Some things are simply meant to be, and Mary Griffith was meant to come to Wittenberg and become a member of the Wittenberg community. She knew it the moment she stepped onto campus.
"It was a cold grey day," Griffith said, "but I was immediately comfortable, and I knew I belonged. I had applied everywhere. Witt was a perfect fit, and I fell in love with the place."
She soon learned that Wittenberg's hometown of Springfield, Ohio, also offered opportunities that made the choice even more suited to her needs.
"Springfield has the qualities of both a big and a small town," Griffith said, explaining that she had such a wide range of choices in Springfield to blend her interests with experiences and opportunities outside the classroom. "Springfield has wonderful options to choose from."
She also found Wittenberg to be an "open door of opportunities."
Griffith volunteered with the Springfield Arts Council, through which she donated a portrait for its silent auction. She also served as president of the Wittenberg Art League, which is dedicated to building a strong visual arts-based community on campus.
As president she organized several activities for league members: a student art sale, trips to Springfield's annual Culture Fest, participation in the Community Service Office's Make a Difference Day Halloween Festival and planned a trip to Chicago to visit the art museums. She also served as art editor for The Wittenberg Review of Art and Literature, worked at Wittenberg's Thomas Library and taught private water color lessons to a seven-year-old.
Griffith traveled to Nicaragua on a service trip with a non-profit community development organization that takes volunteers to developing countries to work, learn and reflect, which she said was one of the most eye-opening experiences of her life.
"I participated in a "Bridges to Community" project in Nicaragua," Griffith said. "It was amazing what we were doing with and for the community.
"I learned to appreciate the simplicity of life and focus much less on the material, and I learned that the views I had on my life were greatly skewed, and that I am so lucky to live the way I do," Griffith said. "I've learned to do what I can, with what I have, and help others to make the best of what they have as well."
"During my time on campus, I gained an immense amount of knowledge, had lots of opportunities and met a few very close, life-long friends," she said. "I also discovered that for me the Witt light embodies a radial energy that shines from students, and it will carry through into our lives."
Griffith describes her art as her light. "Naples yellow chalk pastel with its bright highlights" describes her approach to life, and she finds strength in her upbeat philosophy.
"If you can't see the brighter side of life, polish the dull side," she said. She firmly believes that teaching art to elementary or high school children will allow her to live her passion.
"While at Witt, I have learned it's important to find a passion and pursue it," she said. "Then you need to teach to others to enforce your own understanding and find originality."
A twin, Griffith used her college years to gain independence from her sister. She also found a growing confidence in her art and her decisions. Caught in the middle of professional dilemma over teaching and making art – she decided that she could do both. She said that she believes she must do both to fully realize and live her passion.
Griffith was recognized for her talent and creativity when she received a state-wide Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICUO) People's Choice art award on May 11. The award was presented by the president of the AICUO during a special ceremony on campus just before graduation.
- Written by Phyllis Eberts
- Photo by Erin Pence