Theatre-Acting Major Dorian Underwood wants to impact people through art and music

Incoming Ball State University freshman Dorian Underwood listened intently when she was told about some past Whitinger Scholarship recipients who went on to find fulfilling careers that positively impact people. Ms. Underwood is one of eight students named as Whitinger Scholarship recipients for the 2022-2023 academic year. Naturally, she was curious about those Whitinger Scholars who came before her.

For example, past Whitinger Scholar Jeffrey D. Feltman ’81 has spent 30-plus years of service to America as a diplomat—promoting peace and security, mitigating conflict when possible, protecting America’s interests, and looking out for U.S. citizens overseas. But before that, Mr. Feltman was an undergraduate student from a small town in Ohio looking for his passion and purpose in life—which he said he found while at Ball State.

Ms. Underwood said she was impressed and inspired after learning about Mr. Feltman.

“It makes me feel proud to be a Whitinger Scholar. And, hearing the story of how a Whitinger Scholar from a small town in Ohio touches lives in that way, it gives me hope. There’s more than one way to change the world,” said Ms. Underwood, 17, of Auburn, Ind. “It makes me so excited for my next four years, and all the years after that. Because what I really, really want to do is to touch people, in a different sort of way, with art and music.

“I want to perform in any capacity,” she added, sharing her future aspirations in the theater world. “Performance is important. To me, it has the potential of creating and cultivating positive change in a social aspect. I want to perform in a way that cultivates positive societal change.”

Dorian Underwood will gratefully stand on the shoulders of Whitinger Scholars who came before her. But she won’t stand in their shadows. Instead, this Theater-Acting major is determined to cast her own light. Learn more about Ms. Underwood in this brief Q&A interview below:

Potential for leadership is one of the criteria involved in the selection of Whitinger Scholarship recipients. What do you think is a major quality of a good leader?

A good leader has to be a person of the people. And as a leader, I think you need to, as much as you can, make sure that every single voice of those you are leading is being heard. Your role as a leader is not to make decisions, but to guide decision-making. As vice president of my class for all four years in high school, I did my best to make sure every voice was heard. And, I appreciated the awesome opportunity to serve as vice president.

Why do you want to go to college?

It was never even a question of my path. I’ve always loved to learn. I think that knowledge is the most valuable thing that we, as people, can acquire.

You are passionate about activism and learning. Why?

I want to learn more about people who are in marginalized groups and learn what I can do, personally, to support them. I guess I am just still learning about gaining equity for all, and how to go about achieving that. I think we are all still learning about that.

More about Dorian Underwood

  • Current Hometown: Auburn, Ind.
  • Graduated in 2022 from: DeKalb High School in DeKalb County, Ind.
  • Favorite Sport: Hockey
  • One Recent Accomplishment of Which She is Proud: She organized a donation drive that benefitted a local family.

The Whitinger Scholarship honors Dr. Ralph J. Whitinger, a 1929 Ball State University graduate who served many years as the first president of the Ball State University Foundation. Several new students who possess exceptional potential are chosen each year to be Whitinger Scholars.

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