Finding Identity On and Off the Stage

Denlinger playing Nils Krsogstad in "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen.

Adjusting to college life can be intimidating for anyone, maybe more so for a home-schooler, but that wasn’t the case for Aaron Denlinger (’12). He was home-schooled from kindergarten to 12th grade, but he believes his decade of theatre involvement helped him make a smooth transition.

His first role was in the South Bend Civic Theater’s production of “Oliver” where Denlinger played Oliver Twist. He has also held roles in the theater’s company productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Belles on Their Toes,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hello Dolly” and “My Fair Lady.”  At Bethel, he’s been involved in productions like “A Doll’s House,” “Christmas Belles,” “Don’t Tell Mother” and “Jane Eyre.”

“When I become invested in the character I’m portraying, I start to explore what makes this person behave in the way they do, and this careful analyzing can even help me learn more about myself.”

Not only has his theater involvement helped him in his self-discovery process, but this graphic design major gained mentors and friendships from attending Bethel.

“I can be walking on campus and run into professors from my very first semester at Bethel, and they will stop what they’re doing to talk to me, remembering my name and treating me with importance like I were still a student in their class.”

He’s also grateful for friendships he created with guys from his freshman year and recalls enjoyable memories from living in Oakwood-Slater, the freshman men’s residence hall.

“Whether it was playing card games in the lobby, shooting laser tag in the hallways, or taking mattresses from peoples’ beds and hiding them in the stairwells, there was always something fun going on.”

Denlinger and his group of friends created a tight bond and ended living together in the same house for his sophomore and junior years of college. In all of these life experiences, he feels he’s matured and is pretty confident about the future.

“Outside of classes, college life has taught me to live independently, make my own decisions and to do my own laundry.”

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