The UNC Bear Den

Posts tagged with 'distinguished alum'.

Dr. Heather Beck (MA-96) describes her career trajectory from educator to Chief Academic Officer of Jefferson County Schools as “typical,” but her reputation as a forward-thinking, collaborative, results-driven administrator suggests that her passion for the field is anything but ordinary. While preparing to take another leap forward in her career as superintendent of Lake Oswego Schools in Oregon, Dr. Beck took some time to look back with us on all that she’s accomplished so far and the role her extended studies at UNC played in making her a well-rounded education professional.

How did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in education?

I’ve been in education for almost 20 years because, like everyone who goes into this field, I want to make a difference. Prior to my work in education I had been a paralegal. One day I happened to strike up a conversation with a client who was struggling with some issues her children were having in school. There was something about talking through the issues of education with another parent that really sparked my interest. I decided to go back to school to get my teaching license, jumped right in, and never looked back.

Why did you decide to pursue your MA in Special Education at UNC?

As a teacher you strive to meet the needs of every single child in your classroom, but there were a few kids that I felt I just wasn’t able to reach as effectively. These were children with special affective needs. When they were upset or frustrated I found myself really struggling to communicate with them in a meaningful way. So when our school received a flier from UNC advertising their grad program in special education it struck me as a great opportunity to address these issues head-on.  Also, as a single mother and full-time teacher, being able to complete my degree close to home in the Denver area made a huge difference.

And how has your degree served you in your career as an educator and education administrator?

One portion of my studies at UNC dealt with the specific laws and policies that define special education in our public school system. This has been helpful because, as Chief Academic Officer, I’m responsible for a very broad domain. I essentially help to oversee every aspect of our students’ academic lives: from curriculum to teacher training to classroom technology. So, a detailed knowledge of special education has certainly served me well in a big picture sense.

Another major aspect of my Master’s degree consisted of strategies for ensuring that each student is able to engage with our lessons, regardless of their needs. On one level, these strategies give you the ability to address the particular needs of particular students—working with a child who has a reading disability is obviously going to involve different strategies than a child who has emotional outbursts. However, at their core these techniques are also just generally useful classroom management skills. As a teacher, I’d use them with all of my students and the uptick in engagement was truly remarkable.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?

The main challenge of being a chief academic officer in a school district with 85,000 students is that there are 85,000 needs. Understanding how to allocate resources appropriately and maximize the return on your investment for the people you’re serving is the eternal challenge we’re up against.

Hearing success stories from parents and teachers, finding positive results in our data analyses—those are the moments we really get to feel successful at what we do. I say “we” because, as different as this job can be from day to day, working with my support team has truly been a constant source of joy for me. At a certain level in education administration it’s impossible to be an expert in every area you’re responsible for, so having an amazing team is both a practical necessity and a supremely satisfying perk of the position.

What excites you most about your new position as superintendent of Lake Oswego Schools?

Becoming a superintendent has been a dream of mine ever since I did my doctoral internship with Dr. Jane Hammond. When you’re a teacher your world is those 30 kids sitting in front of you. Working with Dr. Hammond, I saw education from a whole new vantage point as something that encompassed policy, establishing priorities, and helping to develop the entire community that’s touched by the work we do. 

I hope to continue this work, providing opportunities for involvement and building the capacity of community leaders in my new position at Lake Oswego. They believe in their system they’re eager to work toward the same goals of increasing student achievement that all educators dream of. Basically, a perfect opportunity came my way and I’m just excited that I’m the one they selected to lead it forward.

What skills do you feel people really need to succeed in your field?

You have to be people person. Obviously there’s a lot of knowledge that goes into being a great educator, but when you put all of that information away, stop talking strategies, and quit quoting research the bottom line is that this whole educational process is about giving everything you have to help others grow. You have to have a true, abiding interest in the wellbeing of your fellow citizens if you’re going to sustain an entire career in education.

This is an incredibly rewarding profession, but it’s demanding as well. Professionally, physically, emotionally: you’re going to have bad days. That’s why building a support network is so essential. Professional organizations, colleagues in your immediate area and even across systems—these are the people who are going to give you the support that you need to support others. Aspiring educators and new teachers who build these networks early on will be much happier and more effective in the long run.

Thank you, Dr. Beck, for sharing your insights with us!

Speaking of professional support, did you know that the Office of Career Services offers programming and other opportunities that are available to all alumni? Visit their homepage and follow them on Facebook for news on their latest events, including their upcoming Teacher Employment Days.

Have you ever considered following Dr. Beck’s route, pursuing extended studies as a means of enhancing your professional skills and opportunities? Not only does our university offer courses at three different UNC Centers throughout the state of Colorado, its online programs have been nationally recognized for their quality and affordability. General information on all of UNC’s graduate programs can also be found on the Graduate School homepage.

On April 9th at 10:10AM in Kepner Hall Rm. 1030, UNC alumnus Brandon Barnholt (BS-81) will deliver a presentation to students in the Monfort College of Business. President and CEO of KeHE Distributors, LLC—the second largest distributor in the natural products industry—Mr. Barnholt will be joined by Director of Talent Management Rusty Bland to discuss the intersections between job opportunity and corporate culture.

Since earning his degree in finance and economics from UNC, Barnholt has maintained close ties to the university through a combination of service and philanthropy. In addition to serving as director of the MCB Dean’s Leadership Council and vice chairman of the University of Northern Colorado Foundation, he spearheaded the establishment of the KeHE Distributors Scholarship and Garth Allen Distinguished Chair through corporate and private donations.

I grew up in Denver and I was able to graduate from UNC thanks in part to funding from state grant programs,” Barnholt says. “I feel a sense of duty to pay it back, pay it forward, and make it possible for others to have the same opportunity that I had.”

Barnholt enrolled at UNC as a recreation major, but quickly made the switch over to business after taking courses in MCB which sparked his passion for finance. His first full-time job following graduation stemmed from a marketing internship at Conoco he had secured with the help of a Northern Colorado alumnus in his senior year. Working his way up over the course of a career spanning more than three decades, Barnholt served 11 years at Conoco before taking on the key leadership roles at Clark Refining & Marketing and White Hen Pantry that led to his current position at KeHE.

A college degree establishes that initial foundation: gives you a new vocabulary, equips you with important skill sets,” says Barnholt. “Once you’re launched, your professional life continues to be a constant, everyday learning process.”

Barnholt’s presentation will provide an overview of job opportunities at KeHE with an eye toward illustrating the links between a company’s values and employee success. Corporate culture is a point of differentiation for KeHE, an employee-owned company guided by a set of core values which emphasize giving and serving others.

Corporate culture is something I stress to every business student because job opportunities often entail a significant life commitment,” says Barnholt. “To decide whether or not a position is right for you, it’s essential that you do your research, carefully examine a company’s overall mission, and get a sense of how they’re going to help you to grow as an employee.”

According to Barnholt, it’s UNC’s culture that has made him such a staunch supporter of our institution. The university’s commitment to student persistence and success evidenced through programs like CHE and Cumbres—combined with its established record of serving first generation students—resonate with his idea of “potential” as a long-term resource that deserves to be cultivated.

Throughout my career, I’ve never been given the number one company in its space or the number one set of assets. I’ve always had to find the promise, develop the opportunity, and then turn it into something that has a lot of value,” Barnholt says. “I think the same can be said of connecting with young people at UNC who have a lot of promise. They just need that big break, a chance to pursue their own development.”

Many thanks to Mr. Barnholt for taking the time to talk to us about his ongoing work with our university.

Have you considered making a gift to support UNC students, but you’re unsure where to begin? Visit our official giving homepage and you’ll find a helpful FAQ, a comprehensive list of our 850+ funds, and even a handy search engine that will give you all the information you need to secure a matching donation from your employer. You can also explore on- and off-campus service opportunities by filling out this Volunteer Interest Form on the alumni website.

Interested in attending future presentations at the Monfort College of Business? You can find a detailed calendar of upcoming speakers on the MCB homepage

Distinguished Alumnus Interview - Jose Martinez III

Training outstanding educators has been an essential part of UNC’s mission since its founding in 1889. Jose Martinez III (BA-07), an economics and social studies teacher at Bear Creek High School, has demonstrated that this 124-year-old tradition is still alive and thriving today. As the son of two UNC alumni, Jose Martinez Jr. (BA-81) and Annette Acevedo-Martinez (BA-81), Jose was taught the value of a good education from an early age. This year, he became one of 15 teachers from around the country to be presented with the prestigious Milken Educator Award, also known as “The Oscar of Education.” Mr. Martinez took some time to talk with us about his experience receiving the Milken and how his views on education have continued to evolve since graduation.

What has it meant to you to receive such a prestigious award so early on in your career?

It was definitely a validation. I mean I’ve only been working in this position for seven years now—I still have a lot of work to go—but having people recognize my efforts in such a big and prestigious way has definitely cemented in my mind that I am working in the career I was meant to be in.

It’s not uncommon for teachers to feel like a lot of their work is going unnoticed outside the classroom. But when the Milken representatives presented me with this award they told me, “We’ve been observing you for two months now and we’re very impressed by what we’ve seen.” I’m still not sure how they were evaluating me that whole time, but it’s nice to know that people were appreciative enough of my work that they wanted to have it acknowledged in this big way.

Your Milken Award-Winner profile mentioned that you are known for your creative use of technology in the classroom. How has this technology influenced the development of your teaching practices? 

On a broad scale, I think that the technological culture we see today has drastically changed our ideas about what the “essential role” of the teacher is. With all of the informational resources available on the web and all of the cool new tools we have to access them, facts and “right answers” are remarkably easy to come by.  A student could probably take out their smart phone in the middle of class and find information that’s more up-to-date than anything in your textbook. They don’t need us to spoon-feed them facts, they need us to push them to find out what they can accomplish with all the information they’re lucky enough to have access to. I want them to start grappling with the issues we don’t have easy answers for.

On the last day of school, I always tell my senior Econ students, “You need to work your butts off, but you also need to have fun.” Technology helps me strike that balance in the classroom. It’s a great way to find new and exciting methods for teaching the fundamental concepts we need to cover. I’m also fortunate enough to be working in an area like social studies where the content I’m teaching—human history and culture—is always changing and evolving, so that keeps me on my toes.

Thinking back to your college days, what initially drew you to UNC for your higher education experience?

Both of my parents are alumni of UNC so I grew up with an obvious bias toward the university. I truly respect their careers and what they’ve been able to accomplish with their education and since I was headed down a similar path it seemed like an obvious choice. I also knew that, as I was finding my way in the professional world after graduation, UNC would be a recognized and respected name in the teaching community.

During your time as an undergraduate, what were some of the major influences on your development as an educator?

As far as people who influenced my path in life and how I teach today, there are too many to count: Linda Carbajal, John Bromley, Drs. Priscilla Falcon, Elizabeth Franklin, and Kelfala Kallon. I could go on forever.

One particularly memorable learning experience occurred when I was taking Dr. David Aske’s course on the economic history of the United States. He was teaching us about how imbalances in information can influence business negotiations—like when you’re purchasing a car. I think we spent the entire class laughing along with his lesson! Reflecting on that experience later, I realized that that was the most fun I had ever had inside a classroom! At the same time, the fact that his style of teaching was so much fun just drew everybody in, got them to participate and really engage with the subject matter. I continue to think back on that experience to this day. Even in a world of standardized tests and a largely predetermined curriculum, you can still find ways to make education really, really fun. I swear, if I ever write a book one day I’m going to dedicate it to Dr. Aske. He changed the way I see the world.

Cumbres —which is a bilingual education program run through the university—was another eye-opening experience that had a major impact on my development as an teacher. Going into college I was aware that, in addition to the shifts we’ve experienced in our economy, our country’s changing cultural demographics are going to play a significant role in how we develop our educational practices. Combined with my involvement in Sigma Lambda Beta, which is a national, multi-cultural fraternity, I came out of UNC with a deep understanding of what is required to create a well-rounded, inclusive educational environment that addresses the needs of its students.

As you made your transition into the “real world” after graduation, were there any lessons you were able to pull from your UNC experience that helped you establish your professional identity?

One thing I really appreciated about all of my professors at UNC was their practical, straightforward approach to teaching. They always emphasized the fact that, at its core, education is about the students. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledge and skills we teach are important, but if you can’t help your students understand why that content will be relevant to their lives, it won’t really do anybody any good. If you’re able to make your students understand that you care about them and what they’ll be able to do with the things you’re teaching them, they will go above and beyond for you.

Can you offer any general advice for all the Bears out there who are interested in pursuing a career in education?

First of all, I would tell them that they have chosen what is probably the best career on the planet. Despite the fact that not every teacher—especially not every great teacher—gets recognized for their hard work, I think it’s still the most rewarding profession you could hope for. We get to change the future if we want to.

As far as the advice I would give them, I would say that if what you’re teaching isn’t interesting to you, it’s not going to be interesting to your students. If your lesson plan doesn’t excite you, change it. Obviously, that all has to happen within certain limits, we’re still bound by the curriculum, but you’d be amazed how much your students will learn when you start thinking about teaching through the lens of “making it fun for yourself.” 

Thank you, Mr. Martinez, for taking the time to share your insights with us! If you’d like to a more detailed view of the festivities surrounding Jose’s Milken Award, be sure to check out this touching video and photo essay.  

Did you know that UNC has its own annual award to recognize outstanding educators? It’s called the M. Lucile Harrison Award and you can find nomination information and a list of past winners here.

Would you like to help the next generation of UNC educators achieve their dreams? Bear Tuesday, an annual initiative to raise funds for student scholarships, is kicking off on 12/3. You can make an early (or late) gift by by visiting this website and clicking on the “Make a Gift Now” tab.

