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HOPE: Pursuing a degree in theater

Jackie Hope

Two things you need to know about me. First, I am a student at Dickinson State, pursuing a degree in theater. Second, I am kinda thick between the ears at times. Put those two things together, and the results can be, well, let me explain.

Now I am not exactly on the four-year plan for college graduation. In fact, at the rate I am accumulating credits, I will probably be a proud member of the 2025 graduating class.

I select classes the same way I select shoes. I see a class in art history, and I think, "Ooooo, pretty pitctures. I am so gonna take that." I see a class in acting, and I think, "Costumes! I can wear all sorts of cool shoes and hats. I am so gonna take that."

But there are certain core courses I need to take to actually get a degree in theater. I'm afraid looking at pretty pictures in art class is not very core-ish for theater. But painting pretty scenes on the stage flats is, so there you go.

There are also general education courses that all students have to take, and pass, in order to get a degree. Like math. Yes. Math.

Many years ago, in the second half of the last century, I actually went to college and got a four-year liberal arts degree. And somehow I proficiencied the math requirements. So happy, happy, joy, joy — I do not need to retake math.

And I am hoping against hope that I do not have to take any gym classes. Back in the day, I studied fencing. Back in the day, I could run away and hide really fast. I am no longer that fast, so I hope I don't have to take any more gym classes.

Someone told me there used to be a swimming requirement. You had to know how to swim to get a degree. Honestly, the only way I can get across a pool is to sink to the bottom, and then run like crazy. So I am thankful there is no longer a swimming requirement. Like I said, I can't run as fast as I used to.

Since I am matriculating slowly — that is education talk for taking classes at the speed of molasses — I am all about getting additional credit hours whenever I can.

And here comes the thick between the ears part.

I was lucky enough to be cast in this fall's musical, "The Great American Trailer Park Musical." It was pretty cool. They let me sing whatever notes I could find. Sometimes I even found the right notes. And they let me dance so long as I did not step on the other girls. And everybody was really nice to me, even when I sometimes forgot my lines.

It was wonderful fun, and when the professor asked us if we would like "production credit" for the course, of course I said, "Ya, you betcha!" Heck, with some extra credit, I might be able to graduate in 2024.

Then I got a note from the nice ladies in administration, telling me there was a hold on my spring courses because I owed tuition fees. Wait, what? I always pay my bills on time. This had to be a mistake.

Oh snap, it was the fee for my "production credit" for acting in the musical. Thick between the ears as I am, I did not even think about the fact that I had to pay for that credit. Well all righty, then, I ended up paying to act in a play.

I gladly paid my fees. Considering my singing, I am lucky I did not get charged more.