For 2020 we’re asking students and alumni of Kentucky’s independent colleges and universities to share stories about their college experiences in a new series we’re calling AIKCU Voices. If you’d like to share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Jeremy Cloyd. I graduated in 2015 with a BA in Theatre and a BA in English from Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky. I grew up only 45 miles away in Tompkinsville, KY. Interestingly enough, I did not choose LWC initially. I told myself repeatedly that there was no way I would go to a college so small and so close to my hometown. Aside from that, I wanted to pursue theatre, and there was only a minor in theatre offered at LWC in 2011 when I was applying – so why would I choose Lindsey?
Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That is exactly what got me to Lindsey and inevitably what kept me at Lindsey. I was intent on attending a larger state school. In fact, I only applied to Lindsey Wilson because an admissions counselor sat me down in the cafeteria and talked me through the application before I could leave for my daily internship. I had completely forgotten about LWC until the larger state institution sent me three emails, all of which were addressed to an eight digit number rather than “Jeremy.” The emails were vague and told me nothing about what I needed to do to become a part of their school. That same night, Sara Hargis (now Sara Foos), the admissions counsellor who had talked me through the application process, had a student ambassador call me to inform me that I was now eligible to compete for something called the Begley Scholarship. From there I sent dozens of emails to Sara, all of which were answered excitedly with both my name in the message and ways in which Sara could see me at Lindsey Wilson College. After bugging Sara for months, both in person and over the phone, about everything from financial aid to classes to housing, I finally ended up at Lindsey, and the rest seemed to fall into place. All of this to say, I don’t remember a single thing that the larger school did for me or offered me, but I remember how they made me feel: like a number.
Coming from a very small high school, which graduated around 140 my senior year, expectations were fairly low for what I could do with my life. I constantly asked myself: “how can a guy from a town whose largest attraction is the Watermelon Festival each year, ever do the things that he dreamed of?” That is where the biggest shock of all came. From the first day I set foot on LWC’s campus, I learned that a small school doesn’t mean fewer opportunities, in fact it meant MORE opportunities for anyone willing to ask.
I had the honor of being a part of numerous organizations at LWC, including the Lindsey Wilson Singers. The Lindsey Wilson Singers have taken me all over the country and the world. I have been on tours in the southeast, New England, the midwest, and the east coast. I was also blessed with the opportunity to go to Europe and perform in Paris, France as part of the Paris Choral Festival. I could talk all day about the amazing places I have gone and things I have done with the Lindsey Wilson Singers, but what I need to tell you is that Maya Angelou’s quote holds true here as well. I may forget the details of each tour and each concert, I may forget what the tux looks like, and I may forget the names of the songs we sang, but I will never forget the family I was a part of with the Lindsey Wilson Singers.
Singers was a large part of my college experience, but clearly not the only factor. Coming into LWC I was immediately enrolled in my first college level acting class. I knew that there was only a minor for theatre here, but I also knew I still needed to have theatre in my life so I decided that was what I was going to do: minor in theatre. I became acquainted very quickly with this funny and sarcastic professor, Robert Brock. Little did I know that not only would he become one of my favorite professors academically, but he would become someone that I look up to and to whom I owe so much. In my Sophomore year, Robert came to me with this crazy question “If we were to have a major in theatre, would you want to pursue that?” I thought: “What kind of a question is that? Of course I would!”
Now I have to stop here to mention that I was in another major before this and called my parents at least once a semester for 4 semesters having a complete meltdown because I didn’t think I wanted to do that major but that it was “a stable career field” – whatever that means. So I changed my major, I traveled to New York City and worked with members of TWO broadway revivals of musicals, traveled to the American Shakespeare Center to watch amazing shows and do workshops, traveled to North Carolina for an audition that landed me a job for the most amazing summer of my life working in theatre, and even traveled to NYC again to audition for graduate schools and speak with their representatives. During my undergraduate career, I was in or worked on over 20 productions in my time at LWC. Again there are a million things I could say about the things I was told in classes and what I learned during each show, but it means much more to me that I felt like someone truly believed in me and supported my wild dreams and crazy ambitions.
Upon graduating from LWC, I had several decisions to make about what I was going to do and where I was going to go. To bridge this, I accepted an internship with TheatreFest!, the summer theatre at LWC. While in this, I was offered the opportunity to stay on with LWC the following year working for AmeriCorps and doing several things with the Theatre Program, not the least of which was producing and directing a reader’s theatre production that highlighted latinx stories from Appalachia. While this position was drawing to an end, I was still searching for the next opportunity. Luckily, LWC wasn’t done with me yet. In 2016 I accepted a new position as the Assistant to the Director of Theatre. Up until this point, the Theatre Program was completely made up of one professor who had come to the college from a long career in professional theatre. While serving in this new position I was able to complete an MA in Theatre and begin teaching for the Theatre Program as an Adjunct Instructor.
This January I was fortunate enough to be named an Instructor of Theatre and begin working full time as a faculty member in the very program that helped to shape me as an artist and a person. While I have both worked professionally and taught Theatre, I find that none of what I have been able to accomplish would be possible without the education and opportunities presented to me while attending LWC. I can only hope now that I am able to inspire in my students the same trust in themselves that I had in 2015 when I walked across the stage and shook President Luckey’s hand knowing that I had everything I needed to begin my life and career, and a family that supported me every step of the way.
There’s a popular hashtag on twitter that supports this: #LWCisFamily. And this couldn’t be more true. No matter where I end up, I will always remember Lindsey Wilson College. LWCisFamily, and that is what I want to continue for years after I have left. I want people to say that I made them feel like family.
Lindsey Wilson College ’15
Instructor of Theatre, LWC