By Shane Clark
Meredith Chavers, English education sophomore, has worked very hard to get where she is today. Following her passions, working several jobs, and staying on top of all of her studies takes a lot of energy, but she doesn’t want to be anywhere else besides Southwestern.
Chavers was raised in Broken Arrow, Okla., by her uncle and aunt. In the sixth grade Chavers discovered her passion for theatre. “It was my escape from reality,” Chavers said. “It taught me how to be myself by being someone else.”
“I found out about Southwestern through a college fair,” Chavers said. “Leah Hartman handed me a card, and from then on Southwestern continued to contact me.”
Chavers graduated from Broken Arrow High School in May of 2011, and worked through the summer to make enough money to fund the move to Winfield. “It was my first time driving to the campus by myself,” Chavers said. “At the time I was scared, but after being here I realized that the drive here was my drive home.”
During her freshman year, Chavers worked four jobs, 2 work study jobs with the performing arts, 1 work study job with admissions, and the Iron Gate Inn. She was also heavily involved in the theatre department. Her first big role as a college student was stage managing “The Skin of Our Teeth,” by Thorton Wilder. “It was nothing like high school,” Chavers said. “Stage managing was a lot harder than I originally anticipated, but with the help of Roger Moon, and alumni Brooke Rowzee I made it through the whole show.”
Sydney Anderson, elementary education sophomore, also worked as one of the assistant stage managers for “The Skin of Our Teeth.” “It was great to work with Meredith. We were both freshmen who had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, but Meredith had a strong heart and got us through the show,” Anderson said.
For the remainder of the year Chavers performed several other tech roles, such as; hair/make-up, set construction, house management, box office management, and artistic designer. She also acted in “Small Packages,” a theatre showcase from the Directing 1 class.
“My freshman year gave me a lot of experience, and through the whole year I matured a lot,” Chavers said. Toward the end of the year Chavers had a shift of interest and switched her major from speech/theatre education to English education.
“It seemed right. Theatre and English are so closely related that I really didn’t change my interests or passions too much,” Chavers said. “Plus, Southwestern allows you to do several things at once. Even though I moved to the English department, I still got to participate in the theatre department.”
During the summer, Chavers participated in a theatre internship. “I worked during the day with the shows, and at night I got to go to rehearsals.” Chavers not only acted in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” but she also stage managed “Willy Wonka.”
“It was so fun being able to work with the different casts, as well as work with the theatre department during the day.” Chavers said. “Plus “Willy Wonka” featured a large group of young actors, and I got close to every single one of them.”
During the summer Chavers realized that she had to work several jobs during the year to continue her education. “I had to accept the fact that I would have to restrict my participation in the theatre department, but I also had to accept that I would be working harder than I have ever worked before.”
Chavers now holds three jobs. She works at Kathryn’s, The First United Methodist Church, and continues to work for the theatre department. She still gets to participate in the theatre department, and is helping with both of the upcoming fall productions. She had the opportunity to act in “Fools on the Hill,” another theatre showcase by the Directing 1 class.
“I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do the things I wanted to do this year, but it turns out I still have time for theatre, my education, my friends, and even myself,” Chavers said. “I have found my home, and I share it with my amazing family that I discovered here at SC.”
Katy Buffum, accounting junior, is Chavers’s roommate. “I have a lot of respect for Meredith. She works hard, but still has time to hang out and joke around,” Buffum said. As Chavers’s roommate, Katy tries her best to help Chavers with her schedule. “We have a set time for homework every night, and we even help each other study for our classes.”
“I’m glad I never gave up, and I wouldn’t change anything that has happened because I love what has become of my life,” Chavers said.
Shane Clark is a sophomore majoring in theatre performance and theatre/speech education. You may e-mail him at email@example.com