Craig Gosnell (BM-97, MM-98) is a talented multi-instrumentalist whose skill on the trombone has earned him a steady stream of gigs backing up some of the biggest names in show business. In addition to being an in-demand session musician, he’s been a regular member of the Dancing With the Stars orchestra since the show’s beginning in 2005. Mr. Gosnell took some time out of his busy performance schedule to talk with us about his time at UNC and how he got his start in show business.How did you first become interested in studying music and making performance into your profession?Back in fifth grade, an elementary school band director in our area dropped by one day to show us a film demonstrating all the different musical instruments. We got to see and hear a bit from each instrument family, but I immediately found myself drawn to the brass. There was something exciting about the brilliant, powerful sounds they made. The trombone in particular stood out to me among the rest—it had a slide instead of buttons to push. Something about the trombone’s unique look and sound convinced me that I wanted to give it a try myself.There was a lot to learn initially, so starting my training as a musician was a bit rough. The director of the first jazz band I ever played in told me that I couldn’t count my way of a paper bag - in other words, I couldn’t read the rhythms on the page! But that initial shock lit a fire under me. I wanted to learn the proper way to produce sound from my instrument and to be able to do the quick math necessary to correctly decipher the written page. I took my lessons very seriously and gradually started to make progress. By the age of 14 I was playing my first gig—an anniversary party for a trucking company that took place in a huge loading dock near Stapleton airport. Even though our sound wasn’t perfect, when the audience applauded, you could tell that they actually appreciated what we were doing. At that point I knew that I was hooked.And how did you continue your musical development as a student at UNC and beyond?Professor Buddy Baker was a huge influence on my decision to attend UNC. I had the opportunity to take lessons with him in high school and he’s been an amazing mentor to me ever since. When I was starting to consider colleges, he told me that if I came to UNC, he would be willing to delay his retirement until I was finished with my studies.His level of commitment caught me off guard at first, but it was a huge comfort as I progressed through my musical training. Buddy is a very systematic teacher: if you follow his curriculum, you’re almost certain to get the results you’re looking for. With him there to guide me, I knew that if I was going to do a music degree in Colorado, it had to be at UNC.UNC is also where I decided to adopt the bass trombone as my primary instrument. I had found myself drawn to those basement-low notes basses played on the recordings I was listening to, but I didn’t actually get a chance to play one until my Freshman year in college. After that, I found myself gravitating (no pun intended) to the bass trombone more and more often. I also noticed that I was getting called for gigs and accepted into ensembles more often when I auditioned on bass, so by my Junior year I was playing it almost exclusively.After moving out to LA, I began to concentrate on diversifying my skill set. Being competent on a number of instruments increases your chances of getting work out here, so I eventually returned to playing some tenor trombone, andpicked up the tuba, contrabass trombone, and even a bit of euphonium. I’m certainly not trying to take work from musicians who are specialists on those instruments, but marketing yourself as a multi-instrumentalist is something of a practical necessity for a freelance player.When did you know you were really starting to break into show business and how did that lead to your gig on Dancing With the Stars?My first big break came in 2003,when I was introduced to the legendary composer and arranger Bill Holman by one of my instructors at the Henry Mancini Institute, an amazing trombonist named Andy Martin. After rehearsing with his band twice, Bill asked me if I’d like to be the regular bass trombonist—which I enthusiastically agreed to! This was the moment that probably most validated my presence in L.A. Here’s this 28-year-old kid that’s just come to town (musicians are typically considered young until around age 45), and Bill Holman thinks enough of him to bring him onto his band? Maybe he has something to offer!After another year-and-a-half of meeting and playing with other musicians on various rehearsals, I started getting calls from certain contractors. One day, I got a call asking if I’d be interested in playing on a short, six-week trial run of a TV show called “Dancing With the Stars” that had seen quite a bit of success in other countries. It turned out that Andy Martin was the one who had recommended me for the position, something I will always be extremely grateful for! I was being presented with an offer to do my very first TV show, so accepting was pretty much a no-brainer.What are some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working on DWTS?DWTS is a fabulous gig that I’m so thankful to be a part of it. The show is mid-way through its 17th season now and there are so many different departments that have been perfectly coordinated to keep this ship sailing smoothly.As for the musicians, we have a lot of activity packed into a very brief window of time. We horn players rarely ever see the sheet music until our morningrehearsal on the day of the broadcast, so that’s our only time to check the arrangement and see if there are any small edits that need to be made. All that while sight-reading our parts! After lunch and a full dress rehearsal there’s just one more small break and we go live to the entire country! The part of this gig I was most worried about initially was knowing that millions of people would be listening to our performance as we were playing. But I’ve found that as long as I’m focusing on the music in front of me and consciously tuning out the audience and the dancers, there doesn’t seem to be any time to worry about nerves. 1 1/2 minutes later and you’re done, moving on to the next chart!It’s inspiring to work with such an amazing team of professionals: from the musicians who create our arrangements each week to the conductor, Harold Wheeler, who has an amazing talent for adapting each song to fit the dancers’ needs. It’s a beautiful thing to see a large ensemble playing on live TV twenty weeks out of the year. And in such a wide variety of musical styles too! It’s practically unheard of nowadays to have so many live musicians performing on a primetime show, but thankfully DWTS is bucking the trend, and hopefully inspiring other shows to do the same!Beyond DWTS, you’ve recorded for or performed with a mind-boggling list of celebrities: Quincy Jones, James Taylor, Julio Iglesias, James Brown, Beyonce, Kanye West, Daft Punk, and on and on. What are some of your favorite experiences collaborating with these big-name musicians?I consider myself very fortunate to have been called upon to provide accompaniment for so many different artists. A recent collaborator that comes to mind is Seth MacFarlane, who I had the pleasure of backing up as he hosted the Academy Awards. Seth is a total “renaissance man” of an entertainer. He’s the creator behind a whole slew of animated comedies: “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show.” He had the entire orchestra rolling with laughter during rehearsals! Seth is also a talented vocalist with a great respect for how important music is to any big production, so he never cuts corners or sacrifices quality.One other performance I’ll mention is when I got to back up Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Peter had just released the album “Scratch My Back,” which consisted of all-orchestral covers of other artists’ works. It was a special experience to be playing those works with such a talented group in front of 18,000 fans. Peter was very appreciative of all of the musicians involved. After a number of curtain calls there was a long standing ovation and he went around to every individual in the ensemble to shake our hands and thank us. Very much a class act!Whenever I’m supporting a big name, I go in with this mindset: I’m grateful to be one of the musicians selected to back this person up. As an ensemble, we are going to give them the framework they need to perform to the best of their abilities. When all of the elements of the performance are coming together perfectly, that’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile.A big thanks to Mr. Gosnell for sharing his story with us! To see a more comprehensive list of his impressive performing credits, click here.If you’re interested in tracking the accomplishments and successes of UNC’s Performing and Visual Arts alumni, be sure to check out the College’s website and official Facebook page. For a chance to see our talented PVA students in action while supporting scholarships for the next generation of UNC performers, be sure to get yourself a ticket to their upcoming Gala Benefit.Are there other distinguished alumni you’d like to see featured on the Bear Den? Tell us about them in the comments section below or email our editor at dan.rosplock@unco.edu.
ZoomInfo
Craig Gosnell (BM-97, MM-98) is a talented multi-instrumentalist whose skill on the trombone has earned him a steady stream of gigs backing up some of the biggest names in show business. In addition to being an in-demand session musician, he’s been a regular member of the Dancing With the Stars orchestra since the show’s beginning in 2005. Mr. Gosnell took some time out of his busy performance schedule to talk with us about his time at UNC and how he got his start in show business.How did you first become interested in studying music and making performance into your profession?Back in fifth grade, an elementary school band director in our area dropped by one day to show us a film demonstrating all the different musical instruments. We got to see and hear a bit from each instrument family, but I immediately found myself drawn to the brass. There was something exciting about the brilliant, powerful sounds they made. The trombone in particular stood out to me among the rest—it had a slide instead of buttons to push. Something about the trombone’s unique look and sound convinced me that I wanted to give it a try myself.There was a lot to learn initially, so starting my training as a musician was a bit rough. The director of the first jazz band I ever played in told me that I couldn’t count my way of a paper bag - in other words, I couldn’t read the rhythms on the page! But that initial shock lit a fire under me. I wanted to learn the proper way to produce sound from my instrument and to be able to do the quick math necessary to correctly decipher the written page. I took my lessons very seriously and gradually started to make progress. By the age of 14 I was playing my first gig—an anniversary party for a trucking company that took place in a huge loading dock near Stapleton airport. Even though our sound wasn’t perfect, when the audience applauded, you could tell that they actually appreciated what we were doing. At that point I knew that I was hooked.And how did you continue your musical development as a student at UNC and beyond?Professor Buddy Baker was a huge influence on my decision to attend UNC. I had the opportunity to take lessons with him in high school and he’s been an amazing mentor to me ever since. When I was starting to consider colleges, he told me that if I came to UNC, he would be willing to delay his retirement until I was finished with my studies.His level of commitment caught me off guard at first, but it was a huge comfort as I progressed through my musical training. Buddy is a very systematic teacher: if you follow his curriculum, you’re almost certain to get the results you’re looking for. With him there to guide me, I knew that if I was going to do a music degree in Colorado, it had to be at UNC.UNC is also where I decided to adopt the bass trombone as my primary instrument. I had found myself drawn to those basement-low notes basses played on the recordings I was listening to, but I didn’t actually get a chance to play one until my Freshman year in college. After that, I found myself gravitating (no pun intended) to the bass trombone more and more often. I also noticed that I was getting called for gigs and accepted into ensembles more often when I auditioned on bass, so by my Junior year I was playing it almost exclusively.After moving out to LA, I began to concentrate on diversifying my skill set. Being competent on a number of instruments increases your chances of getting work out here, so I eventually returned to playing some tenor trombone, andpicked up the tuba, contrabass trombone, and even a bit of euphonium. I’m certainly not trying to take work from musicians who are specialists on those instruments, but marketing yourself as a multi-instrumentalist is something of a practical necessity for a freelance player.When did you know you were really starting to break into show business and how did that lead to your gig on Dancing With the Stars?My first big break came in 2003,when I was introduced to the legendary composer and arranger Bill Holman by one of my instructors at the Henry Mancini Institute, an amazing trombonist named Andy Martin. After rehearsing with his band twice, Bill asked me if I’d like to be the regular bass trombonist—which I enthusiastically agreed to! This was the moment that probably most validated my presence in L.A. Here’s this 28-year-old kid that’s just come to town (musicians are typically considered young until around age 45), and Bill Holman thinks enough of him to bring him onto his band? Maybe he has something to offer!After another year-and-a-half of meeting and playing with other musicians on various rehearsals, I started getting calls from certain contractors. One day, I got a call asking if I’d be interested in playing on a short, six-week trial run of a TV show called “Dancing With the Stars” that had seen quite a bit of success in other countries. It turned out that Andy Martin was the one who had recommended me for the position, something I will always be extremely grateful for! I was being presented with an offer to do my very first TV show, so accepting was pretty much a no-brainer.What are some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working on DWTS?DWTS is a fabulous gig that I’m so thankful to be a part of it. The show is mid-way through its 17th season now and there are so many different departments that have been perfectly coordinated to keep this ship sailing smoothly.As for the musicians, we have a lot of activity packed into a very brief window of time. We horn players rarely ever see the sheet music until our morningrehearsal on the day of the broadcast, so that’s our only time to check the arrangement and see if there are any small edits that need to be made. All that while sight-reading our parts! After lunch and a full dress rehearsal there’s just one more small break and we go live to the entire country! The part of this gig I was most worried about initially was knowing that millions of people would be listening to our performance as we were playing. But I’ve found that as long as I’m focusing on the music in front of me and consciously tuning out the audience and the dancers, there doesn’t seem to be any time to worry about nerves. 1 1/2 minutes later and you’re done, moving on to the next chart!It’s inspiring to work with such an amazing team of professionals: from the musicians who create our arrangements each week to the conductor, Harold Wheeler, who has an amazing talent for adapting each song to fit the dancers’ needs. It’s a beautiful thing to see a large ensemble playing on live TV twenty weeks out of the year. And in such a wide variety of musical styles too! It’s practically unheard of nowadays to have so many live musicians performing on a primetime show, but thankfully DWTS is bucking the trend, and hopefully inspiring other shows to do the same!Beyond DWTS, you’ve recorded for or performed with a mind-boggling list of celebrities: Quincy Jones, James Taylor, Julio Iglesias, James Brown, Beyonce, Kanye West, Daft Punk, and on and on. What are some of your favorite experiences collaborating with these big-name musicians?I consider myself very fortunate to have been called upon to provide accompaniment for so many different artists. A recent collaborator that comes to mind is Seth MacFarlane, who I had the pleasure of backing up as he hosted the Academy Awards. Seth is a total “renaissance man” of an entertainer. He’s the creator behind a whole slew of animated comedies: “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show.” He had the entire orchestra rolling with laughter during rehearsals! Seth is also a talented vocalist with a great respect for how important music is to any big production, so he never cuts corners or sacrifices quality.One other performance I’ll mention is when I got to back up Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Peter had just released the album “Scratch My Back,” which consisted of all-orchestral covers of other artists’ works. It was a special experience to be playing those works with such a talented group in front of 18,000 fans. Peter was very appreciative of all of the musicians involved. After a number of curtain calls there was a long standing ovation and he went around to every individual in the ensemble to shake our hands and thank us. Very much a class act!Whenever I’m supporting a big name, I go in with this mindset: I’m grateful to be one of the musicians selected to back this person up. As an ensemble, we are going to give them the framework they need to perform to the best of their abilities. When all of the elements of the performance are coming together perfectly, that’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile.A big thanks to Mr. Gosnell for sharing his story with us! To see a more comprehensive list of his impressive performing credits, click here.If you’re interested in tracking the accomplishments and successes of UNC’s Performing and Visual Arts alumni, be sure to check out the College’s website and official Facebook page. For a chance to see our talented PVA students in action while supporting scholarships for the next generation of UNC performers, be sure to get yourself a ticket to their upcoming Gala Benefit.Are there other distinguished alumni you’d like to see featured on the Bear Den? Tell us about them in the comments section below or email our editor at dan.rosplock@unco.edu.
ZoomInfo
Craig Gosnell (BM-97, MM-98) is a talented multi-instrumentalist whose skill on the trombone has earned him a steady stream of gigs backing up some of the biggest names in show business. In addition to being an in-demand session musician, he’s been a regular member of the Dancing With the Stars orchestra since the show’s beginning in 2005. Mr. Gosnell took some time out of his busy performance schedule to talk with us about his time at UNC and how he got his start in show business.How did you first become interested in studying music and making performance into your profession?Back in fifth grade, an elementary school band director in our area dropped by one day to show us a film demonstrating all the different musical instruments. We got to see and hear a bit from each instrument family, but I immediately found myself drawn to the brass. There was something exciting about the brilliant, powerful sounds they made. The trombone in particular stood out to me among the rest—it had a slide instead of buttons to push. Something about the trombone’s unique look and sound convinced me that I wanted to give it a try myself.There was a lot to learn initially, so starting my training as a musician was a bit rough. The director of the first jazz band I ever played in told me that I couldn’t count my way of a paper bag - in other words, I couldn’t read the rhythms on the page! But that initial shock lit a fire under me. I wanted to learn the proper way to produce sound from my instrument and to be able to do the quick math necessary to correctly decipher the written page. I took my lessons very seriously and gradually started to make progress. By the age of 14 I was playing my first gig—an anniversary party for a trucking company that took place in a huge loading dock near Stapleton airport. Even though our sound wasn’t perfect, when the audience applauded, you could tell that they actually appreciated what we were doing. At that point I knew that I was hooked.And how did you continue your musical development as a student at UNC and beyond?Professor Buddy Baker was a huge influence on my decision to attend UNC. I had the opportunity to take lessons with him in high school and he’s been an amazing mentor to me ever since. When I was starting to consider colleges, he told me that if I came to UNC, he would be willing to delay his retirement until I was finished with my studies.His level of commitment caught me off guard at first, but it was a huge comfort as I progressed through my musical training. Buddy is a very systematic teacher: if you follow his curriculum, you’re almost certain to get the results you’re looking for. With him there to guide me, I knew that if I was going to do a music degree in Colorado, it had to be at UNC.UNC is also where I decided to adopt the bass trombone as my primary instrument. I had found myself drawn to those basement-low notes basses played on the recordings I was listening to, but I didn’t actually get a chance to play one until my Freshman year in college. After that, I found myself gravitating (no pun intended) to the bass trombone more and more often. I also noticed that I was getting called for gigs and accepted into ensembles more often when I auditioned on bass, so by my Junior year I was playing it almost exclusively.After moving out to LA, I began to concentrate on diversifying my skill set. Being competent on a number of instruments increases your chances of getting work out here, so I eventually returned to playing some tenor trombone, andpicked up the tuba, contrabass trombone, and even a bit of euphonium. I’m certainly not trying to take work from musicians who are specialists on those instruments, but marketing yourself as a multi-instrumentalist is something of a practical necessity for a freelance player.When did you know you were really starting to break into show business and how did that lead to your gig on Dancing With the Stars?My first big break came in 2003,when I was introduced to the legendary composer and arranger Bill Holman by one of my instructors at the Henry Mancini Institute, an amazing trombonist named Andy Martin. After rehearsing with his band twice, Bill asked me if I’d like to be the regular bass trombonist—which I enthusiastically agreed to! This was the moment that probably most validated my presence in L.A. Here’s this 28-year-old kid that’s just come to town (musicians are typically considered young until around age 45), and Bill Holman thinks enough of him to bring him onto his band? Maybe he has something to offer!After another year-and-a-half of meeting and playing with other musicians on various rehearsals, I started getting calls from certain contractors. One day, I got a call asking if I’d be interested in playing on a short, six-week trial run of a TV show called “Dancing With the Stars” that had seen quite a bit of success in other countries. It turned out that Andy Martin was the one who had recommended me for the position, something I will always be extremely grateful for! I was being presented with an offer to do my very first TV show, so accepting was pretty much a no-brainer.What are some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working on DWTS?DWTS is a fabulous gig that I’m so thankful to be a part of it. The show is mid-way through its 17th season now and there are so many different departments that have been perfectly coordinated to keep this ship sailing smoothly.As for the musicians, we have a lot of activity packed into a very brief window of time. We horn players rarely ever see the sheet music until our morningrehearsal on the day of the broadcast, so that’s our only time to check the arrangement and see if there are any small edits that need to be made. All that while sight-reading our parts! After lunch and a full dress rehearsal there’s just one more small break and we go live to the entire country! The part of this gig I was most worried about initially was knowing that millions of people would be listening to our performance as we were playing. But I’ve found that as long as I’m focusing on the music in front of me and consciously tuning out the audience and the dancers, there doesn’t seem to be any time to worry about nerves. 1 1/2 minutes later and you’re done, moving on to the next chart!It’s inspiring to work with such an amazing team of professionals: from the musicians who create our arrangements each week to the conductor, Harold Wheeler, who has an amazing talent for adapting each song to fit the dancers’ needs. It’s a beautiful thing to see a large ensemble playing on live TV twenty weeks out of the year. And in such a wide variety of musical styles too! It’s practically unheard of nowadays to have so many live musicians performing on a primetime show, but thankfully DWTS is bucking the trend, and hopefully inspiring other shows to do the same!Beyond DWTS, you’ve recorded for or performed with a mind-boggling list of celebrities: Quincy Jones, James Taylor, Julio Iglesias, James Brown, Beyonce, Kanye West, Daft Punk, and on and on. What are some of your favorite experiences collaborating with these big-name musicians?I consider myself very fortunate to have been called upon to provide accompaniment for so many different artists. A recent collaborator that comes to mind is Seth MacFarlane, who I had the pleasure of backing up as he hosted the Academy Awards. Seth is a total “renaissance man” of an entertainer. He’s the creator behind a whole slew of animated comedies: “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show.” He had the entire orchestra rolling with laughter during rehearsals! Seth is also a talented vocalist with a great respect for how important music is to any big production, so he never cuts corners or sacrifices quality.One other performance I’ll mention is when I got to back up Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Peter had just released the album “Scratch My Back,” which consisted of all-orchestral covers of other artists’ works. It was a special experience to be playing those works with such a talented group in front of 18,000 fans. Peter was very appreciative of all of the musicians involved. After a number of curtain calls there was a long standing ovation and he went around to every individual in the ensemble to shake our hands and thank us. Very much a class act!Whenever I’m supporting a big name, I go in with this mindset: I’m grateful to be one of the musicians selected to back this person up. As an ensemble, we are going to give them the framework they need to perform to the best of their abilities. When all of the elements of the performance are coming together perfectly, that’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile.A big thanks to Mr. Gosnell for sharing his story with us! To see a more comprehensive list of his impressive performing credits, click here.If you’re interested in tracking the accomplishments and successes of UNC’s Performing and Visual Arts alumni, be sure to check out the College’s website and official Facebook page. For a chance to see our talented PVA students in action while supporting scholarships for the next generation of UNC performers, be sure to get yourself a ticket to their upcoming Gala Benefit.Are there other distinguished alumni you’d like to see featured on the Bear Den? Tell us about them in the comments section below or email our editor at dan.rosplock@unco.edu.
ZoomInfo

