broadway scene, and spend countless hours meticulously researching the industry. Each grade has about 10 people, which gives everyone individualized attention. George, Ray, and Terry reach out to us as mentors and friends, and my relationship with each of them has laid such a strong foundation of trust and support. I cannot fathom an environment that harbors negative energy and fear of accessing your inner artist. I feel safe to make mistakes and fail miserably in class, because I know I have an entire support group waiting to catch my fall.

Sometimes the training process leads to frustration or the vulnerability of something extremely personal to access, and sharing those intimate moments with people can be frightening. Fortunately, the 11 insanely talented people I am proud to call my classmates fill the learning space with positivity and support. The perpetual love that we have for one another is so strong that it makes me emotional to even type about. Genuinely, we want the best for one another. Of course we all want to get cast in shows, but if one of us does over another, we know that the part was not right for us and are truly happy for the other person. I cannot believe I get to spend countless hours with such down-to-earth, goofy, hard-working classmates. Inspiration inevitably flows in and out of me, and growing together makes for the best memories. The entire program feels like such a family, and I am so lucky to love what I do and who I am surrounded by.

In case you did not yet conclude this, I really LOVE my school. I am an Indiana Hoosier. I am one of thousands, but I am one ingredient of the elixir that defines the Hoosier nation. The many cultures that make up this school all contribute to what it means to be a Hoosier, and I am proud to leave my mark in that history.


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