“I’m from South Bend, Ind., home to Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish. I come from a small family, and most of my close relatives still reside in South Bend. I have three beautiful nieces and three adorable great-nephews (one more on the way). It is always fun and surprising to see how much they have grown since my last visit. I have two cats, named Quincy and Kira, who are spoiled rotten, as I believe pets should be. I often remind myself that they are just one part of my world, but I am their entire world.
“I entered college at Northwestern University as an undecided freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. I could not quiet the call to music, so I auditioned for the School of Music in my sophomore year, was accepted, and graduated with a bachelor of music in vocal performance and music technology. After earning a master’s degree in vocal performance at Florida State University, I went on to earn a doctor of musical arts in vocal performance at the University of Kentucky.
“My dissertation is titled “Synchrony of the Sublime: A Performer’s Guide to Duke Ellington’s Wordless Melodies for Soprano.” I had a thrilling time researching at the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Duke Ellington Archives in Washington, DC.
“I lived in Lexington, Ky. for about six years prior to relocating to Owensboro. I joined the Kentucky Wesleyan family as an adjunct in 2013 and full time beginning in 2014. I chose to teach at Kentucky Wesleyan College because of its commitment to the arts and focus on meaningful connections and experiences both in and out of the classroom.
“Here, we can personalize the learning experience and educate the whole person. We provide a space where non-traditional students and traditional students alike can thrive. The faculty, staff and administration understand it takes a village – each of us working individually and collectively to support our students through the ups and downs of their academic pursuits. There is a strong heartbeat at the center of the Kentucky Wesleyan community, and we are poised for excellence on every front.
“Music speaks to us in ways language or visual arts cannot. It at times allows us to experience endless depths of feeling which transcend words. It serves as a mirror of history and preserver of culture. It helps us better understand who we are.
“My colleagues in the Music Department, both past and present, have been wonderful. Together, we model the core principles of The Wesleyan Way in our commitment to one another and our commitment to our students. I am humbled and privileged to have worked alongside an immensely talented and supportive group of individuals – Diane Earle, Dennis Jewett, Gary Laughrey, and the late and dearly missed Joy Malone, to name a few.
“The most meaningful and rewarding part of teaching comes from building relationships and establishing trust. Only in that space can transformational learning occur – especially in the arts, where we are vulnerable because our craft is inextricably linked to our self-expression and who we are as an individual. I love when students are empowered in their music making and when they understand they have something of value to share with the world through the medium of song. I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of a student’s intellectual and artistic journey and learn so much more from them than they ever know. As an educator, I also live for the “aha moments” in a voice lesson or curiosity fulfilled experiences in the classroom.
“I consider it a challenge and a charge to untether students from past negative learning experiences and help them find value and meaning in process rather than outcome or letter grade.
“Dr. Everett McCorvey, director of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, has been many things to me, including mentor and teacher, but most importantly, he has dedicated himself to being a creator of opportunity for young artists. He encourages his students to use all their gifts and stresses the importance of never letting anyone or anything rob one of joy, in music making or life in general.
“I had the pleasure of working with Nan (Gabbert) McSwain, who grew up in Owensboro, on and off during my time at UK. [Her sister, Pat (Gabbert) McFarling ’83, is an associate professor emeritus of library science at KWC]. She was my accompanist for a short time, and I was always inspired and motivated by her musicality, pursuit of artistic excellence, elegance and grace. She is a consummate musician, and any singer should consider himself or herself lucky to be supported by her presence at the keyboard.
“Outside of music-related interests, I very much enjoy cooking and baking. I’m no epicurean, but I am a pretty good home cook, and I inherited a love of baking from my mom. I enjoy thrifting and shopping for vintage clothing. I like playing pool (billiards) and have played in competitive leagues in the past. I also like to play tennis or take my bike out on the Greenbelt. Recently, I have been carving out more time to read. If afforded a leisurely Sunday afternoon, I like to try and tackle a crossword puzzle.”