Craig Gosnell (BM-97, MM-98) is a talented multi-instrumentalist whose skill on the trombone has earned him a steady stream of gigs backing up some of the biggest names in show business. In addition to being an in-demand session musician, he’s been a regular member of the Dancing With the Stars orchestra since the show’s beginning in 2005. Mr. Gosnell took some time out of his busy performance schedule to talk with us about his time at UNC and how he got his start in show business.

How did you first become interested in studying music and making performance into your profession?

Back in fifth grade, an elementary school band director in our area dropped by one day to show us a film demonstrating all the different musical instruments. We got to see and hear a bit from each instrument family, but I immediately found myself drawn to the brass. There was something exciting about the brilliant, powerful sounds they made. The trombone in particular stood out to me among the rest—it had a slide instead of buttons to push. Something about the trombone’s unique look and sound convinced me that I wanted to give it a try myself.

There was a lot to learn initially, so starting my training as a musician was a bit rough. The director of the first jazz band I ever played in told me that I couldn’t count my way of a paper bag - in other words, I couldn’t read the rhythms on the page! But that initial shock lit a fire under me. I wanted to learn the proper way to produce sound from my instrument and to be able to do the quick math necessary to correctly decipher the written page. I took my lessons very seriously and gradually started to make progress. By the age of 14 I was playing my first gig—an anniversary party for a trucking company that took place in a huge loading dock near Stapleton airport. Even though our sound wasn’t perfect, when the audience applauded, you could tell that they actually appreciated what we were doing. At that point I knew that I was hooked.

And how did you continue your musical development as a student at UNC and beyond?

Professor Buddy Baker was a huge influence on my decision to attend UNC. I had the opportunity to take lessons with him in high school and he’s been an amazing mentor to me ever since. When I was starting to consider colleges, he told me that if I came to UNC, he would be willing to delay his retirement until I was finished with my studies.His level of commitment caught me off guard at first, but it was a huge comfort as I progressed through my musical training. Buddy is a very systematic teacher: if you follow his curriculum, you’re almost certain to get the results you’re looking for. With him there to guide me, I knew that if I was going to do a music degree in Colorado, it had to be at UNC.

UNC is also where I decided to adopt the bass trombone as my primary instrument. I had found myself drawn to those basement-low notes basses played on the recordings I was listening to, but I didn’t actually get a chance to play one until my Freshman year in college. After that, I found myself gravitating (no pun intended) to the bass trombone more and more often. I also noticed that I was getting called for gigs and accepted into ensembles more often when I auditioned on bass, so by my Junior year I was playing it almost exclusively.

After moving out to LA, I began to concentrate on diversifying my skill set. Being competent on a number of instruments increases your chances of getting work out here, so I eventually returned to playing some tenor trombone, andpicked up the tuba, contrabass trombone, and even a bit of euphonium. I’m certainly not trying to take work from musicians who are specialists on those instruments, but marketing yourself as a multi-instrumentalist is something of a practical necessity for a freelance player.

When did you know you were really starting to break into show business and how did that lead to your gig on Dancing With the Stars?

My first big break came in 2003,when I was introduced to the legendary composer and arranger Bill Holman by one of my instructors at the Henry Mancini Institute, an amazing trombonist named Andy Martin. After rehearsing with his band twice, Bill asked me if I’d like to be the regular bass trombonist—which I enthusiastically agreed to! This was the moment that probably most validated my presence in L.A. Here’s this 28-year-old kid that’s just come to town (musicians are typically considered young until around age 45), and Bill Holman thinks enough of him to bring him onto his band? Maybe he has something to offer!

After another year-and-a-half of meeting and playing with other musicians on various rehearsals, I started getting calls from certain contractors. One day, I got a call asking if I’d be interested in playing on a short, six-week trial run of a TV show called “Dancing With the Stars” that had seen quite a bit of success in other countries. It turned out that Andy Martin was the one who had recommended me for the position, something I will always be extremely grateful for! I was being presented with an offer to do my very first TV show, so accepting was pretty much a no-brainer.

What are some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working on DWTS?

DWTS is a fabulous gig that I’m so thankful to be a part of it. The show is mid-way through its 17th season now and there are so many different departments that have been perfectly coordinated to keep this ship sailing smoothly.

As for the musicians, we have a lot of activity packed into a very brief window of time. We horn players rarely ever see the sheet music until our morningrehearsal on the day of the broadcast, so that’s our only time to check the arrangement and see if there are any small edits that need to be made. All that while sight-reading our parts! After lunch and a full dress rehearsal there’s just one more small break and we go live to the entire country! 

The part of this gig I was most worried about initially was knowing that millions of people would be listening to our performance as we were playing. But I’ve found that as long as I’m focusing on the music in front of me and consciously tuning out the audience and the dancers, there doesn’t seem to be any time to worry about nerves. 1 1/2 minutes later and you’re done, moving on to the next chart!

It’s inspiring to work with such an amazing team of professionals: from the musicians who create our arrangements each week to the conductor, Harold Wheeler, who has an amazing talent for adapting each song to fit the dancers’ needs. It’s a beautiful thing to see a large ensemble playing on live TV twenty weeks out of the year. And in such a wide variety of musical styles too! It’s practically unheard of nowadays to have so many live musicians performing on a primetime show, but thankfully DWTS is bucking the trend, and hopefully inspiring other shows to do the same!

Beyond DWTS, you’ve recorded for or performed with a mind-boggling list of celebrities: Quincy Jones, James Taylor, Julio Iglesias, James Brown, Beyonce, Kanye West, Daft Punk, and on and on. What are some of your favorite experiences collaborating with these big-name musicians?

