As I finished my last year of studying technical theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, I would have never imagined myself at the Bolz Center only fifteen months later. At that point, I had achieved a certain level of excellence in leadership and production in my time there and I knew my future was in stage management. Oddly enough, the things that we know are not always true.
When the world fell apart over disease, I discovered I had my own to wrestle with. A diagnosis for an autoimmune disease eventually cleared up the mystery, but in the moment all I knew was that I didn’t have energy to walk to class anymore.
After graduation, I began the arduous task of defining my pain. Doctor appointments and tests filled the calendar, but I couldn’t find any answers. All the while my health was clearly getting worse. There was quite literally a deadline waiting for me, and I did not want to reach it. I switched doctors and redoubled my efforts. Then suddenly, it came, a diagnosis. Relieved and anxious for solutions, I assessed the information ready to move forward, but the excitement was short lived.
I had my definition, only it didn’t change anything. There was no fix, no magic pill, no cure to bring back my health. There was no key to the door. This was a door I would have to hack through with my own will power.
These were dark days; I felt hopeless.
It was obvious that the rigorous schedule associated with technical theatre was no longer viable for me. So, I began meandering through the internet looking for other options. That was when I stumbled across the Bolz Center for Arts Administration. An idea captured my mind: if I can’t create the way I used to, maybe I could be a connecting force for the arts.
This new opportunity reawakened my drive. I found a dietitian, researched nontraditional medicines, and began the journey again. The Bolz Center became a critical part of my motivation to heal. As I clawed my way forward, I told myself “Keep going, you have to be ready for grad school this fall.”
When the time came, I was ready. From the beginning, opportunities have been passed my way one after the other until I could barely keep up, but I did. During the fall semester, I got my first taste of connecting artists to the community while organizing an artisan fair at the Chazen Museum of Art. The event was successful beyond expectations. This was what I had worked to reach, so I reveled in the joy of sharing creativity. My appetite grew for the work, and I’m eager to do more.
In the past few years, life has taken many sharp turns for all of us. Though I may not speak for everyone, we seem to be in unexpected places. The pain, tears, and confusion have taken their toll, but I’m happy to be here learning to help people enjoy the artful and beautiful world around them. My time at the Bolz Center is mostly due to the drastic life changes my autoimmune disease brought, but I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.