I’m a part of a fraternity, and I still get chills thinking about one gathering my brothers hosted with Outlook, a student organization committed to educating the campus about LGTBQ+ issues and offering support to those who need it. When I looked around the room, I saw more than the stereotypical “LGTBQ+ people” and “fraternity bros.” It was just a room full of people who were interested in putting differences aside, finding similarities, and engaging in meaningful conversations. It showed that stereotypes don't have to be a barrier to creating friendships.
Service. Community. Collaboration.
Whether it’s research with a professor or another student, or staging a performance, or pooling our efforts to help someone in need, or just living every day in the res halls—we are working together, figuring out what needs to be done, and doing it.
One of the best examples of collaboration that I've been a part of was the “Iron Triangle Show” last year. I am a member of Denison’s improv comedy troupe, Burpee's Seedy Theatrical Company, and we invited two of the a cappella groups on campus to do a show with us. The “Iron Triangle” was a lost tradition that hadn't been done since the late 1990s. We've been finding ways to take different performing art groups on campus and enhance community between them. Last April, all three groups got together and did a show that almost 200 people attended. It was a huge success, a great example of collaboration and community across the performing arts, and the tradition will continue this year.
I've found that collaboration is key to so many aspects of Denison life. Working as an editor for The Denisonian, our student-run newspaper with ties to The Columbus Dispatch, was sort of like being in a weekly group project with 20 other people. We'd blast Beyoncé, bicker, and laugh in the office. Ultimately, we needed to work together to put out a solid weekly publication, and we couldn't be successful without having each other's backs.
Similarly, Denison Enterprises, which is a student organization that aims to create and empower student businesses on campus, is an inherently collaborative environment. The team ranges from religion and computer science majors, to Jeopardy! champions and graphic designers. Weekly roundtable meetings are filled with rants, random tangents, and a never-ending dialogue about how we can make our campus a better place for students.
Being able to serve as a senator for my class on the Denison Campus Governance Association (DCGA) for two years, as well as being an editor for the school newspaper, The Denisonian, I have learned that working together is a central part of the Denison experience.
Professors regularly assign group projects, and things on campus like D-Day, The Denisonian, and the Martin Luther King Day of Service would not be possible if it weren't for students—as well as faculty, staff, and administrators—working together to make them happen. When you come to Denison, you're coming in and leaving as a collaborator. Period.
Last fall semester, my soccer team and I went to a local apple orchard farm in Newark, Ohio. The couple that ran the orchard told us that if they didn’t pick all of their apples that they would lose their farm. After two hours of apple picking, my teammates and I picked more than 200 pounds in apples and even got to take a few back to Denison. We drove all the apples to a local church, where they were donated to local families in need. The experience was so rewarding, because our team didn’t even know the couple, but they were so grateful that we helped them out. I think that this is a great example of collaboration. Not only did we get to help a local farm in need, we also got to spend time with one another. I will never forget this experience and I hope to do something like it again one day.
My Denison experience is founded on collaboration! Our committee system in DCGA (student government) forces class representatives to work together within their committee, with other committees, and their constituents. Further, I can achieve more by collaborating with other members of my fraternity than any one of us could do individually. And, as an assistant coach for the Women's Varsity Volleyball team, I can work with and learn from an amazing group of women through participation in a sport predicated on teamwork.
Earlier this semester, I went to a Department of Communication colloquium, and I decided to ask several of the professors why they do what they do. The conversation I had with Dr. Gunn changed the way I think about my major. She entered Communication to change the world. I was intrigued by this idea of her career as a vocation. I never realized how communication theory could improve society.
Dr. Gunn’s words inspired me to apply for summer research at Denison. I met with my summer research advisor, Dr. Kirkpatrick, to develop ideas for my project. Dr. Kirkpatrick helped me to focus my thinking, which, in my opinion, is one of the primary roles of a professor. This summer, I will explore the ways in which race and communication inform one another. Thanks to Dr. Gunn, I now know how powerful writing and research are. I hope my summer research project will have a small part in changing the world through communication.
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