Scholarship Winner – Autumn


The Improv Collective Business Card


Autumn & Improv Card

There are many sayings about what home is, that there is no place like it, that it is where your heart is, or even that it is where going to the bathroom is most comfortable. However, home is not always a location, and it isn’t for me. I did not grow up in an incredibly stable household. I watched my mother get fired, hired, quit, and rehired. I watch my father battle alcoholism, live out of his truck for a stint, and desperately work to receive his GED before I received my diploma. I watched a man become my step father, and shortly after leave our family. I moved around a lot, once in Riverside through Invitation Homes, and when that stepfather left us, was even homeless for a summer between eighth and ninth grade. As a result, material things began to mean less and less to me. This became especially true when I became old enough to pack and move my own things; the less I had, the less I had to pack the next time we moved. Because of this lack of value in material possessions, much of what I had prior to moving into my college dorm, had not come into my possession until just before moving into that dorm. My Improv Collective business cards are some of these newer items.

I define home as a place where you feel that, without a shadow of doubt, you belong. Most often that place is defined by the people who share that space with you. Those people become a family that you create for yourself, most often without blood relation. The Improv Collective was where I found my home, and my family. For the two years leading up to my transfer to [School], I performed with a hole in the wall improv troupe near Newport Beach, California called the Improv Collective. I also earned the title of Production Manager while I was there, and while the title meant very little at the small non-profit theater, it meant the world to me to have been given those business cards.

The players at this theater were the first people in my entire life who accepted, and even encouraged me to be the oddball that I am. For the first time I felt like I could be my authentic self, not a stifled and muted version of myself that would help me to blend in. They helped me to transition out of an abusive relationship, and into meeting the love of my life. Supporting me as family would, and teaching me what it meant to be true to yourself, and unafraid of change and making decisions. The Improv Collective taught me to go with my gut, that there are very few bad choices, some choices just need a little extra justification, and that’s okay. I am certain that without this last lesson, I would not have gone on to pursue any education higher than an Associate’s degree.

This is why a couple of truly meaningless business cards mean so much to me, and why I keep them around even though the phone numbers and addresses on the card are even out dated. To me, the cards represent the first time that a young girl, living in an alienating and belittling relationship, felt like she mattered to a group of people. So I keep them, even though I will likely never use them again. To remind myself that just because I am in Arizona, over six hundred miles away from the theater, doesn’t mean that I don’t matter to my old cast members. It may be years before I perform, laugh, and play with my family at my authentic home again, but I made an impact on that little theater. More importantly, that theater made an impact on me. As I go on my journey through higher education, and afterwards through life, I will take with me the authentic self that the Improv Collective taught me to be, showing her to the world, and keeping the love and the lessons that I felt there close to my heart, always.


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