I’m A Slow Learner
I’VE BEEN WEARING A SWEATSHIRT today that trumpeted my old college alma mater – well, one of them anyway. It took four different schools for me to finally earn my degree. I attribute that high body count to
1) Moving from one state to another.
2) Not going to class, and
3) Finally getting serious about it all.
My sweatshirt is from Baldwin-Wallace University. Never heard of it? It is one of those school that ranks at the top of the list nationwide, but to most people, it might as well be the University of Neptune.
Baldwin-Wallace, or “B-W” for short, is in Berea, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. It has been around since the 1840s quietly building a reputation and a lovely campus.
B-W is considered the top undergraduate school in the nation, cranking out an endless and talented stream of Broadway bound performers. If you get to New York you will find the theater district filthy with B-W grads.
I came to B-W as a magnificently failed student. My freshman year was at Geneva College in western Pennsylvania where I was raised. Following my first year the family moved to Cleveland and I registered at The Cleveland State University. It took me less than a full year to flunk out with honors.
The problem at CSU was that I discovered the college radio station. After that my appearances in the classroom became hit and miss, mainly “miss.” CSU sent me a nice letter telling me that, since I wasn’t really going to school there, they were going to make it official. In other words, “Go away and don’t come back.”
In an effort to continue the illusion of my “studenthood” I signed up for a few classes at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland – not exactly Harvard, but it was better than continuing to work in the Toy Department at a downtown store. Unless I wanted to have to deal with drunken Santas and shoplifters for the rest of my life I’d better get my act together. Enter Baldwin – Wallace.
B-W took me in as a reclamation project in my opinion. It sure wasn’t for my sterling academic record or my ability to tell questionable jokes.
I entered B-W as a Sophomore/Almost Junior. I was 21 years old with absolutely no clue as to what I wanted to be “when I grew up.”
After a couple of months of no nonsense class work I met Professor Allman, the head of the Theater Dept. Actually I met him after I’d met this tall Amazon of a girl who wanted to try out for a play. I tagged along with her to the auditions. Prof. Allman said that if I didn’t audition I’d have to leave.
I spent the next two years in that theater. It was in there that I fell in love with Theater, education, and my own abilities. I learned that if I could get up on a stage and hold an audience like a lover’s hand, I could do anything.
B-W accomplished with me what I think is the true function of a college. It taught me how to learn. The time spent in any school is limited compared to, God willing, our years after graduation. We will spend our lifetime in a constant learning mode no matter what we do to feed ourselves. B-W prepared me well for my life. It taught me to be flexible, to read other people, and to trust myself and my abilities.
This is a departure from my usual blogging, but looking at my sweatshirt this morning, I just felt the need to say “Thank you” to B-W.
We now return you to our regular program schedule.