This place will always be with you

Theatre grad Olivia Nelson finds inspiration on the North Shore.

Olivia Nelson (she/her) was the Commencement speaker for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the 2024 University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Commencement ceremony. Nelson will be graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre, with emphases in both musical theatre and acting, and an art minor.

Olivia Nelson stands at the UMD Commencement podium in cap and gown in front of an array of flags as she gives a commencement address.

Nelson grew up in Prior Lake, but was always drawn to the North Shore. When it came time for college, she set her sights on UMD. “I knew that this was a special place,” she said. Since choosing theatre, Nelson has been involved in productions across campus and Duluth, with the outdoor twilight production of The Moors as one of her favorite memories.

Outside of classes and all-evening rehearsals, Nelson has spent her time connecting with friends, and supporting her fellow students as an inclusion and advocacy officer on the Stage 2 Board and through work with Art in Ordean. Off campus, she enjoys thrifting, watching movies, creating art in her home studio, and whenever she can, visiting Lake Superior.

UMD graduates in cap and gown sit in rows at the 2024 Commencement.
Olivia Nelson looks up and out from her seat at the 2024 Commencement ceremony at Amsoil Arena

After graduation, Nelson wants to head to Chicago, to continue telling stories and share her voice through acting and writing. “I want to make new stuff,” Nelson said, “things that nobody's ever seen before.”

An image of Olivia Nelson

“UMD is where I learned who I am,” Nelson said. “I feel like I'm set up to do anything.”