I consider myself very fortunate to have been called upon to provide accompaniment for so many different artists. A recent collaborator that comes to mind is Seth MacFarlane, who I had the pleasure of backing up as he hosted the Academy Awards. Seth is a total “renaissance man” of an entertainer. He’s the creator behind a whole slew of animated comedies: “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show.” He had the entire orchestra rolling with laughter during rehearsals! Seth is also a talented vocalist with a great respect for how important music is to any big production, so he never cuts corners or sacrifices quality.

One other performance I’ll mention is when I got to back up Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Peter had just released the album “Scratch My Back,” which consisted of all-orchestral covers of other artists’ works. It was a special experience to be playing those works with such a talented group in front of 18,000 fans. Peter was very appreciative of all of the musicians involved. After a number of curtain calls there was a long standing ovation and he went around to every individual in the ensemble to shake our hands and thank us. Very much a class act!

Whenever I’m supporting a big name, I go in with this mindset: I’m grateful to be one of the musicians selected to back this person up. As an ensemble, we are going to give them the framework they need to perform to the best of their abilities. When all of the elements of the performance are coming together perfectly, that’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile.

A big thanks to Mr. Gosnell for sharing his story with us! To see a more comprehensive list of his impressive performing credits, click here.

If you’re interested in tracking the accomplishments and successes of UNC’s Performing and Visual Arts alumni, be sure to check out the College’s website and official Facebook page. For a chance to see our talented PVA students in action while supporting scholarships for the next generation of UNC performers, be sure to get yourself a ticket to their upcoming Gala Benefit.

Are there other distinguished alumni you’d like to see featured on the Bear Den? Tell us about them in the comments section below or email our editor at dan.rosplock@unco.edu.

There’s a movement stirring all across this great country of ours: UNC alumni groups are popping up everywhere from Denver to the east coast. These organizations are emerging from the grassroots efforts of passionate grads like Ryan Shucard (BA-11), a former student senator who is currently making his mark on national politics as a regular lecturer at the Washington Media Institute and a Media Relations Manager for the ASPPA.

Along with Aundrea Montano (BA-10), Joseph Maltby (BA-05), and Matt VanDriel (BS-11), Mr. Shucard is helping to facilitate the inaugural gathering of Bears in DC on Thursday, November 9th. He took some time to talk with us about the origin of this exciting new group and what the future might hold for UNC alumni who decide to make the big move out to our nation’s capital.

What was the inspiration behind Bears in DC?

It came out of a conversation between myself and Aundrea Montano. Aundrea and I took a ton of classes together at UNC and she’s stayed very involved with the university through her position on the Young Alumni Council. One day we got together and started talking about how much we miss UNC and how great it would be if we had some sort of framework that would allow us to bring all our DC grads together. UNC students share so many common experiences and values, sometimes the local social groups just don’t seem to cut it by comparison. Carving out that “home away from home” in DC means finding a way to bring along a little slice of university life.

We also thought it would be wonderful if we could offer alumni who are new to the area a multi-generational network of grads that they could tap into. Being fellow UNC alumni, the members of this network would be able to offer advice to newer grads based on a concrete understanding of where they’re coming from. Creating a DC alumni group seemed like a fun way to go about accomplishing all of these goals.

What has your experience as a UNC alum in DC been like?

When I first moved out here, to be honest, I was a bit nervous. DC has a reputation for being hard to break into if you lack the “proper connections.” But after all my experiences here and meeting so many inspiring alumni, I can say for a fact that UNC grads are making a huge difference in DC. I’d put a Bear up against any Ivy Leaguer in this town, any day of the week. 

I think the real advantage UNC grads have when they’re coming out here is that they’ve already experienced what it’s like to live, learn, and work in a tight-knit community.  That’s the sort of social environment that teaches you the value of relationships and how to be accountable to your colleagues. Those are skills that are going to serve you well no matter where you are.

As far as keeping in touch with what’s going on in the UNC community after moving away, that can be tricky. There are a lot of very driven Bears in DC and all over the country—that means lots of busy schedules. But staying connected is definitely getting easier. I’m able to keep up on a lot of fun and interesting updates through social media and now with the Alumni Association’s app I have a customized UNC newsfeed right on my phone. I think that this social space we’re creating with the Bears in DC group where grads can gather and interact face-to-face is really going to complement and build off of those initiatives.

What can participants expect from their Bears in DC experience?

As a facilitator for this first event,my main interest is providing alumni with an opportunity to get together and enjoy themselves. Down the road there will be plenty of goals to set and decisions to make: what we want our next event to be, how we want our organization to evolve over time, ways that we can reach out to new alumni and welcome them into the fold. But for this initial get-together, I’m just really excited to see who shows up and hear their stories. It’s a remarkable journey from UNC to Washington DC, but when you’re a Bear you carry those experiences around with you your whole life. It’ll be exciting to see where all of these people have been and where they’re going.

And what kinds of stories do you have to share from your time at UNC?

UNC opened a lot of doors for me. It’s where I found my passion and realized what I wanted to do with my life.

In 2008, right around the time of the presidential election between Obama and McCain, I took a course in political communications with Dr. Kelly Scott. The things we read and the discussions we had there just spoke to me. Going in, I was already interested in politics and the philosophy of governing, but the perspective I gained from that course really convinced me that political communications would be my calling.

Serving as a member of UNC’s Student Senate was also a hugely influential experience. We were able to pass a number of successful policies including the Quality of Life Act and we received so much support from the student body, faculty and, staff. It really demonstrated to me how effective policy can be when a whole community is united behind it.

Where do you see Bears in DC heading in the future?

The idea is to start small and see where it goes. The Alumni Association is backing us in our roll-out, but it will really be up to our members to determine where we want to focus our efforts. Who knows? Maybe a year or two from now we can get a Bears in DC Homecoming excursion planned. Why not shoot for the stars? 

A big thanks to Mr. Shucard and all the other Bears in DC who are helping to take the UNC Alumni Association to new heights! If you’re in our nation’s capital and you’d like to participate in this inaugural Bears in DC event, be sure to register here and let us know you’re coming. 

If you’re interested in starting a regional UNC alumni group and you have a 2-4 grads in your area who are willing to help facilitate the launch, contact our Associate Director of Alumni Relations at matthew.brinton@unco.edu. Don’t know other Bears in your region? Our Facebook page and LinkedIn network are great ways to find fellow alumni no matter where you are. Happy socializing! 

UNC alumna Molly Fahey (BA-07) has worn many hats in her professional life. She’s been a gossip show hostess, an on-the-scene reporter, even an independent chocolatier. However, few of her dramatic roles have been as high profile as the iconic “Bikini Girl” from the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. Amidst a storm of internet speculation about the “true identity” of Bikini Girl, Grand Theft Auto V was released, earning over one billion dollars worldwide in its first three days. Mrs. Fahey is now slated to play the role of Gazelle in the upcoming film adaptation of the comics series New-Gen with distribution through Marvel. She took some time to speak with us about her experience as an actress working on the forefront of big-budget entertainment and how her time at UNC helped prepare her for one of the biggest roles of her career.
What brought you to study Musical Theatre at UNC?
It’s kind of a funny story because I was immersed in UNC’s culture long before I became a college student. I went to high school at Greeley Central right around the corner from campus and my step-mom is a professor in the Audiology and Speech department. Half of my friends’ parents worked at the University too and they were the ones who gave me my first lessons in voice, piano, dance and acting. 
Like most college-aged kids, my first instinct was to fly the nest and go someplace far away for school. However, as my parents and I weighed out the pros and cons of all the schools I was considering, UNC kept coming back to the top of my list.  Our Performing Arts program really is a gem! It cranks out incredibly talented students who are ready to tackle the demands of the “real world.” Living in New York and seeing so many of our alumni out here doing amazing work makes me that much prouder of my decision to attend UNC.  Bears really do pop up everywhere in this business and I’m happy to be a part of that family. 
And how did your UNC experiences equip you for the “real world” of show business?
One of the major factors in my decision to attend UNC was the incredible amount of support and networking opportunities they provide for their students. As a graduating senior, they give you the chance to attend industry showcases in New York and LA that put you face-to-face with casting directors and agents. The connections you make with these outside professionals and your fellow Performing Arts students are absolutely invaluable. 
If there is one thing I’ve come to appreciate in this industry more than anything else, it’s how important it is to surround yourself with loving and supportive people.  Business already has a tendency to be cut-throat, the show business even more so.  You can’t even fathom the amount of negativity and rejection you’ll face.  But it’s those uncomfortable situations that make you realize how important it is to have great friends to lean on: former classmates and professors like David Grapes. When I need expert advice on how to handle a tough project, my UNC family is always ready to lend a hand.
What would you consider to be some of the major turning points of your career?
Beyond that initial step of moving out to NYC to make my dreams a reality, pursuing acting full-time has proven to be one of the most significant decisions I’ve made in my professional life. After four years living and working in NYC, I came to the realization that I would have to quit my day job if I wanted to make a successful career out of acting. I still remember the date—Dec. 1st, 2011—because it was such an emotional decision. I’ve had some very exciting breaks in my career since then, but at the time it was definitely a leap of faith. Now that I’ve made my debut in the billion dollar Grand Theft Auto franchise, I’m more excited than ever to see where that decision is going to take me.
Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, how did you come to play a character in one of the world’s biggest video game franchises?
The short version: my agent sent me out on an audition, the stars aligned, and I booked the job.  The long version is that, I’ve been pounding the pavement in NYC every day for six years.  I go on tons of auditions, I network, take classes, and perform as much as possible. 
The GTA audition was kind of a whirlwind. I was given about two seconds to look over the script before I went into the room. The casting director who was reading the scene with me said that movement and physical awareness were really essential to this character, so I thought it over and asked if I could improvise the scene.  I never would have had that confidence or skill set to attempt what I did on that audition when I was starting out six years ago, but it ended up paying off!  
And what was the actual performing process like?
The two modes of performing I did for GTA V were voiceover and motion capture. I first became involved in voiceover acting when I enrolled in a summer program at UNC’s partner university, The New York School For Film and Television. I took a voiceover class there and I found myself really getting into it.
Voiceover is a unique style of acting in that you have to visualize an entire world in your head as you perform.  Sound booths are not big—it’s just you and a microphone—but the script might have your character shouting at her boyfriend from across a swimming pool. All of that emotion and this imaginary world you’re trying to create have to be conveyed through your voice. The feelings that you’d usually be able to evoke using movement in a physical environment are simply not available to you.  As an actor, it forces you to tap into some very deep parts of your imagination.  
As far as motion capture work goes, it’s a pretty wild experience. They have you wearing this full-body suit which is completely covered in sensors.  Generally speaking, the sets are added digitally into the final product. So, again, it forces you to conjure up this fantasy world using a very minimal form of expression: movement. Some of the other creative projects I’m involved in require me to do a great deal of hosting in green screen studios and I think that experience of interacting with virtual sets has helped to ease my transition into motion capture work.  
In all honesty, I think that these techniques, voiceover and motion capture, represent the future of big-budget media production. Pushing myself to perform in these new ways has been one of the most exciting experiences of my career. I can’t wait to do it all again for my role in the New-Gen franchise!
Looking back on everything you’ve accomplished so far, what advice would you give to other alumni who are looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Everyone’s experience of this industry is going to be different, so I think the important thing to consider is how you’re going to handle the challenges and successes that come your way. In that regard, my main piece of advice would be to stay true to yourself and pursue the things that make you happy. Don’t let this business or the people around you try to mold you into something you’re not.  The things that make you unique are the qualities that are going to help you to stand out in this industry. 
Lastly, it’s really essential that you build up a support network around yourself and seek out those people who are going to be a positive influence on your life. My husband has reminded me time and time again that success in this profession most often comes from finding that one person who truly believe in you. I found that person at UNC.  From the moment David Grapes took over the School of Theatre he’s been helping shape me into the actress I am today.  For that I am truly grateful.
If you’d like to keep tabs on where Molly Fahey’s career is headed next, you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, IMDb. For a broader view on what our Performing and Visual Arts alumni are up to, tune into David Grapes’ monthly updates. You can also find a range of interesting stories on PVA’s main site and social media hub.
Photos from top to bottom: Molly preparing for the role of Gazelle in the upcoming New-Gen film, Molly and her video game alter ego: Grand Theft Auto V’s “Bikini Girl”
ZoomInfo
UNC alumna Molly Fahey (BA-07) has worn many hats in her professional life. She’s been a gossip show hostess, an on-the-scene reporter, even an independent chocolatier. However, few of her dramatic roles have been as high profile as the iconic “Bikini Girl” from the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. Amidst a storm of internet speculation about the “true identity” of Bikini Girl, Grand Theft Auto V was released, earning over one billion dollars worldwide in its first three days. Mrs. Fahey is now slated to play the role of Gazelle in the upcoming film adaptation of the comics series New-Gen with distribution through Marvel. She took some time to speak with us about her experience as an actress working on the forefront of big-budget entertainment and how her time at UNC helped prepare her for one of the biggest roles of her career.
What brought you to study Musical Theatre at UNC?
It’s kind of a funny story because I was immersed in UNC’s culture long before I became a college student. I went to high school at Greeley Central right around the corner from campus and my step-mom is a professor in the Audiology and Speech department. Half of my friends’ parents worked at the University too and they were the ones who gave me my first lessons in voice, piano, dance and acting. 
Like most college-aged kids, my first instinct was to fly the nest and go someplace far away for school. However, as my parents and I weighed out the pros and cons of all the schools I was considering, UNC kept coming back to the top of my list.  Our Performing Arts program really is a gem! It cranks out incredibly talented students who are ready to tackle the demands of the “real world.” Living in New York and seeing so many of our alumni out here doing amazing work makes me that much prouder of my decision to attend UNC.  Bears really do pop up everywhere in this business and I’m happy to be a part of that family. 
And how did your UNC experiences equip you for the “real world” of show business?
One of the major factors in my decision to attend UNC was the incredible amount of support and networking opportunities they provide for their students. As a graduating senior, they give you the chance to attend industry showcases in New York and LA that put you face-to-face with casting directors and agents. The connections you make with these outside professionals and your fellow Performing Arts students are absolutely invaluable. 
If there is one thing I’ve come to appreciate in this industry more than anything else, it’s how important it is to surround yourself with loving and supportive people.  Business already has a tendency to be cut-throat, the show business even more so.  You can’t even fathom the amount of negativity and rejection you’ll face.  But it’s those uncomfortable situations that make you realize how important it is to have great friends to lean on: former classmates and professors like David Grapes. When I need expert advice on how to handle a tough project, my UNC family is always ready to lend a hand.
What would you consider to be some of the major turning points of your career?
Beyond that initial step of moving out to NYC to make my dreams a reality, pursuing acting full-time has proven to be one of the most significant decisions I’ve made in my professional life. After four years living and working in NYC, I came to the realization that I would have to quit my day job if I wanted to make a successful career out of acting. I still remember the date—Dec. 1st, 2011—because it was such an emotional decision. I’ve had some very exciting breaks in my career since then, but at the time it was definitely a leap of faith. Now that I’ve made my debut in the billion dollar Grand Theft Auto franchise, I’m more excited than ever to see where that decision is going to take me.
Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, how did you come to play a character in one of the world’s biggest video game franchises?
The short version: my agent sent me out on an audition, the stars aligned, and I booked the job.  The long version is that, I’ve been pounding the pavement in NYC every day for six years.  I go on tons of auditions, I network, take classes, and perform as much as possible. 
The GTA audition was kind of a whirlwind. I was given about two seconds to look over the script before I went into the room. The casting director who was reading the scene with me said that movement and physical awareness were really essential to this character, so I thought it over and asked if I could improvise the scene.  I never would have had that confidence or skill set to attempt what I did on that audition when I was starting out six years ago, but it ended up paying off!  
And what was the actual performing process like?
The two modes of performing I did for GTA V were voiceover and motion capture. I first became involved in voiceover acting when I enrolled in a summer program at UNC’s partner university, The New York School For Film and Television. I took a voiceover class there and I found myself really getting into it.
Voiceover is a unique style of acting in that you have to visualize an entire world in your head as you perform.  Sound booths are not big—it’s just you and a microphone—but the script might have your character shouting at her boyfriend from across a swimming pool. All of that emotion and this imaginary world you’re trying to create have to be conveyed through your voice. The feelings that you’d usually be able to evoke using movement in a physical environment are simply not available to you.  As an actor, it forces you to tap into some very deep parts of your imagination.  
As far as motion capture work goes, it’s a pretty wild experience. They have you wearing this full-body suit which is completely covered in sensors.  Generally speaking, the sets are added digitally into the final product. So, again, it forces you to conjure up this fantasy world using a very minimal form of expression: movement. Some of the other creative projects I’m involved in require me to do a great deal of hosting in green screen studios and I think that experience of interacting with virtual sets has helped to ease my transition into motion capture work.  
In all honesty, I think that these techniques, voiceover and motion capture, represent the future of big-budget media production. Pushing myself to perform in these new ways has been one of the most exciting experiences of my career. I can’t wait to do it all again for my role in the New-Gen franchise!
Looking back on everything you’ve accomplished so far, what advice would you give to other alumni who are looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Everyone’s experience of this industry is going to be different, so I think the important thing to consider is how you’re going to handle the challenges and successes that come your way. In that regard, my main piece of advice would be to stay true to yourself and pursue the things that make you happy. Don’t let this business or the people around you try to mold you into something you’re not.  The things that make you unique are the qualities that are going to help you to stand out in this industry. 
Lastly, it’s really essential that you build up a support network around yourself and seek out those people who are going to be a positive influence on your life. My husband has reminded me time and time again that success in this profession most often comes from finding that one person who truly believe in you. I found that person at UNC.  From the moment David Grapes took over the School of Theatre he’s been helping shape me into the actress I am today.  For that I am truly grateful.
If you’d like to keep tabs on where Molly Fahey’s career is headed next, you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, IMDb. For a broader view on what our Performing and Visual Arts alumni are up to, tune into David Grapes’ monthly updates. You can also find a range of interesting stories on PVA’s main site and social media hub.
Photos from top to bottom: Molly preparing for the role of Gazelle in the upcoming New-Gen film, Molly and her video game alter ego: Grand Theft Auto V’s “Bikini Girl”
ZoomInfo

