October 6, 2016 at 4:45pm
Tyler Hixson ’15

Tyler Hixson ’15A degree at Millikin is unique in its calculated approach to Performance Learning. Perhaps this is not true of all universities, but any Millikin alum can confirm it. As I approach my final days as an undergraduate student, I can say with certainty that my experiences in Performance Learning were the base of my education.
For two years, I worked as production manager for Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre at Millikin. For students interested in combining theatre and business, this student-run venture offers an opportunity unlike any other. When I began, I expected my responsibilities to lie solely in overseeing the technical aspects of each show. Little did I know that Performance Learning at Pipe Dreams actually meant an education in nonprofit management, event sales, development, grant writing, financial management, social media marketing, contract writing, video/audio production and even a fair bit of carpentry and electrics, among other skills. And, even though it came as a surprise, it was the finest piece of education I have ever received.

There is a certain unconquerable disconnect that strangles the classroom setting. Even when students embark on challenging individual projects, there is a safety net. Everything is done in theory, in a classroom. You can never capture the whole concept of anything until you attempt it on your own. Not until the safety net is burned and abandoned.

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And no, we did not sleep. But we didn’t need to. Because it became clear to us, as it is still crystal clear to me, that Performance Learning was what we were at Millikin to do.

My diploma reads “Tyler Hixson: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Administration; Minor: Entrepreneurship.” These words can never even come close to representing the experience I’ve gained far outside the realm of my field of study. And perhaps they shouldn’t.  

Tyler Hixson of Monticello, Ill., completed his bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre administration and a minor in entrepreneurship last December. He was a recipient of the Scovill Prize, the highest honor awarded by the university to traditional undergraduate students, and also received the Michelle Chartier Memorial Award. A James Millikin Scholar, Hixson’s JMS undergraduate research project was an investigation into the best practices of nonprofit governance.

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