As a tour guide, I field many questions about what it’s like here as a student on campus. I think one thing that I don’t get to stress enough, though, is the community that you get being a Wildcat. It’s incredible to be able to walk down Sheridan Road and see many faces who you don’t know and then also many faces who you do know. You feel community walking to class. Maybe you’re like me and are two minutes late from Norris because the Dunkin line was a little bit long but you needed your coffee. Then, walking to class, you see someone you know. In that moment even though your life is pretty frantic, everything is okay. You hug, you jump for joy, you high-five… you something. But that something, at least for me, really brightens my day and is a typical example of a Wildcat-to-Wildcat interaction.
As a senior, I’ve continued to notice these little moments where Wildcats are there for one another. I saw it when my friend and peer Allie Woodson did a reading of her self-written play, “These Days” in Shanley Pavilion. The theater was packed to the brim. At the end, we all gave Allie a standing ovation and you could tell how much the experience meant to her. I saw it when the Cubs won the World Series. While I’m not from Chicago, the excitement that my friends from the area felt was contagious. The celebration that I was able to share with my peers was amazing.
My Wildcat community has become more and more important to me. Personally, I’ve struggled this year with how frequently I disagree with our new President. I’m grateful for how this community continues to lift me up. The morning after the election, I felt the community in my acting class. Usually, the black box theater where we have our class is filled with noise and excitement. That morning though it was eerily quiet. Our professor walked in and the conversation that proceeded was cathartic. These moments of collective emotion are what make this community so special. You might not agree with your peers on every issue, but the empathy that Wildcats are able to show to each other is something truly unique.
The moment that solidified what this community meant to me was through a theatre project called The Ghostlight Project. This was a project that theatres across the country participated in. While it took place the night before the inauguration, it was not a project of protest. This was a project where you, as a theatre, could reaffirm your support to people of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities, religions, etc. by adding light into the world. As a co-chair of The Waa-Mu Show, we were approached by the Wirtz Center and the Theatre Department to participate in the project here on campus. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the lobby of the Barber Theatre. Many of us had had a long day, many of us had many other things to do that evening. But, together, we gathered. We sang, we laughed. We all turned on lights at the same time and it was a sight I will never forget.
The Northwestern community is strong and resilient. We stand together for each other through it all. Being a Wildcat is a special part of my identity that I share with many other students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Having that one thing in common allows for a special community to be created here on campus. It’s something that, through the highs and lows, has made me love my Northwestern experience.