Elizabeth Duis

From Bearcat to Bulldog

by Elizabeth Duis ’20

I can barely hear my own applause as Clowes Memorial Hall erupts for the final bow. Somehow, I’m smiling, crying, and overwhelmed by everything that I’ve just seen all at once. As my parents guide me out the door and to our car, I find myself longing to stay. But I know that the two-hour car ride home will be filled with joy, laughter, and talk of what we’ve just seen.

The irony of this story is that I can’t even remember which musical I’m describing…or perhaps this accurately describes all of them. Being blessed with the ability to see professional, live theatre at such a young age has drastically influenced my life. And it all started at a single venue, at a single university.

Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University: everything about the venue, from the grand lobby to the crisp red seats to the proscenium stage, was mesmerizing to me. I’m not sure if it was my naivety, curiosity, or just a gut feeling, but the place felt like home. I remember feeling like I had taken a palpable breath of fresh air whenever I entered the theatre. It was a feeling that I attempted to take home with me and recreate on the Milford High School stage. I wanted to make people feel how I had felt when the curtain fell, in awe of art that had unfolded before me.

Art brings people together. Often, it is an intangible force that inspires a sense of awe and, in this case, generates applause. It’s also the force that led me to Butler University, and thus, to my future.

I was a Milford High School Bearcat, small-town girl born and raised, with this innate desire for more than what surrounded me. By my senior year of high school, I felt like I had accomplished all of my goals and began searching for my next adventure.

Disclaimer, folks: the college search is hard. So much is thrown at you as an 18-year-old that it is confusing to know where to even begin. So, I made the logical decision and started with what I already knew: there was a private university in Indianapolis with a performance venue that I loved.

I knew I wanted be near a city, but I didn’t want to be in Chicago. I knew I wanted a major that allowed me to focus on art (specifically theatre), but I didn’t want to solely perform it. And I knew I wanted a much bigger feel than my 200-student high school, but I didn’t want to be lost in a sea of 40,000 other students. In other words, I was a basket of contradictions searching for my Goldilocks school that felt “just right.”

My first visit to Butler University was my first college visit, period. It was a beautiful, sunny day to walk around campus and learn about the university. I learned about the city of Indianapolis and Butler’s proximity to it. I learned about the Arts Administration program that allowed me to pursue the managerial side of the arts while still incorporating performing. And I learned about the faculty-to-student ratio that allowed a university of about 5,000 undergrads to get broken down into class of 20. Essentially, Butler fit the bill in every single category.

You know that feeling when you love the first thing you try, but you’re not sure if that’s because you actually love it or because you have no frame of reference? That’s how I felt. I needed reassurance. Well, allow me to assure you, I attended several college visits after that one, and nothing compared to the feeling of home I got while being on Butler’s campus.

Coming to Butler was truly one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was a decision that led me to my best friends, my proudest moments, and some of my dearest memories. Since coming to Butler, I have performed in several college-level productions, added in an entirely new course of study (Strategic Communication) to my degree track, and got engaged to my best friend, right on the steps of the bell tower. I have grown more as a person in these two years than I ever had before. You see, Butler does that to you. It challenges you, strengthens you, roots for you, paves a way for you, and welcomes you home.

Art put Butler on the map for me. It was a seed that was planted in me at a young age that came into full bloom this last semester when I worked a very special internship at, you may have guessed it, Clowes Memorial Hall. During my time there, I was able to give people that exhilarating feeling I had felt during every curtain call. In fact, it’s the same feeling I would like to dedicate my career to giving other people.

I’m so excited for that day when I walk across the stage in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse and set out to make my mark on the world, but for now, I still have work to do here. Because I’m no longer a Bearcat…I’m a Bulldog.

From Bearcat to Bulldog