Graduation speaker Griffyn Albers reflects on college

Nikki Brahm, News Writer

UW Oshkosh senior Griffyn Albers sat in her bed in an organized but chaotic bedroom, which consisted of tapestries, candles and interesting signs that said things such as “Please No Farting,” “Caution: Slippery When Wet” and “Danger: Confined Space.”

Griffyn said her old bedroom at home had walls filled top to bottom with decorations as well. She said she likes to collage things that make her happy and she doesn’t believe there’s a limit to what she can put up. She said it’s boring to not be colorful, which showed throughout her home. With the windows open, the sound of passing cars and birds chirping filled the room.

Griffyn, oftentimes laughing during the interview, would sometimes say “holy pickles” when thinking over a question. With a naturally comedic attitude, she kept the conversation light and exciting as she talked about her dreams and passions.

Originally from West Bend, Wisconsin, Griffyn is a theater tech and design major with an emphasis in costume and makeup at UWO and is planning to graduate this spring.
Griffyn said jobs in theater are often called portfolio jobs and that they usually involve a lot of traveling.

“So I anticipate never being in a permanent residence, at least for five years, if not more, never in a permanent residence, never in a settled down house,” Griffyn said. “I don’t want to get married, so I’m not going to be married. I don’t want kids; I don’t want pets; I just want to be bopping around and working and traveling and getting as much experience around the world as I can.”

Following graduation, Griffyn will be working in New York at a performance camp over the summer in the Catskill Mountains. Last summer Griffyn went to Santa Maria, California to work as an intern.

Griffyn said she told her parents about her California internship when she found out she had the job offer.

“Honestly, I called my parents one day and I said, ‘Hey, I submitted this application. I didn’t think it would get this far; I have an interview; also I got the interview. Can I go?’” Griffyn said. “And instead of them for some reason saying no or making an excuse for why I couldn’t, or a monetary issue or something, they were like, ‘Do it’”.

Penny Albers, Griffyn’s mother, said she knew she couldn’t be successful with theater in West Bend.

“We didn’t have a problem,” Penny said. “[We were] more so proud that she wanted to. She was surprised that we said yes, but you have to. You can’t raise your kids and expect them to stay at home.”

At her internship, Griffyn was working as a stitcher and sewed costumes at a conservatory.

“We got there and just sewed for eight hours every day and it was magnificent,” Griffyn said. “And I lived with a cute little elderly couple, Barb and Marv.”

Griffyn’s faculty adviser Debbie Gray Patton said the first day she met Griffyn she knew she loved her.

“She was so full of energy, super mature,” Patton said. “I met her during her freshman year, but [she was] very down to earth, very friendly.”

Patton said she told Griffyn to contact Oshkosh North High School’s theater department to work on a musical.

“She did it and had a great experience, and it’s something that not everyone would have reached out and done,” Patton said. “But she’s always willing to do different things.”

Griffyn said she doesn’t care what she ends up doing as long as she is in the performance area.

“If I could do anything, I would want to act or have my own talk show or do something in front of people, but I don’t want to go to auditions for the rest of my life,” Griffyn said. “But there are people that started as janitors or a really low-life rung of the ladder, and then some important person caught them singing or liked their style and were like, ‘Hey, do you want to do this one gig?’ and it blew them up.”

Griffyn said one of her favorite things to do is drive around and listen to music, along with playing music.

“I also love spontaneous adventures,” Griffyn said. “If I’m hanging with a friend I’ll be like, ‘Do you want to do this right now?’ I love people that are like ‘Yeah, let’s go do it.” I don’t want to plan it, I don’t want to make a big thing about it.”

Griffyn said she loves driving down Main Street back home in West Bend. She also said one of her favorite places is Asylum Point Lighthouse in Oshkosh, an area in a park off Lake Winnebago.

“It’s my favorite but the bridge broke, so you either risk it and try to run it or you don’t,” Griffyn said. “It’s been broken for a year, but it was my favorite place to go do homework and watch the sunset and stuff.”

Griffyn said she spends the most time with herself and she chooses friends based on quality, not quantity.

“I’m an introverted extrovert, so I love being alone and I’m very selective when I want to hang out with people,” Griffyn said.

Senior Carlie Erdman said she met Griffyn freshman year when they were paired together as random roommates and have lived together for four years.

“Griffyn is easily the most eccentric person I’ve ever met,” Erdman said. “She is generous, very sympathetic, caring; she’s just someone that everyone should be friends with and is friends with because she’s just a unique soul. There’s not anyone else like her.”

Erdman said the way Griffyn treats people makes her stand out.

“She’s just so much more than nice,” Erdman said. “She’s just so capable and willing to talk to anyone, and I feel like when she does talk to people she really connects with them.”

Griffyn said she will be speaking at Commencement this spring about how everyone is unique in their own way.

“If we weren’t different it would be super boring,” Griffyn said. “Our individuality is what brings us together.”

Griffyn said her family is goofy, fun and musically inclined, not generic or boring.

“We’re weird,” Albers said. “We’re all weird, just what way is your family weird?”

Griffyn said she is passionate about body positivity and that she also likes hard-working people.

“I’m a 45-year-old woman in a 22-year-old’s body,” Griffyn said. “I’m really set on people putting in the work for things and lazy people make me upset.”

Griffyn said her life was difficult growing up and making it better as she got older was important to her.

“Growing up fat’s rough and if I didn’t have the people in my life, whether it be faculty, friends or parents, I know I probably would have been a lot more different than I am,” Griffyn said. “I think just having that hardship on top of your life of people just being cruel because they can be, or they think they should be, that shaped me to be really strong and resilient and accepting of people who, nine times out of 10, get the blunt end of the stick from other people that bully them.”

Penny said she is extremely proud of both Griffyn and her sister Payton for both being emcees for prom queen in their high school class.

“I love the fact that people can look at the whole package once they get to know folks and reevaluate,” Penny said.

Penny said it doesn’t matter the size of a person, but how someone presents themself.

“And when people see you, the personality you have, let that be the first thing they see rather than your size,” Penny said. “You dress frumpy, they see frumpy. You dress with confidence, they see a confident person. That’s always kind of been my deal with her. Don’t worry about what you don’t look like with the other girls in elementary school because it’s not the way God made us. So I said always stand out and be a nice person and the rest of it will follow.”