The Lawrence Difference

by Olivia Bell on November 22, 2016

Going to Lawrence means there are certain classes that you need to take to graduate. For some this may seem like a burden, when in reality it is an eye opening experience, immersing you in different subjects you wouldn’t normally be learning about. As a math major, I don’t feel like I’m just swimming in math because every term I have had the chance to take another class not required for my major, but many are indeed required for my degree. I’ve taken philosophy, theater, history, english, geology classes and more but this term was something different.
I needed to fulfill my dimensions of diversity credit, and I was very excited to find a class but it was proving to be a difficult task finding one. I saw a flyer in my dorm of ETST 300: Strong Women, Strong Nations: Perspectives of Contemporary Native American Women. I saw it was a brand new class and I readily signed up for it, not knowing what to expect.
Our wonderful Professor, Brigetta Miller. Our wonderful Professor, Brigetta Miller.
I walked in the first day and saw over 20 women sitting in a circle with my new Professor Brigetta Miller, a member of Stockbridge-Munsee, who also teaches in the Conservatory. I think we were all in shock to see just so many beautiful and unique women in the room with so many diverse backgrounds of so many different ages and majors of all sorts. The diversity in that room was eyeopening, and I learned so much in just 10 weeks from all of these incredible women who all had something new to teach me. The class was based around discussion of books that we read, written by Native American women. It was enriching and eye opening; I had rarely been taught about Native American history, so it was even more interesting to learn about Contemporary Native American’s. We also had many Native American speakers that we got to hear as a class; they were incredible and really showed us the contemporary Native American culture.
This is Wade Fernandez, he performs all around the world, and we got to listen to him speak when he came to Lawrence! This is Wade Fernandez, he performs all around the world, and we got to listen to him speak when he came to Lawrence!
The books we read all touched my heart, and the conversations we had were so deep. I usually am very quiet in classes, but this class I knew was a safe space, one where I wouldn’t be judged for any input I made. I saw classmates share their deepest secrets with us, and I could not admire them more for being so brave and courageous. I learned from my peers as well as the readings, we all learned from each other and I ended up learning about many cultures rather than just the Native American tribes. This class changed me as a student; I felt more engaged in the discussions and always made sure I was caught up on all the reading, simply because I was excited to participate, and to be engaged in this class that opened my mind so much every time.
I learned from the incredibly strong women that I was surrounded by. During 10th week we presented our final projects. There was no real criteria, it was just to go off something we had learned in the class, and potentially relate it to something in your life. The projects proved to be more than just interesting, it was an opening into each of the women’s very different lives, and how Native American culture resonated with them in unique ways — no two presentations were alike. It was such a safe space to discuss really tough topics, many topics that I would avoid simply because they were difficult to talk about, but it was a place where we could discuss anything. We knew we all had different opinions and rather than judging each other for it, we respected each other and learned from everyone.
A couple of my amazing classmates, along with other students, standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A couple of my amazing classmates, along with other students, standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I think this is just one example of how great Lawrence University iswe learn from our diverse culture here. We are able to learn from our peers who come from all different backgrounds. I took this class expecting to just learn about Native American culture, which I was very excited about, but instead I learned about even more cultures than just one. If it was not for the requirement I may not have taken this class, or even found it for that matter. This liberal arts college allows me to open my eyes to other topics, cultures and subjects that I wouldn’t have seen if I just stuck strictly to mathematics, and was unable to branch out and learn about other cultures and what they have to teach me. I would suggest this class to anyone; it was an amazing experience about a topic we rarely are taught about. I will cherish all that I learned this term from my class, my peers and my wonderful professor. It was a experience unlike any other, just another reason I am thankful to go to Lawrence University and have opportunities such as this one.

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NATS: A wild weekend for the Vocalists of LU

by Charlotte Noble on November 14, 2016

This past Thursday a bus-load of anxious and excited Lawrence classical and musical theatre singers headed to Milwaukee for an event that was weeks in the making. What could warrant such an affair? The Wisconsin chapter of the NATS competition. While the title may evoke feelings of small bugs that fly into your mouth on an evening bike ride, this acronym stands for National Association of Teachers of Singing and, as their website claims, is “a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the highest standards of singing through excellence in teaching and promotion of vocal education and research.” Each year in each state, the nationwide association brings vocalists of all levels from far and wide to compete against, and learn from each other as a community.

