|Twice the fun for Dean Hart pulling off double major|
Dean Hart returns to the stage Saturday but there’s no acting required this time. The MSU Texas May 2019 Commencement is real. Hart has accomplished his mission and made family history.
Hart has completed two majors at Midwestern State University and is excited about being a first-generation college graduate in his family.
His journey to Midwestern State began with the recommendation of MSU graduates Chris and Brette Rector at Lampasas High School. “He spoke highly of the theatre department,” Hart said.
Hart’s academic path widened beyond theatre soon after arriving on campus, and he embraced a world-wide version. The next stop for Hart is Washington, D.C.
Hart has been accepted into the master’s program for international affairs at American University. Officially, the theatre skills he took so much pride in – he was determined to finish that major, too – will take a back seat while he pursues international diplomacy.
But for Hart everything worked in concert in his time at Midwestern State. The theatre background will help him in diplomacy. An opportunity to experience Model United Nations has led to him wanting to see how far he can go in a career of public service.
“I did Model UN once and I liked it, so I did it again,” Hart said. “And then I had it in a major. Then I did it a third time and I liked it and thought, I want to do this the rest of my life.”
ACT I: MEMORIZING LINES
Since it was a theatre teacher who recommended MSU Texas to Hart, it may have been his church upbringing and opportunities that led him to be a Mustang. He said his love for acting began there in Lampasas.
“I think it was from being in a lot of church plays when I was kid,” Hart said. “The reason I was forced to do them so much was because I had a very good memory and could memorize the lines for the big part. Eventually I started doing it for fun in high school. I’m happy I’m getting my degree in it even though I’m going in a different direction.”
Even though he believes his future in theatre will be “just on a community level,” there’s definitely no regrets or a feeling that any time was wasted as he gets ready for graduate school.
“I think that having a creative endeavor is important for anyone who wants to do great things,” Hart said. “There was the incentive for a double major that I can’t start over but also I put so much time into theatre that at that point I wanted to finish it. I knew that it strengthened my abilities. I knew that I learned practical skills from my theatre classes. That will help me career wise and to be a more fulfilled person.”
ACT II: A PULL TO POLITICS
The TV series Cheers wrapped up long before Hart started his acting, but the theme of a place “Where everybody knows your name” played out for a teenager from Lampasas at MSU Texas.
“I think a lot underestimate the benefits of having such a small student body,” Hart said. “Even in a class that every freshman has to take, the professor still knows your name. Even in the biggest classes I would take the professor still had time to talk to everyone.”
Dr. Linda Veazey, associate professor in political science, knew not only Hart’s name but also his skill set.
“I came here and took a women and gender studies class my freshman year from Dr. Veazey,” Hart said. “She got me into political science, and I added a second major. MSU does a good job of promoting interdisciplinary learning. You have that wide foundation of learning and then pick two or three areas you’re good at. You can find your own way to make a career.”
MODEL U.N. OPENS UP A NEW WORLD
A chance to participate in Model United Nations definitely changed Hart’s course. He loved that the team, which takes on the part of a nation, was comprised of a student from each college at MSU. “
The MSU Texas team was honored with an Outstanding Delegation Award for its representation of Iceland in 2018, and Hart was honored in the General Assembly category individually.
He won much more than that in his mind. “It teaches intensive research skills because we have to study laws and international documents that you wouldn’t normally study in most fields,” Hart said. “It teaches the interpersonal communication skills, being able to walk into a room and identify someone you want to work with and then making that happen.”
Hart said, “There’s this saying in Model United Nations that once you go to this conference you have a bed to sleep in on every continent. I have friends in Germany, friends in China and friends who go to school in France. I’m friends with them on Facebook, and we keep each other posted on what we’re doing in international affairs.”
Hart believes the biggest takeaway from his experiences isn’t the honors but “connections and just practical experience in diplomacy. College is a lot about learning academics and knowledge behind everything, but you don’t always get to practice it. Doing all the research and putting it to use and coming up with unique solutions was really fun,” he said.
TIME TO LEAD
Hart had a chance to direct a one-act play at MSU Texas and believes that along with being a head delegate at Model UN were important to his growth.
“Directing and being head delegate really taught me some leadership skills that you can’t learn from a seminar,” Hart said. “You have to do it by being thrown into it. Directing taught me to deal with people who have their own motives and their own desires. When you’re an actor you have a specific vision for your character. As a director, you have a vision for the whole play. And sometimes those two don’t mesh so you learn how to compromise. It’s always about the balance of letting someone do what they want while still accomplishing your goal. I find it very similar to diplomacy.”
ONTO THE NEXT STAGE IN D.C.
Hart might not have predicted when he came to Wichita Falls that the next stop would be the nation’s capital, but public service and politics were a natural, he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me (four or five years ago) if you’d told me this because I’ve always been interested in political science and international affairs, but I wouldn’t have guessed it, either. Politics, whether international or local, is all performance. It’s about enlisting support through public action and speeches.”
He said his parents, Marti Hart, Bo Hart and stepmother Mo Hart, are “excited and stressed because grad school is expensive. They support me and want me to take the talents I have and put them to best possible use.”
Hart already has thought about what this day means. “I’m a first-generation college graduate in my family,” he said. “I have a grandfather who went to two years of seminary and my dad didn’t graduate high school and my mom went for a semester of college. I’ve very proud to have overcome those factors, but they’ve also inspired me to show that every generation can do better and should do better. I couldn’t have got here without my parents. We have a strong inclination to public service. It really makes them happy and makes them proud to see that I’m using the talents I have to serve other people rather than serve myself.”
And he’s thankful for his time at MSU Texas.
“I’m very honored to have been selected for the master’s program at American University. I think I’m the first one from MSU to get into that program, and I’m going to make the best of it,” Hart said. “I know MSU has prepared me for it. I’m going in as someone with the necessary background and necessary knowledge. I’m going to go in there and make my previous faculty members proud. It’s exciting!”