Culture Shock. It’s not something you’d think a New Yorker would get. But Liz Deegan '12, hailing from New York state, received an ample dose of it when she first showed up in Lamoni.
It was a sticky August night, and she was staying at a hotel on the outskirts of town. She found herself looking around at Lamoni farmland and feeling a tad lost. But the next morning, when the Deegan family headed into town, Liz began to feel a strange mix of confusion and warmth.
“Everywhere we went in town, people were so friendly, they kept smiling at me and waving and asking how I was,” said Liz. “I kept thinking, ‘Do they know me?’ I was so sure they had to. We don’t do that in New York. You don’t look at people you don’t know, let alone wave at them and say, ‘Hi, how are you?’”
And while these things were shocking at first, three years later, Lamoni's open fields and small-town friendliness are things that Deegan finds comforting.
“I have so many options open to me. Being at Graceland has showed me that things are within my reach.”
Deegan transferred to Graceland in fall ’09. Graceland was a school Deegan knew a minimal amount about, which was something that enticed her.
“I wanted to go somewhere I had no preconceived notions about. I wanted to go someplace that I had never heard of before,” said Deegan.
And though she initially came to Iowa knowing very little about Graceland, she’s now one of the most knowledgeable students on campus, thanks to her work as Editor-in-Chief and Layout Editor of the student newspaper The Tower. Deegan is a notable face in the Honors Program, presenting scholarly material in North Dakota at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference last year. Deegan has also become a notable student in the Art Department, something she wasn’t expecting.
“Before I came here I had lost a lot of my interest in art. But I vividly remember [Art Professor] Julia Franklin talking about how she views art and how she’s an artist. Her definition was so open, I was awed,” said Liz. “It showed me I can be an artist and be an English major. It opened things up for me. I feel boundless.”
It was experiences like this, as well as encouragement from Art Professor Rob Stephens, that prompted Liz to add a third major, Art: Visual Communications. Liz recently wrapped up her senior art show “Daydream Johnny Productions” where she expressed her love for art and her passion for film-making.
After her graduation this May, Liz will be making graduate school preparations. She says she’d eventually like to get her Ph.D. and become a college professor, noting that her close connections with Graceland faculty have taught her that professors can be “human beings outside of their doctorate”.
In the meantime, Liz hopes to further develop her interests in film making and to complete her first comic book.
“Graceland has made me realize what I want to accomplish,” said Liz. “Being here and being in such a great environment has made me fearless in who I am and how I want to be.”