UNC alumna Molly Fahey (BA-07) has worn many hats in her professional life. She’s been a gossip show hostess, an on-the-scene reporter, even an independent chocolatier. However, few of her dramatic roles have been as high profile as the iconic “Bikini Girl” from the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. Amidst a storm of internet speculation about the “true identity” of Bikini Girl, Grand Theft Auto V was released, earning over one billion dollars worldwide in its first three days. Mrs. Fahey is now slated to play the role of Gazelle in the upcoming film adaptation of the comics series New-Gen with distribution through Marvel. She took some time to speak with us about her experience as an actress working on the forefront of big-budget entertainment and how her time at UNC helped prepare her for one of the biggest roles of her career.

What brought you to study Musical Theatre at UNC?

It’s kind of a funny story because I was immersed in UNC’s culture long before I became a college student. I went to high school at Greeley Central right around the corner from campus and my step-mom is a professor in the Audiology and Speech department. Half of my friends’ parents worked at the University too and they were the ones who gave me my first lessons in voice, piano, dance and acting. 

Like most college-aged kids, my first instinct was to fly the nest and go someplace far away for school. However, as my parents and I weighed out the pros and cons of all the schools I was considering, UNC kept coming back to the top of my list.  Our Performing Arts program really is a gem! It cranks out incredibly talented students who are ready to tackle the demands of the “real world.” Living in New York and seeing so many of our alumni out here doing amazing work makes me that much prouder of my decision to attend UNC.  Bears really do pop up everywhere in this business and I’m happy to be a part of that family. 

And how did your UNC experiences equip you for the “real world” of show business?

One of the major factors in my decision to attend UNC was the incredible amount of support and networking opportunities they provide for their students. As a graduating senior, they give you the chance to attend industry showcases in New York and LA that put you face-to-face with casting directors and agents. The connections you make with these outside professionals and your fellow Performing Arts students are absolutely invaluable

If there is one thing I’ve come to appreciate in this industry more than anything else, it’s how important it is to surround yourself with loving and supportive people.  Business already has a tendency to be cut-throat, the show business even more so.  You can’t even fathom the amount of negativity and rejection you’ll face.  But it’s those uncomfortable situations that make you realize how important it is to have great friends to lean on: former classmates and professors like David Grapes. When I need expert advice on how to handle a tough project, my UNC family is always ready to lend a hand.

What would you consider to be some of the major turning points of your career?

Beyond that initial step of moving out to NYC to make my dreams a reality, pursuing acting full-time has proven to be one of the most significant decisions I’ve made in my professional life. After four years living and working in NYC, I came to the realization that I would have to quit my day job if I wanted to make a successful career out of acting. I still remember the date—Dec. 1st, 2011—because it was such an emotional decision. I’ve had some very exciting breaks in my career since then, but at the time it was definitely a leap of faith. Now that I’ve made my debut in the billion dollar Grand Theft Auto franchise, I’m more excited than ever to see where that decision is going to take me.

Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, how did you come to play a character in one of the world’s biggest video game franchises?

The short version: my agent sent me out on an audition, the stars aligned, and I booked the job.  The long version is that, I’ve been pounding the pavement in NYC every day for six years.  I go on tons of auditions, I network, take classes, and perform as much as possible. 

The GTA audition was kind of a whirlwind. I was given about two seconds to look over the script before I went into the room. The casting director who was reading the scene with me said that movement and physical awareness were really essential to this character, so I thought it over and asked if I could improvise the scene.  I never would have had that confidence or skill set to attempt what I did on that audition when I was starting out six years ago, but it ended up paying off!  

And what was the actual performing process like?

The two modes of performing I did for GTA V were voiceover and motion capture. I first became involved in voiceover acting when I enrolled in a summer program at UNC’s partner university, The New York School For Film and Television. I took a voiceover class there and I found myself really getting into it.

Voiceover is a unique style of acting in that you have to visualize an entire world in your head as you perform.  Sound booths are not big—it’s just you and a microphone—but the script might have your character shouting at her boyfriend from across a swimming pool. All of that emotion and this imaginary world you’re trying to create have to be conveyed through your voice. The feelings that you’d usually be able to evoke using movement in a physical environment are simply not available to you.  As an actor, it forces you to tap into some very deep parts of your imagination.  

As far as motion capture work goes, it’s a pretty wild experience. They have you wearing this full-body suit which is completely covered in sensors.  Generally speaking, the sets are added digitally into the final product. So, again, it forces you to conjure up this fantasy world using a very minimal form of expression: movement. Some of the other creative projects I’m involved in require me to do a great deal of hosting in green screen studios and I think that experience of interacting with virtual sets has helped to ease my transition into motion capture work.  

In all honesty, I think that these techniques, voiceover and motion capture, represent the future of big-budget media production. Pushing myself to perform in these new ways has been one of the most exciting experiences of my career. I can’t wait to do it all again for my role in the New-Gen franchise!

Looking back on everything you’ve accomplished so far, what advice would you give to other alumni who are looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

Everyone’s experience of this industry is going to be different, so I think the important thing to consider is how you’re going to handle the challenges and successes that come your way. In that regard, my main piece of advice would be to stay true to yourself and pursue the things that make you happy. Don’t let this business or the people around you try to mold you into something you’re not.  The things that make you unique are the qualities that are going to help you to stand out in this industry. 

Lastly, it’s really essential that you build up a support network around yourself and seek out those people who are going to be a positive influence on your life. My husband has reminded me time and time again that success in this profession most often comes from finding that one person who truly believe in you. I found that person at UNC.  From the moment David Grapes took over the School of Theatre he’s been helping shape me into the actress I am today.  For that I am truly grateful.

If you’d like to keep tabs on where Molly Fahey’s career is headed next, you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, IMDb. For a broader view on what our Performing and Visual Arts alumni are up to, tune into David Grapes’ monthly updates. You can also find a range of interesting stories on PVA’s main site and social media hub.

Photos from top to bottom: Molly preparing for the role of Gazelle in the upcoming New-Gen film, Molly and her video game alter ego: Grand Theft Auto V’s “Bikini Girl”

