Before the acceptance letter and the move-in day and all the excitement of starting your journey as a Johnnie, you must first encounter the gaggle of admissions counselors who spend their days helping people navigate the path of pursuing higher education. Specifically, today I’m speaking with Allison Roper, Associate Director of Admissions and certified rock star. Born in Washington D.C., but raised in Annapolis, Allison was part of a Navy family and spent most of her childhood on a boat. Annapolis being her hometown, St. John’s was no stranger to her, and the Annapolis campus even hosted her childhood piano recitals and senior prom. After graduating high school, she moved to Gambier, Ohio to get her undergraduate degree in Drama and Philosophy at Kenyon College. With that Drama/Philosophy double major in hand, she then went to work in the biomedical field for three years (hah and they say you can’t do anything with a philosophy degree).
After that, Allison was still looking for a more fulfilling education that filled in the gaps and answered her questions about history and architecture and mathematics. This dogged pursuit of every subject under the sun, which most Johnnies can relate to, is what led her back to St. John’s, and in Santa Fe, she got her Master’s in the Liberal Arts. Her graduate school experience as well as working in the mailroom where she got to know everyone in Weigle (the main staff building in Santa Fe) made her decide to apply for an opening in the admissions office. Now she has been working there for 10 years, traveling all around the country and meeting thousands of prospective students.
Though asking someone (especially a Johnnie) their favorite book is always a difficult question to answer, Allison says she must choose Dante’s Divine Comedy. “The opening line is ‘midway through the journey of our life, I found myself in this dark and shadowed wood,’” (Yes, she really recited it). “Then you go through his entire journey of actually soul-searching to find his beloved Beatrice. I just love the artistic painting of all the scenes and settings he illustrates so beautifully through this poem.”
As a last note, I’ll leave you with this story:
While earning her undergrad, Allison took the amazing opportunity to study theatre in London, though this story is better told in her words:
“Being a drama major, and also a world traveler, I definitely wanted to do something abroad. I was looking at a bunch of different programs and I finally decided to do a school in England that focuses just on drama, the British American Drama Academy. I got to spend 6 months in London specifically focusing on Shakespeare. It was very rigorous- from 9 in the morning to 6 at night with rigorous classes every day. We all had to choose a speech to work on and had to spend the entire semester on it, perfecting it and finding every little possible nuance over a couple months. I had chosen this really complicated speech by Lady Macbeth, which I had written my entrance essay on, about how I was madly in love with her and one day I would woo her and make her mine. It was this very out-there essay, because my one big goal in life was to one day play Lady Macbeth. So, that was the speech I did. I tend to get typecast as a sweet ingenue or a victim, so I wanted to work with this powerhouse woman who’s intense and strong in all these ways. So, I get there in London and the three shows we are doing are announced and it’s Doctor Faustus and it’s A Winter’s Tale…and it’s Lady Macbeth. So I have a complete and profound breakdown. I didn’t speak for three days. I mean, it’s one thing to say ‘Oh, one day I’ll play her,’ but to actually be faced with your dream, and what if you don’t get it?”
Spoilers: She totally did.
Now, it’s just her and her cat, Nambe (named after the New Mexican town where he was found), travelling around the United States and enticing unsuspecting high-schoolers into becoming philosophy-obsessed fanatics.
Thank you Allison for being such a rock star!