As haughty-taughty and professional as this all sounds, competition weekend was a little more fun for those kiddos from LU. For every student it was an absolute journey, so gather ’round and ol’ Charlotte’s gunna tell you about NATS 2016.

Nats Group Confession: This picture is from NATS 2015. I didn’t get a lot of pictures this year, but this gives you a great idea of how nice us Lawrentians clean up.


The story begins with an approval (or more often strong suggestion) by your voice teacher to participate. Because NATS is an association of teachers, you must be studying with a voice teacher who is a member to enter. Then comes the prep. After months of planning, practicing, learning music, rehearsing with accompanists, learning foreign language diction (trust me it ain’t easy), perfecting character and performing for your peers, the voice majors (and a few non-majors!) pack the bus and head to that year’s location. Last year we had the pleasure to sing at UW Eau Claire, and next year the bus will depart for UW Whitewater. However on November 4th 2016, singers and teachers alike communed at UW Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. As usual, we arrived the night before auditions and stayed together in a hotel. Nothing beats waking up to a complementary breakfast room full of singers filling their tea cups, straightening their ties and blotting their lipstick. The bus left our hotel early, and we were off to Peck for a very full day.

And you bet your buttons I mean that. As the first singer in my division, my 9:00am audition

came quickly. The venue always provides places to warm up the pipes, though with singers from all over Wisconsin hanging around, an open practice room can be hard to find. Luckily, I was able to locate one, warm up and arrive at my audition room early. The competition is split into many divisions based on sex, age/years in school and style of singing (classical or musical theatre). The different divisions have different requirements for audition repertoire, but usually four pieces of contrasting styles, languages and difficulty. Each singer is evaluated by three adjudicators and given a score as well as comments to read later. The scores determine who goes to semi-finals, and finals. By the time the final round is reached, each division is down to three singers—each of which receive a certificate and a lil cash prize for their hard work. Keep in mind: This all happens between 9:00 Friday morning and 3:00 Saturday afternoon. So a crazy 30 hours NATS competition is, indeed.

NATS Selfie Another one from 2015. But this silly selfie of my friend Annie Mercado and I show how NATS brings you together, even when you’re competing against each other!


In these 30 hours, time is spent sprinting from warm up to audition, watching and supporting peers as they perform, running over to the tally room and front desk to get your score sheets, anxiously reloading the NATS website to see if the singers of the next round are posted, and making on the fly decisions for what will happen next. Amidst this madness, something very special happens. The pressure of NATS creates some of the most beautiful diamonds I have witnessed. Though stressed, students gain priceless experience from the weekend, practicing their audition skills and seeing colleagues from other parts of the state perform. Special bonds are formed between the singers from LU as well, whether its outside the audition room, in a congratulatory or empathetic hug, or in the giant Jimmy John’s sandwiches eaten back at the hotel after an incredibly long day. Art, and beauty happen at NATS. I couldn’t be happier to participate each year, even if it is another big bite of hard work to add to my Lawrence plate.

This year Lawrence was lucky enough to see many students go on to semi-finals, and 6 go to finals. Victor Montoyez-Cruz crushed each performance earning third in his division. Lizzie Burmeister and Claire LaLiberte left no dry eye in the audience to gain second in their separate divisions. And not to forget, Froya Olsen and Nick Farenkruk, who wowed everyone to win first in their divisions. Seeing how Lawrence stands against the other music schools of Wisconsin is always fun, as we bring a level of professionalism, artistry and talent that make us so appreciative of our education. While each year brings surprises, joys, stresses and celebrations, NATS will continue to be one of the biggest, and yes wildest, weekends for the singers of LU.

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See Ya Next Year, Lawrence!

June 9, 2016

As I write this between lots of 10th/finals week confusion and craziness, papers, math, lots of study guides and PACKING, it is a nice study break to reflect on the last few weeks of my sophomore year because it has seemed like a blur. A few weekends ago we got to have our sorority’s formal! […]

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It’s the End of the World

June 7, 2016

Finals week is finally here. I’m excited more than anything else. I’ve finished my paper finals and my project finals, having only one genuine exam left. It’s definitely been hard and a lot of work, but so much fun at the same time. I would be lying if I were to say that I won’t […]

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May 31, 2016

That was probably the cheesiest title I could come up with, but beautiful spring deserves such cliches. While walking across the bridge that overlooks the Fox River, one of my close friends looked at me and said “Wow, spring at Lawrence is almost good enough to make you forget about winter at Lawrence.” As I […]

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