What I Learned About Busking, Entrepreneurship, and the Viola From Wendy Yates
By Steve Mariotti, Founder, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
Note: this interview with UNC alumna Wendy Yates was written for the Huffington Post. It has been reproduced here to provide easy, long-term access for our constituents. You can read the piece in its original context here. 
Busking — playing or improvising in the streets and other public places — is a fascinating and beautiful tradition that dates back to antiquity. So, it was only fitting that I got my own introduction to this art form on the breathtaking streets of Florence. My guide to busking was Wendy Yates, originally from Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. Despite an early childhood in extreme poverty before her family found better circumstances in Fort Collins, she earned a doctorate at Eastman, the top music school, in performance and literature with a speciality in the viola. Giving money, she pointed out, is a very personal act. People have to be very motivated, as every dollar, every coin, counts. I am so grateful that Wendy shared her insights on entrepreneurship and music with me.
SM: Wendy, tell us about why you play the viola.WY: The viola is an instrument I have always loved, and it is one of the most important string instruments in the orchestra. It is the middle sibling of the string section. It is the center of sound and the hardest voice to hear. Perhaps it is also the most important voice because if you can hear it, then you can discern all of the sounds in the orchestra. With the same strings as the cello while being an octave higher, it has its own unique, sultry voice. It has been played by some of the most famous composers — Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Britten, Dvorak and Hindemith, they all played it because of its beautiful sound.SM: Tell us about how you got to Florence.
WY: When I was in undergrad at the University of Northern Colorado, I was a leading viola player in our orchestra. One day, I looked over my shoulder, and there was one of the most handsome men I had ever seen playing the trumpet. He was Italian, fun, and had traveled all the way from Florence to study with the legendary teacher Bill Pfund. The minute I met this man, Pietro, I knew we had a special bond and I remember thinking, ‘This is a man I could marry.’ I arranged for us to sit together, moving the violas so that first trumpet and first viola could be side by side! We fell madly in love — music and mutual attraction brought us together with a great passion. When he had to return to Florence after we both earned our doctorate degrees, I was in love and moved with him. Our relationship produced two wonderful children — now ages six and eight. Now, I love Florence but it was not always easy. I knew from the beginning that I would love it but there was a painful side as well. I found it difficult to adjust and get work. I think that it is particularly difficult for women.SM: How did you integrate into Florence?
WY: I finally integrated by giving back to the community. I began to give free violin lessons to the local children. I became the violin lady instead of the American mother. The violin became my introduction to the children and their mothers, so we all became friends. Soon the international school here hired me as their violin teacher and their volleyball coach. Back in high school I had to make a choice between volleyball and music. I feel that my life has come full circle and now I am able to do three loves — entrepreneurship with my small business, volleyball with coaching, and music with my teaching.
SM: Tell our readers about playing in the streets of Florence.
WY: I first started to play when I was in Rochester, in the airport. Someone dared me to play for money so I opened my case and began to play my viola. Money rained into the case. I was 25 and without realizing it, I had started my own business. In ten minutes, I earned $20 without even asking. One thing I’ve noticed is that each person handles their money in their own special way: some wad it, some hand it carefully; and one time a woman folded a 50-euro bill with a note that read “I am a dreamer too.” Another time a young woman came to me, thinking I was Italian and said: “I just want to thank you as I just made the best love with my husband because of your music.” I glanced up and waved to the happy young husband.
So, after a long interview, I asked, “Could I see you do street performing? Could you show me how its done?”Wendy immediately agreed. On July 14, 2013, we set off on to the streets of Florence, looking for the ideal location. Each block was created for the human eye. Florence at night is beautiful beyond description. We walked the Duomo to find a good spot for her. It was too crowded, she said, and then she began explaining the eight things she looks for in a street location for her work:
1. It has to be away from windows, so she doesn’t disturb people.2. There has to be a lot of foot traffic but no car traffic. 3. There has to be minimal noise, so that her own sound carries — people are more likely to approach her if they hear her music before seeing her.4. Always play after dinner, not before, so people are not thinking about eating and feeling hungry.5. Never compete. If there are other musicians, actors, performers present, you must find another location.6. Always look your best with strong posture. People want to support someone with a professional appearance.7. Take the art seriously. When she plays, she is giving a concert. It is about playing her music and connecting with other human beings. It is not about the monetary gain, which enables her to create great art.Wendy Yates is a great street musician and a successful entrepreneur. Her lessons should be heeded by aspiring performers everywhere. I know I will see her again, and I wish her all of the luck in the world.
ZoomInfo
What I Learned About Busking, Entrepreneurship, and the Viola From Wendy Yates
By Steve Mariotti, Founder, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
Note: this interview with UNC alumna Wendy Yates was written for the Huffington Post. It has been reproduced here to provide easy, long-term access for our constituents. You can read the piece in its original context here. 
Busking — playing or improvising in the streets and other public places — is a fascinating and beautiful tradition that dates back to antiquity. So, it was only fitting that I got my own introduction to this art form on the breathtaking streets of Florence. My guide to busking was Wendy Yates, originally from Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. Despite an early childhood in extreme poverty before her family found better circumstances in Fort Collins, she earned a doctorate at Eastman, the top music school, in performance and literature with a speciality in the viola. Giving money, she pointed out, is a very personal act. People have to be very motivated, as every dollar, every coin, counts. I am so grateful that Wendy shared her insights on entrepreneurship and music with me.
SM: Wendy, tell us about why you play the viola.WY: The viola is an instrument I have always loved, and it is one of the most important string instruments in the orchestra. It is the middle sibling of the string section. It is the center of sound and the hardest voice to hear. Perhaps it is also the most important voice because if you can hear it, then you can discern all of the sounds in the orchestra. With the same strings as the cello while being an octave higher, it has its own unique, sultry voice. It has been played by some of the most famous composers — Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Britten, Dvorak and Hindemith, they all played it because of its beautiful sound.SM: Tell us about how you got to Florence.
WY: When I was in undergrad at the University of Northern Colorado, I was a leading viola player in our orchestra. One day, I looked over my shoulder, and there was one of the most handsome men I had ever seen playing the trumpet. He was Italian, fun, and had traveled all the way from Florence to study with the legendary teacher Bill Pfund. The minute I met this man, Pietro, I knew we had a special bond and I remember thinking, ‘This is a man I could marry.’ I arranged for us to sit together, moving the violas so that first trumpet and first viola could be side by side! We fell madly in love — music and mutual attraction brought us together with a great passion. When he had to return to Florence after we both earned our doctorate degrees, I was in love and moved with him. Our relationship produced two wonderful children — now ages six and eight. Now, I love Florence but it was not always easy. I knew from the beginning that I would love it but there was a painful side as well. I found it difficult to adjust and get work. I think that it is particularly difficult for women.SM: How did you integrate into Florence?
WY: I finally integrated by giving back to the community. I began to give free violin lessons to the local children. I became the violin lady instead of the American mother. The violin became my introduction to the children and their mothers, so we all became friends. Soon the international school here hired me as their violin teacher and their volleyball coach. Back in high school I had to make a choice between volleyball and music. I feel that my life has come full circle and now I am able to do three loves — entrepreneurship with my small business, volleyball with coaching, and music with my teaching.
SM: Tell our readers about playing in the streets of Florence.
WY: I first started to play when I was in Rochester, in the airport. Someone dared me to play for money so I opened my case and began to play my viola. Money rained into the case. I was 25 and without realizing it, I had started my own business. In ten minutes, I earned $20 without even asking. One thing I’ve noticed is that each person handles their money in their own special way: some wad it, some hand it carefully; and one time a woman folded a 50-euro bill with a note that read “I am a dreamer too.” Another time a young woman came to me, thinking I was Italian and said: “I just want to thank you as I just made the best love with my husband because of your music.” I glanced up and waved to the happy young husband.
So, after a long interview, I asked, “Could I see you do street performing? Could you show me how its done?”Wendy immediately agreed. On July 14, 2013, we set off on to the streets of Florence, looking for the ideal location. Each block was created for the human eye. Florence at night is beautiful beyond description. We walked the Duomo to find a good spot for her. It was too crowded, she said, and then she began explaining the eight things she looks for in a street location for her work:
1. It has to be away from windows, so she doesn’t disturb people.2. There has to be a lot of foot traffic but no car traffic. 3. There has to be minimal noise, so that her own sound carries — people are more likely to approach her if they hear her music before seeing her.4. Always play after dinner, not before, so people are not thinking about eating and feeling hungry.5. Never compete. If there are other musicians, actors, performers present, you must find another location.6. Always look your best with strong posture. People want to support someone with a professional appearance.7. Take the art seriously. When she plays, she is giving a concert. It is about playing her music and connecting with other human beings. It is not about the monetary gain, which enables her to create great art.Wendy Yates is a great street musician and a successful entrepreneur. Her lessons should be heeded by aspiring performers everywhere. I know I will see her again, and I wish her all of the luck in the world.
ZoomInfo

What I Learned About Busking, Entrepreneurship, and the Viola From Wendy Yates

By Steve Mariotti, Founder, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Note: this interview with UNC alumna Wendy Yates was written for the Huffington Post. It has been reproduced here to provide easy, long-term access for our constituents. You can read the piece in its original context here

Busking — playing or improvising in the streets and other public places — is a fascinating and beautiful tradition that dates back to antiquity. So, it was only fitting that I got my own introduction to this art form on the breathtaking streets of Florence. My guide to busking was Wendy Yates, originally from Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. Despite an early childhood in extreme poverty before her family found better circumstances in Fort Collins, she earned a doctorate at Eastman, the top music school, in performance and literature with a speciality in the viola. 

Giving money, she pointed out, is a very personal act. People have to be very motivated, as every dollar, every coin, counts. I am so grateful that Wendy shared her insights on entrepreneurship and music with me.

SM: Wendy, tell us about why you play the viola.

WY: The viola is an instrument I have always loved, and it is one of the most important string instruments in the orchestra. It is the middle sibling of the string section. It is the center of sound and the hardest voice to hear. Perhaps it is also the most important voice because if you can hear it, then you can discern all of the sounds in the orchestra. With the same strings as the cello while being an octave higher, it has its own unique, sultry voice. It has been played by some of the most famous composers — Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Britten, Dvorak and Hindemith, they all played it because of its beautiful sound.

SM: Tell us about how you got to Florence.

WY: When I was in undergrad at the University of Northern Colorado, I was a leading viola player in our orchestra. One day, I looked over my shoulder, and there was one of the most handsome men I had ever seen playing the trumpet. He was Italian, fun, and had traveled all the way from Florence to study with the legendary teacher Bill Pfund. The minute I met this man, Pietro, I knew we had a special bond and I remember thinking, ‘This is a man I could marry.’ I arranged for us to sit together, moving the violas so that first trumpet and first viola could be side by side! We fell madly in love — music and mutual attraction brought us together with a great passion. When he had to return to Florence after we both earned our doctorate degrees, I was in love and moved with him. Our relationship produced two wonderful children — now ages six and eight. Now, I love Florence but it was not always easy. I knew from the beginning that I would love it but there was a painful side as well. I found it difficult to adjust and get work. I think that it is particularly difficult for women.

SM: How did you integrate into Florence?

WY: I finally integrated by giving back to the community. I began to give free violin lessons to the local children. I became the violin lady instead of the American mother. The violin became my introduction to the children and their mothers, so we all became friends. Soon the international school here hired me as their violin teacher and their volleyball coach. Back in high school I had to make a choice between volleyball and music. I feel that my life has come full circle and now I am able to do three loves — entrepreneurship with my small business, volleyball with coaching, and music with my teaching.

SM: Tell our readers about playing in the streets of Florence.

WY: I first started to play when I was in Rochester, in the airport. Someone dared me to play for money so I opened my case and began to play my viola. Money rained into the case. I was 25 and without realizing it, I had started my own business. In ten minutes, I earned $20 without even asking. One thing I’ve noticed is that each person handles their money in their own special way: some wad it, some hand it carefully; and one time a woman folded a 50-euro bill with a note that read “I am a dreamer too.” Another time a young woman came to me, thinking I was Italian and said: “I just want to thank you as I just made the best love with my husband because of your music.” I glanced up and waved to the happy young husband.

So, after a long interview, I asked, “Could I see you do street performing? Could you show me how its done?”

Wendy immediately agreed. On July 14, 2013, we set off on to the streets of Florence, looking for the ideal location. Each block was created for the human eye. Florence at night is beautiful beyond description. We walked the Duomo to find a good spot for her. It was too crowded, she said, and then she began explaining the eight things she looks for in a street location for her work:

1. It has to be away from windows, so she doesn’t disturb people.
2. There has to be a lot of foot traffic but no car traffic. 
3. There has to be minimal noise, so that her own sound carries — people are more likely to approach her if they hear her music before seeing her.
4. Always play after dinner, not before, so people are not thinking about eating and feeling hungry.
5. Never compete. If there are other musicians, actors, performers present, you must find another location.
6. Always look your best with strong posture. People want to support someone with a professional appearance.
7. Take the art seriously. When she plays, she is giving a concert. It is about playing her music and connecting with other human beings. It is not about the monetary gain, which enables her to create great art.

Wendy Yates is a great street musician and a successful entrepreneur. Her lessons should be heeded by aspiring performers everywhere. I know I will see her again, and I wish her all of the luck in the world.

