Matthew A. Murphy '06

Matthew A. Murphy '06 profile pic

As I turned 19, I wasn’t sure I would last at Lawrence. It was the spring term of my freshman year – my first of a supposed five years as a double degree student. My grades were falling, my progress as a horn player was non-existent, and I hadn’t even thought about a major in college. A few of my friends, sensing I needed a change, convinced me to audition for a student-run musical. Improbably, I was cast. It was like being shot out of a cannon. Within weeks, I had come out as both gay and a theater major. By the next term, I had come out from behind my French horn to pursue a voice major instead. My schedule became overloaded with classes and ensembles; I auditioned for every production I could; I studied abroad at a theater school in Dublin. By my junior year, I started creating my own independent projects and learned as much from those as I did from my coursework. I sometimes bit off more than I could chew: stage directing AND music directing a full-scale musical comes to mind, as does waiting until the night before to memorize two monologues for my first-ever Shakespeare audition (spoiler alert: it did not go well). But at every turn, my faculty mentors gave me the freedom to succeed, to fail, and to keep trying over and over again. They knew it was what I needed to grow. Looking back at those days, I see the roots of how I now describe myself: motivated; curious; on good days, fearless; on my best days, fabulous. It’s easy enough to say that Lawrence taught me to “learn by doing,” but that doesn’t give the school enough credit. Lawrence taught me that the surest way to learn and grow is by living authentically; that only by pushing yourself to your limits can those limits be stretched. As I turned 19, I wasn’t sure I would last at Lawrence. At 39, I can’t imagine my life without it.