GABRIELLA WILTZ

To: Class of 2017

IMG_4089A mere nineteen days ago thousands of Buckeyes donned their graduation gowns and their fanciest caps to grab their degrees. To be honest, when I sat down I thought it’d been at least a month. Post-grad is weird.

Personally, I’m not having the easiest time processing this transition just yet. I’m still in my “Netflix all day” stages of relaxation with only fleeting ideas of a plan for my future swirling around in my mind. Although I’m choosing not to really dive into my personal feelings at the moment, I have no problem talking about my incredible classmates.

Dear Department of Dance Class of 2017,

I only felt tears rushing to my eyes one time during graduation weekend and that was when I watched Susan Hadley call your names and list off your achievements. As the last person in our graduating class, I had the pleasure of watching some of the most amazing artists I know bask in the glory of their praise. I got emotional because I know how hard each and every one of you worked from day one to be the most intelligent and mindful dancers, scholars, educators and choreographers I know. As the applause rained down on you all, and rightfully so, I thought about how indebted I am to each of you to have been that last person to walk across that stage.

They’ve called us the Amazing Freshmen since day one and I’ve honestly felt it from our first sweaty class in Pomerene. I was away from home and the life that had been created for me and I thank God everyday that I was placed in the company of such unique individuals. The way each of you stood in your 18-year-old truths our first year together, both as dancers and young adults, inspired a young brown girl who was used to standing in the shadows to just shine. We’ve always rooted each other on. We’ve partied together. We’ve laughed together. Some of us have cried together, but it’s always been us—the Amazing Freshmen.

I am constantly overwhelmed by your greatness, guys. The first time we sat in senior seminar and talked about what was important to us… my heart wanted to explode. We have all truly stepped into our own so unapologetically. I watched each of you create work that spoke to what is important in your heart and soul. I listened to you speak your minds and share your points of views. I’ve felt you, the way art often moves people. Each of you have honestly, truly, changed my life.

In this melting pot of dance artists from all over with different goals, dreams and aesthetics, I never felt out of place with this group. There are no carbon copies in this bunch! It’s astounding to think about how all of us could manage to stand out in a sea of outstanding creatives. That’s us though, always just doing the damn thing. I hope we never lose the thing that has made us great from jump: our willingness to seize every opportunity, go for what we want, lend a helping hand and make our dance community better with every chance we got.

I wouldn’t be who I am today without each and every one of you. Whether we met at orientation or you filed in later in the journey, each of you have etched a tiny part of my heart forever. I know you’re all going to do great things.

We’re going to do great things.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being yourselves always. Thank you for encouraging me to do that same. Thank you for never letting me feel alone. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for sparking my mind. Thank you for warming your heart. Thank you for always being open. Thank you for constantly growing and yet, thank you for never changing.

You’re stuck with me now, guys. There is no getting rid of me. Congrats to the Amazing Freshmen! May we continue to amaze the world.

Xo,

Gabë

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