Summer band camp: there’s a special sense of community that can only be forged on those hot August afternoons spent out on the field practicing formations and reviewing the woodwind arrangements for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Today’s distinguished alumna, Dr. Karen Gregg (BA-97) has taken the camaraderie and communal support she experienced as a member of UNC’s much-beloved “Pride of the Rockies” Marching Band and parlayed it into an inspiring career in music education.
As the Director of Bands at Lyons Middle & Senior High School, Dr. Gregg has increased student participation by a staggering 300 percent. Her accomplishments have been recognized by Colorado’s 9News who honored her with their “Teacher Who Cares” award and author Ernest Pierce who interviewed her for the book Success Secrets of Super Teachers. Over the years, Dr. Gregg has proven her ability to help students discover their own passion and drive: many have gone on to study at UNC, ultimately becoming teachers themselves, others have worked with Hollywood composers. She recently spoke with us about her student experience and the pleasures of reuniting with her fellow grads at the UNC Bands’ Alumni Reunion Concert.
What first attracted you to UNC?
Well, I grew up in Greeley and I took music lessons with instructors at UNC as a high school student. When I was attending Greeley West they let you take certain college classes for free if similar courses weren’t offered at your institution. So I took the Freshman year of music theory at UNC as a high school student and that’s what really sold me on the quality of the program. I ended up studying under many of the same professors throughout my undergraduate experience and I still consider Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton to be great personal mentors.
In your eyes, what made the Pride of the Rockies such a unique and worthwhile institution?
There are several reasons and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the others. Under Dr. Mayne’s leadership, they had and continue to have a huge focus on excellence. When I was a member of the band, they didn’t allow for mediocrity with anything. I mean we rehearsed hard, we played hard, and we put on the best possible show every week. But there was also this incredible camaraderie and collegiality. You were part of a team just as much as any member of an athletic team would be, possibly more so. There was just this sense of community.  We lived, ate, and grew together. It was more than just an activity that we all participated in.
I saw that you served in the role of drum major. What were your responsibilities within the larger marching band structure? 
The drum major is really a kind of student-conductor, so they become really important when you’re rehearsing. Let’s say that all the kids are out on the field during practice, moving from one formation to the next. The drum major is the one who’s calling out commands, starting and stopping the band. Meanwhile the director, Dr. Mayne, is doing the technical stuff, evaluating what needs to be fixed next time, stuff like that.
I see. So it’s quite a big leadership position then.
It is a big leadership role. You have to learn a lot of music at first and gain a solid grasp of conducting. You also have to be an effective leader and take a very fluid approach to making changes. I mean, you can’t lead a group of 150 kids if they don’t respect you and trust that you know what you’re doing.
It sounds like there were certain aspects of your drum major role at UNC that would really help to prepare you for your current career in music education.
You know, I never considered that connection until I got into this job, being able to carry what I learned in my role as drum major into teaching. It’s true as a drum major in college and it’s especially true as a high school instructor: by no means does being a leader mean being a boss. They’re two very different things and you can’t be a boss in front of high school students or your college peers because they won’t buy it. You really have to be a leader with those kids because that’s what they want and that’s what they need. They don’t want somebody barking commands and telling them what to do.  They’re not going to respect that form of “leadership”.
What are some of the current challenges facing the field of music education? 
The reasons for this are complicated, but, generally speaking, kids today are involved in a broad range of activities and that can make it difficult to dedicate time toward extensive music study. When I went to school you either did band or you played a sport. I think it’s becoming more acceptable, thankfully, that kids can do both. That makes for well-rounded it kids, but it also makes for busier kids. There are also financial demands to consider, a lot of kids are working. On top of all that, colleges are demanding more of their applicants, so high school students are feeling pressured to take more foreign language and advanced math credits. I think squeezing four years of music into that is more difficult than it used to be.
Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, what are some of the most fun and exciting things about being involved in music education right now? 
The best part of this field is that, as a band director and a music teacher in general, it’s so easy to create and sustain great relationships with students. You get to know them on a more emotional level because, well, the fine arts are emotion-based. That is how it’s always been and that is how it will always be. Music allows you to forge a relationship with the kids that you might not get in another class.
One of the other things that’s really exciting in music education these days is that people are composing great music. We have this huge abundance of really good music that kids like to play, that conductors like to teach kids, and that is educationally sound. It’s great to be able to teach them legitimate concepts using music that they enjoy.
Switching topics a bit, how you have maintained ties with the UNC community throughout the years?
The schools in this area of northern Colorado have a lot of UNC grads teaching in them, so many of my colleagues are alumni. I think that principals and the folks on hiring committees know that people who have graduated from UNC are going to be well prepared for the demands of the current job market.
Also, I know it sounds trite, but social media has been a great tool for keeping in touch with peers. I’ve found it useful for both social and professional purposes. Facebook was the way that we spread word about the Alumni Band last summer.
Can you tell me a little more about that event and the kinds of activities it involved?
Oh, it was so much fun! The alumni band was so much more rewarding and fulfilling because these aren’t just people I went to school with, they’re the people that I chose to be around because we shared a mutual love for music and for the program. It was such a great event and the fact that Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton were able to pull all these people together and create such a wonderful occasion, we really owe it to them for that.
Are you inclined to guide your students back to UNC if it seems like they would be a good fit for the music program? 
Oh yes, I’ve sent many young people to UNC. I have three former students who are currently majoring in music there and I’ve had many kids go to UNC and play in the marching band or one of the concert bands even though they’re not a music major. If students have any inclination toward education at all, regardless of the subject they’re interested in, I really push UNC because it’s such a great school for that.
What kind of advice do you give those students who are considering music-related majors at UNC? 
Well, I always have them go spend a day there. I’ve worked in the past with Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton, matching them up with a student and having them shadow for a day so they can get the experience of being immersed in the classes. I also tell them about my continuing experiences with UNC. Letting them know how supported I have felt as a result of my ongoing association with the school is always a big selling point.
Even after graduation, I think it’s always a good idea to continue to use UNC as a resource. Being able to depend upon your professors and all the other social connections you made there is incredibly valuable. If I need advice on a topic that’s outside of my area of professional expertise, I know that there’s always someone I can call.
Many thanks to Dr. Gregg for taking the time to share her professional expertise with us! If you’re a Pride of the Rockies alum who is interested in reconnecting with the band through upcoming events, please contact the Program Coordinator at jennifer.beck@unco.edu. For those interested in learning more about our marching band, check out the  Pride of the Rockies homepage which includes an FAQ, recordings of the UNC Fight Song, and more. Their Facebook page is another great source of information. 
Finally, if you’d simply like to be entertained by the PotR and you don’t want to wait for football season, watch these performances of Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance" and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". The latter features an impressive world record attempt at the famed “zombie dance” (actual zombification begins around 4:10.) 
Do you have fond memories from one of our university’s many musical ensembles? Are there other groups you would like to see profiled? Tell us about them in the comments section!
(Photos from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Gregg as an undergraduate striking a pose during band practice, Karen Gregg today, a group photo of Karen with her band compatriots, Karen takes her students in the Lyons High School Band to Disney’s Magic Music Days.) 
ZoomInfo
Summer band camp: there’s a special sense of community that can only be forged on those hot August afternoons spent out on the field practicing formations and reviewing the woodwind arrangements for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Today’s distinguished alumna, Dr. Karen Gregg (BA-97) has taken the camaraderie and communal support she experienced as a member of UNC’s much-beloved “Pride of the Rockies” Marching Band and parlayed it into an inspiring career in music education.
As the Director of Bands at Lyons Middle & Senior High School, Dr. Gregg has increased student participation by a staggering 300 percent. Her accomplishments have been recognized by Colorado’s 9News who honored her with their “Teacher Who Cares” award and author Ernest Pierce who interviewed her for the book Success Secrets of Super Teachers. Over the years, Dr. Gregg has proven her ability to help students discover their own passion and drive: many have gone on to study at UNC, ultimately becoming teachers themselves, others have worked with Hollywood composers. She recently spoke with us about her student experience and the pleasures of reuniting with her fellow grads at the UNC Bands’ Alumni Reunion Concert.
What first attracted you to UNC?
Well, I grew up in Greeley and I took music lessons with instructors at UNC as a high school student. When I was attending Greeley West they let you take certain college classes for free if similar courses weren’t offered at your institution. So I took the Freshman year of music theory at UNC as a high school student and that’s what really sold me on the quality of the program. I ended up studying under many of the same professors throughout my undergraduate experience and I still consider Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton to be great personal mentors.
In your eyes, what made the Pride of the Rockies such a unique and worthwhile institution?
There are several reasons and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the others. Under Dr. Mayne’s leadership, they had and continue to have a huge focus on excellence. When I was a member of the band, they didn’t allow for mediocrity with anything. I mean we rehearsed hard, we played hard, and we put on the best possible show every week. But there was also this incredible camaraderie and collegiality. You were part of a team just as much as any member of an athletic team would be, possibly more so. There was just this sense of community.  We lived, ate, and grew together. It was more than just an activity that we all participated in.
I saw that you served in the role of drum major. What were your responsibilities within the larger marching band structure? 
The drum major is really a kind of student-conductor, so they become really important when you’re rehearsing. Let’s say that all the kids are out on the field during practice, moving from one formation to the next. The drum major is the one who’s calling out commands, starting and stopping the band. Meanwhile the director, Dr. Mayne, is doing the technical stuff, evaluating what needs to be fixed next time, stuff like that.
I see. So it’s quite a big leadership position then.
It is a big leadership role. You have to learn a lot of music at first and gain a solid grasp of conducting. You also have to be an effective leader and take a very fluid approach to making changes. I mean, you can’t lead a group of 150 kids if they don’t respect you and trust that you know what you’re doing.
It sounds like there were certain aspects of your drum major role at UNC that would really help to prepare you for your current career in music education.
You know, I never considered that connection until I got into this job, being able to carry what I learned in my role as drum major into teaching. It’s true as a drum major in college and it’s especially true as a high school instructor: by no means does being a leader mean being a boss. They’re two very different things and you can’t be a boss in front of high school students or your college peers because they won’t buy it. You really have to be a leader with those kids because that’s what they want and that’s what they need. They don’t want somebody barking commands and telling them what to do.  They’re not going to respect that form of “leadership”.
What are some of the current challenges facing the field of music education? 
The reasons for this are complicated, but, generally speaking, kids today are involved in a broad range of activities and that can make it difficult to dedicate time toward extensive music study. When I went to school you either did band or you played a sport. I think it’s becoming more acceptable, thankfully, that kids can do both. That makes for well-rounded it kids, but it also makes for busier kids. There are also financial demands to consider, a lot of kids are working. On top of all that, colleges are demanding more of their applicants, so high school students are feeling pressured to take more foreign language and advanced math credits. I think squeezing four years of music into that is more difficult than it used to be.
Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, what are some of the most fun and exciting things about being involved in music education right now? 
The best part of this field is that, as a band director and a music teacher in general, it’s so easy to create and sustain great relationships with students. You get to know them on a more emotional level because, well, the fine arts are emotion-based. That is how it’s always been and that is how it will always be. Music allows you to forge a relationship with the kids that you might not get in another class.
One of the other things that’s really exciting in music education these days is that people are composing great music. We have this huge abundance of really good music that kids like to play, that conductors like to teach kids, and that is educationally sound. It’s great to be able to teach them legitimate concepts using music that they enjoy.
Switching topics a bit, how you have maintained ties with the UNC community throughout the years?
The schools in this area of northern Colorado have a lot of UNC grads teaching in them, so many of my colleagues are alumni. I think that principals and the folks on hiring committees know that people who have graduated from UNC are going to be well prepared for the demands of the current job market.
Also, I know it sounds trite, but social media has been a great tool for keeping in touch with peers. I’ve found it useful for both social and professional purposes. Facebook was the way that we spread word about the Alumni Band last summer.
Can you tell me a little more about that event and the kinds of activities it involved?
Oh, it was so much fun! The alumni band was so much more rewarding and fulfilling because these aren’t just people I went to school with, they’re the people that I chose to be around because we shared a mutual love for music and for the program. It was such a great event and the fact that Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton were able to pull all these people together and create such a wonderful occasion, we really owe it to them for that.
Are you inclined to guide your students back to UNC if it seems like they would be a good fit for the music program? 
Oh yes, I’ve sent many young people to UNC. I have three former students who are currently majoring in music there and I’ve had many kids go to UNC and play in the marching band or one of the concert bands even though they’re not a music major. If students have any inclination toward education at all, regardless of the subject they’re interested in, I really push UNC because it’s such a great school for that.
What kind of advice do you give those students who are considering music-related majors at UNC? 
Well, I always have them go spend a day there. I’ve worked in the past with Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton, matching them up with a student and having them shadow for a day so they can get the experience of being immersed in the classes. I also tell them about my continuing experiences with UNC. Letting them know how supported I have felt as a result of my ongoing association with the school is always a big selling point.
Even after graduation, I think it’s always a good idea to continue to use UNC as a resource. Being able to depend upon your professors and all the other social connections you made there is incredibly valuable. If I need advice on a topic that’s outside of my area of professional expertise, I know that there’s always someone I can call.
Many thanks to Dr. Gregg for taking the time to share her professional expertise with us! If you’re a Pride of the Rockies alum who is interested in reconnecting with the band through upcoming events, please contact the Program Coordinator at jennifer.beck@unco.edu. For those interested in learning more about our marching band, check out the  Pride of the Rockies homepage which includes an FAQ, recordings of the UNC Fight Song, and more. Their Facebook page is another great source of information. 
Finally, if you’d simply like to be entertained by the PotR and you don’t want to wait for football season, watch these performances of Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance" and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". The latter features an impressive world record attempt at the famed “zombie dance” (actual zombification begins around 4:10.) 
Do you have fond memories from one of our university’s many musical ensembles? Are there other groups you would like to see profiled? Tell us about them in the comments section!
(Photos from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Gregg as an undergraduate striking a pose during band practice, Karen Gregg today, a group photo of Karen with her band compatriots, Karen takes her students in the Lyons High School Band to Disney’s Magic Music Days.) 
ZoomInfo
Summer band camp: there’s a special sense of community that can only be forged on those hot August afternoons spent out on the field practicing formations and reviewing the woodwind arrangements for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Today’s distinguished alumna, Dr. Karen Gregg (BA-97) has taken the camaraderie and communal support she experienced as a member of UNC’s much-beloved “Pride of the Rockies” Marching Band and parlayed it into an inspiring career in music education.
As the Director of Bands at Lyons Middle & Senior High School, Dr. Gregg has increased student participation by a staggering 300 percent. Her accomplishments have been recognized by Colorado’s 9News who honored her with their “Teacher Who Cares” award and author Ernest Pierce who interviewed her for the book Success Secrets of Super Teachers. Over the years, Dr. Gregg has proven her ability to help students discover their own passion and drive: many have gone on to study at UNC, ultimately becoming teachers themselves, others have worked with Hollywood composers. She recently spoke with us about her student experience and the pleasures of reuniting with her fellow grads at the UNC Bands’ Alumni Reunion Concert.
What first attracted you to UNC?
Well, I grew up in Greeley and I took music lessons with instructors at UNC as a high school student. When I was attending Greeley West they let you take certain college classes for free if similar courses weren’t offered at your institution. So I took the Freshman year of music theory at UNC as a high school student and that’s what really sold me on the quality of the program. I ended up studying under many of the same professors throughout my undergraduate experience and I still consider Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton to be great personal mentors.
In your eyes, what made the Pride of the Rockies such a unique and worthwhile institution?
There are several reasons and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the others. Under Dr. Mayne’s leadership, they had and continue to have a huge focus on excellence. When I was a member of the band, they didn’t allow for mediocrity with anything. I mean we rehearsed hard, we played hard, and we put on the best possible show every week. But there was also this incredible camaraderie and collegiality. You were part of a team just as much as any member of an athletic team would be, possibly more so. There was just this sense of community.  We lived, ate, and grew together. It was more than just an activity that we all participated in.
I saw that you served in the role of drum major. What were your responsibilities within the larger marching band structure? 
The drum major is really a kind of student-conductor, so they become really important when you’re rehearsing. Let’s say that all the kids are out on the field during practice, moving from one formation to the next. The drum major is the one who’s calling out commands, starting and stopping the band. Meanwhile the director, Dr. Mayne, is doing the technical stuff, evaluating what needs to be fixed next time, stuff like that.
I see. So it’s quite a big leadership position then.
It is a big leadership role. You have to learn a lot of music at first and gain a solid grasp of conducting. You also have to be an effective leader and take a very fluid approach to making changes. I mean, you can’t lead a group of 150 kids if they don’t respect you and trust that you know what you’re doing.
It sounds like there were certain aspects of your drum major role at UNC that would really help to prepare you for your current career in music education.
You know, I never considered that connection until I got into this job, being able to carry what I learned in my role as drum major into teaching. It’s true as a drum major in college and it’s especially true as a high school instructor: by no means does being a leader mean being a boss. They’re two very different things and you can’t be a boss in front of high school students or your college peers because they won’t buy it. You really have to be a leader with those kids because that’s what they want and that’s what they need. They don’t want somebody barking commands and telling them what to do.  They’re not going to respect that form of “leadership”.
What are some of the current challenges facing the field of music education? 
The reasons for this are complicated, but, generally speaking, kids today are involved in a broad range of activities and that can make it difficult to dedicate time toward extensive music study. When I went to school you either did band or you played a sport. I think it’s becoming more acceptable, thankfully, that kids can do both. That makes for well-rounded it kids, but it also makes for busier kids. There are also financial demands to consider, a lot of kids are working. On top of all that, colleges are demanding more of their applicants, so high school students are feeling pressured to take more foreign language and advanced math credits. I think squeezing four years of music into that is more difficult than it used to be.
Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, what are some of the most fun and exciting things about being involved in music education right now? 
The best part of this field is that, as a band director and a music teacher in general, it’s so easy to create and sustain great relationships with students. You get to know them on a more emotional level because, well, the fine arts are emotion-based. That is how it’s always been and that is how it will always be. Music allows you to forge a relationship with the kids that you might not get in another class.
One of the other things that’s really exciting in music education these days is that people are composing great music. We have this huge abundance of really good music that kids like to play, that conductors like to teach kids, and that is educationally sound. It’s great to be able to teach them legitimate concepts using music that they enjoy.
Switching topics a bit, how you have maintained ties with the UNC community throughout the years?
The schools in this area of northern Colorado have a lot of UNC grads teaching in them, so many of my colleagues are alumni. I think that principals and the folks on hiring committees know that people who have graduated from UNC are going to be well prepared for the demands of the current job market.
Also, I know it sounds trite, but social media has been a great tool for keeping in touch with peers. I’ve found it useful for both social and professional purposes. Facebook was the way that we spread word about the Alumni Band last summer.
Can you tell me a little more about that event and the kinds of activities it involved?
Oh, it was so much fun! The alumni band was so much more rewarding and fulfilling because these aren’t just people I went to school with, they’re the people that I chose to be around because we shared a mutual love for music and for the program. It was such a great event and the fact that Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton were able to pull all these people together and create such a wonderful occasion, we really owe it to them for that.
Are you inclined to guide your students back to UNC if it seems like they would be a good fit for the music program? 
Oh yes, I’ve sent many young people to UNC. I have three former students who are currently majoring in music there and I’ve had many kids go to UNC and play in the marching band or one of the concert bands even though they’re not a music major. If students have any inclination toward education at all, regardless of the subject they’re interested in, I really push UNC because it’s such a great school for that.
What kind of advice do you give those students who are considering music-related majors at UNC? 
Well, I always have them go spend a day there. I’ve worked in the past with Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton, matching them up with a student and having them shadow for a day so they can get the experience of being immersed in the classes. I also tell them about my continuing experiences with UNC. Letting them know how supported I have felt as a result of my ongoing association with the school is always a big selling point.
Even after graduation, I think it’s always a good idea to continue to use UNC as a resource. Being able to depend upon your professors and all the other social connections you made there is incredibly valuable. If I need advice on a topic that’s outside of my area of professional expertise, I know that there’s always someone I can call.
Many thanks to Dr. Gregg for taking the time to share her professional expertise with us! If you’re a Pride of the Rockies alum who is interested in reconnecting with the band through upcoming events, please contact the Program Coordinator at jennifer.beck@unco.edu. For those interested in learning more about our marching band, check out the  Pride of the Rockies homepage which includes an FAQ, recordings of the UNC Fight Song, and more. Their Facebook page is another great source of information. 
Finally, if you’d simply like to be entertained by the PotR and you don’t want to wait for football season, watch these performances of Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance" and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". The latter features an impressive world record attempt at the famed “zombie dance” (actual zombification begins around 4:10.) 
Do you have fond memories from one of our university’s many musical ensembles? Are there other groups you would like to see profiled? Tell us about them in the comments section!
(Photos from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Gregg as an undergraduate striking a pose during band practice, Karen Gregg today, a group photo of Karen with her band compatriots, Karen takes her students in the Lyons High School Band to Disney’s Magic Music Days.) 
ZoomInfo
Summer band camp: there’s a special sense of community that can only be forged on those hot August afternoons spent out on the field practicing formations and reviewing the woodwind arrangements for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Today’s distinguished alumna, Dr. Karen Gregg (BA-97) has taken the camaraderie and communal support she experienced as a member of UNC’s much-beloved “Pride of the Rockies” Marching Band and parlayed it into an inspiring career in music education.
As the Director of Bands at Lyons Middle & Senior High School, Dr. Gregg has increased student participation by a staggering 300 percent. Her accomplishments have been recognized by Colorado’s 9News who honored her with their “Teacher Who Cares” award and author Ernest Pierce who interviewed her for the book Success Secrets of Super Teachers. Over the years, Dr. Gregg has proven her ability to help students discover their own passion and drive: many have gone on to study at UNC, ultimately becoming teachers themselves, others have worked with Hollywood composers. She recently spoke with us about her student experience and the pleasures of reuniting with her fellow grads at the UNC Bands’ Alumni Reunion Concert.
What first attracted you to UNC?
Well, I grew up in Greeley and I took music lessons with instructors at UNC as a high school student. When I was attending Greeley West they let you take certain college classes for free if similar courses weren’t offered at your institution. So I took the Freshman year of music theory at UNC as a high school student and that’s what really sold me on the quality of the program. I ended up studying under many of the same professors throughout my undergraduate experience and I still consider Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton to be great personal mentors.
In your eyes, what made the Pride of the Rockies such a unique and worthwhile institution?
There are several reasons and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the others. Under Dr. Mayne’s leadership, they had and continue to have a huge focus on excellence. When I was a member of the band, they didn’t allow for mediocrity with anything. I mean we rehearsed hard, we played hard, and we put on the best possible show every week. But there was also this incredible camaraderie and collegiality. You were part of a team just as much as any member of an athletic team would be, possibly more so. There was just this sense of community.  We lived, ate, and grew together. It was more than just an activity that we all participated in.
I saw that you served in the role of drum major. What were your responsibilities within the larger marching band structure? 
The drum major is really a kind of student-conductor, so they become really important when you’re rehearsing. Let’s say that all the kids are out on the field during practice, moving from one formation to the next. The drum major is the one who’s calling out commands, starting and stopping the band. Meanwhile the director, Dr. Mayne, is doing the technical stuff, evaluating what needs to be fixed next time, stuff like that.
I see. So it’s quite a big leadership position then.
It is a big leadership role. You have to learn a lot of music at first and gain a solid grasp of conducting. You also have to be an effective leader and take a very fluid approach to making changes. I mean, you can’t lead a group of 150 kids if they don’t respect you and trust that you know what you’re doing.
It sounds like there were certain aspects of your drum major role at UNC that would really help to prepare you for your current career in music education.
You know, I never considered that connection until I got into this job, being able to carry what I learned in my role as drum major into teaching. It’s true as a drum major in college and it’s especially true as a high school instructor: by no means does being a leader mean being a boss. They’re two very different things and you can’t be a boss in front of high school students or your college peers because they won’t buy it. You really have to be a leader with those kids because that’s what they want and that’s what they need. They don’t want somebody barking commands and telling them what to do.  They’re not going to respect that form of “leadership”.
What are some of the current challenges facing the field of music education? 
The reasons for this are complicated, but, generally speaking, kids today are involved in a broad range of activities and that can make it difficult to dedicate time toward extensive music study. When I went to school you either did band or you played a sport. I think it’s becoming more acceptable, thankfully, that kids can do both. That makes for well-rounded it kids, but it also makes for busier kids. There are also financial demands to consider, a lot of kids are working. On top of all that, colleges are demanding more of their applicants, so high school students are feeling pressured to take more foreign language and advanced math credits. I think squeezing four years of music into that is more difficult than it used to be.
Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, what are some of the most fun and exciting things about being involved in music education right now? 
The best part of this field is that, as a band director and a music teacher in general, it’s so easy to create and sustain great relationships with students. You get to know them on a more emotional level because, well, the fine arts are emotion-based. That is how it’s always been and that is how it will always be. Music allows you to forge a relationship with the kids that you might not get in another class.
One of the other things that’s really exciting in music education these days is that people are composing great music. We have this huge abundance of really good music that kids like to play, that conductors like to teach kids, and that is educationally sound. It’s great to be able to teach them legitimate concepts using music that they enjoy.
Switching topics a bit, how you have maintained ties with the UNC community throughout the years?
The schools in this area of northern Colorado have a lot of UNC grads teaching in them, so many of my colleagues are alumni. I think that principals and the folks on hiring committees know that people who have graduated from UNC are going to be well prepared for the demands of the current job market.
Also, I know it sounds trite, but social media has been a great tool for keeping in touch with peers. I’ve found it useful for both social and professional purposes. Facebook was the way that we spread word about the Alumni Band last summer.
Can you tell me a little more about that event and the kinds of activities it involved?
Oh, it was so much fun! The alumni band was so much more rewarding and fulfilling because these aren’t just people I went to school with, they’re the people that I chose to be around because we shared a mutual love for music and for the program. It was such a great event and the fact that Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton were able to pull all these people together and create such a wonderful occasion, we really owe it to them for that.
Are you inclined to guide your students back to UNC if it seems like they would be a good fit for the music program? 
Oh yes, I’ve sent many young people to UNC. I have three former students who are currently majoring in music there and I’ve had many kids go to UNC and play in the marching band or one of the concert bands even though they’re not a music major. If students have any inclination toward education at all, regardless of the subject they’re interested in, I really push UNC because it’s such a great school for that.
What kind of advice do you give those students who are considering music-related majors at UNC? 
Well, I always have them go spend a day there. I’ve worked in the past with Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton, matching them up with a student and having them shadow for a day so they can get the experience of being immersed in the classes. I also tell them about my continuing experiences with UNC. Letting them know how supported I have felt as a result of my ongoing association with the school is always a big selling point.
Even after graduation, I think it’s always a good idea to continue to use UNC as a resource. Being able to depend upon your professors and all the other social connections you made there is incredibly valuable. If I need advice on a topic that’s outside of my area of professional expertise, I know that there’s always someone I can call.
Many thanks to Dr. Gregg for taking the time to share her professional expertise with us! If you’re a Pride of the Rockies alum who is interested in reconnecting with the band through upcoming events, please contact the Program Coordinator at jennifer.beck@unco.edu. For those interested in learning more about our marching band, check out the  Pride of the Rockies homepage which includes an FAQ, recordings of the UNC Fight Song, and more. Their Facebook page is another great source of information. 
Finally, if you’d simply like to be entertained by the PotR and you don’t want to wait for football season, watch these performances of Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance" and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". The latter features an impressive world record attempt at the famed “zombie dance” (actual zombification begins around 4:10.) 
Do you have fond memories from one of our university’s many musical ensembles? Are there other groups you would like to see profiled? Tell us about them in the comments section!
(Photos from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Gregg as an undergraduate striking a pose during band practice, Karen Gregg today, a group photo of Karen with her band compatriots, Karen takes her students in the Lyons High School Band to Disney’s Magic Music Days.) 
ZoomInfo

