I am from a small town in Southwest Oklahoma.

So, in essence, I am from a part of this country where football is as important as going to church on Sunday. I've never been one for sports. I spent my childhood hiding in the back of the classroom too scared to raise my hand for fear of people looking at me.

When I was in junior high, I decided to take drama as my elective for some reason I can't even explain to this day. I fell in love immediately. I found that I loved to talk in front of people; I loved to perform. When I got to high school, competitive theatre became my way of life. It's what I dedicated all of my free time to.

I spend a majority of my high school career frustrated as I realized people didn't care nearly as much about the "theatre geeks," "band nerds," and "art kids" as they did football players, wrestlers, and basketball stars. When something had to be cut from the school budget, art was one of the first to go.

Theatre, communications, and creative writing were all gone in my town by the time I graduated. We have no community theatre. All I knew when I came to college was that I wanted to be an actress and how soon I realized I didn't know anything when I got here.

I became an orientation leader at my University this last summer and I was in charge of all of the incoming theatre/dance/music majors both performance and education. It hurt me to hear in every single session at least one of my students had a story of how their school was de-funding, downsizing, or getting rid of theatre and music programs altogether.

I have seen what art can do for someone. Kids, who would never speak a word, gradually became chatty and smiled more. Theatre was my escape. It was (and still is) the way I express myself. How beautiful it is to expand one's creativity and learn what it is to completely throw yourself into something. So many employers are looking for students with liberal arts degrees because of the creativity and critical thinking they can bring to the professional work field.

Everything we do, look at, and enjoy is the product of art. Every poster, CD, CD cover, magazine, book, movie, song, the laptop you look at is a result of an artist. How have we forgotten how important that is? I implore you, the next time you're ready to disregard "the starving artist" think of your favorite song, book, piece of art, etc. and thank them instead. They've poured everything they have to make what you love possible.