As a University Ambassador, at the end of each of my tours, I tell what we call a “Why Ohio State Story.” Essentially, it’s a Cliff Notes version of how and why I chose to be a student at The Ohio State University.
I felt overwhelmed when deciding on a school; I’ve never been good at making decisions. I applied into the University Exploration program with no idea of what I wanted to do with my life, my career or my major.
I have always loved music. In fifth grade, I enrolled in the orchestra program as a cellist, and from there, I found my passion and my community. I loved it. I had never been so excited to go to class, to work hard at something. I met many friends in orchestra, several of whom are still my good friends today. I have had incredible opportunities through music, and upon graduating, I knew it was something I couldn’t give up in college.
My senior year of high school, I watched my friend perform with the Ohio State Symphony Orchestra, and seeing him on the Weigel Auditorium stage, I knew that I wanted that for myself.
He helped me find opportunities for non-music majors including two minors and a multitude of ensembles. Those opportunities set the university apart from others I had considered. A year later, I stood where he stood, bowing proudly after my first college concert. Ohio State made that happen.
I had signed up for the First Year Undergraduate String Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to giving non-music majors the opportunity to continue playing in college. It was one of the best decisions I made.
As a freshman, it’s hard to find your place. But walking into the orchestra room and picking up my cello, I felt an instant sense of belonging and familiarity. We were all there as non-music majors who just couldn’t give up performing.
A few weeks into the class, members of Sigma Alpha Iota presented to us about their music and service-based organization. Upon hearing their pitch, I attended meetings, got to know the members, and now am finishing up my first full year of membership, feeling more closely connected to the School of Music.
I continued, my second year, to the Ohio State University Community Orchestra, another ensemble open to all. These opportunities were a hugely impactful part of the beginning of my undergraduate career.
When I went to schedule courses for Autumn 2019, I learned that the Community Orchestra might be disbanded due to a lack of funding. I instantly wanted answers. I’ve heard about arts programs being cut from public K-12 schools. I’ve done projects on the issue. But for it to happen to the third largest university in the country? I couldn’t believe it.
I get it. If a donor gives money with the intention of it going to the Athletics Department, the University must give it to the Athletics Department. It can’t just send donor money to wherever it sees fit. That makes sense. However, we must recognize that some programs don’t have access to the same funding and resources. Does this mean that some students are being valued over others?
This is not about getting the best equipment or state of the art facilities. This is about providing opportunities for students, regardless of skill level or major. It’s about making sure that students can be involved in classes and organizations that mean something to them. Students should never have to give up a passion just because the school is underfunded.
The arts community is increasingly facing bias by society as a whole. We see it in the cuts made to arts programs when budgets get tight. Ohio State put me on the Weigel Auditorium stage the first time. Let’s ask them how we can keep students like me there. Who can we contact? How can we get that funding? Who can we get answers from? How can we make a difference?
Please, don’t take away my “Why Ohio State.”