Summer band camp: there’s a special sense of community that can only be forged on those hot August afternoons spent out on the field practicing formations and reviewing the woodwind arrangements for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Today’s distinguished alumna, Dr. Karen Gregg (BA-97) has taken the camaraderie and communal support she experienced as a member of UNC’s much-beloved “Pride of the Rockies” Marching Band and parlayed it into an inspiring career in music education.

As the Director of Bands at Lyons Middle & Senior High School, Dr. Gregg has increased student participation by a staggering 300 percent. Her accomplishments have been recognized by Colorado’s 9News who honored her with their “Teacher Who Cares” award and author Ernest Pierce who interviewed her for the book Success Secrets of Super Teachers. Over the years, Dr. Gregg has proven her ability to help students discover their own passion and drive: many have gone on to study at UNC, ultimately becoming teachers themselves, others have worked with Hollywood composers. She recently spoke with us about her student experience and the pleasures of reuniting with her fellow grads at the UNC Bands’ Alumni Reunion Concert.

What first attracted you to UNC?

Well, I grew up in Greeley and I took music lessons with instructors at UNC as a high school student. When I was attending Greeley West they let you take certain college classes for free if similar courses weren’t offered at your institution. So I took the Freshman year of music theory at UNC as a high school student and that’s what really sold me on the quality of the program. I ended up studying under many of the same professors throughout my undergraduate experience and I still consider Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton to be great personal mentors.

In your eyes, what made the Pride of the Rockies such a unique and worthwhile institution?

There are several reasons and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the others. Under Dr. Mayne’s leadership, they had and continue to have a huge focus on excellence. When I was a member of the band, they didn’t allow for mediocrity with anything. I mean we rehearsed hard, we played hard, and we put on the best possible show every week. But there was also this incredible camaraderie and collegiality. You were part of a team just as much as any member of an athletic team would be, possibly more so. There was just this sense of community.  We lived, ate, and grew together. It was more than just an activity that we all participated in.

I saw that you served in the role of drum major. What were your responsibilities within the larger marching band structure?

The drum major is really a kind of student-conductor, so they become really important when you’re rehearsing. Let’s say that all the kids are out on the field during practice, moving from one formation to the next. The drum major is the one who’s calling out commands, starting and stopping the band. Meanwhile the director, Dr. Mayne, is doing the technical stuff, evaluating what needs to be fixed next time, stuff like that.

I see. So it’s quite a big leadership position then.

It is a big leadership role. You have to learn a lot of music at first and gain a solid grasp of conducting. You also have to be an effective leader and take a very fluid approach to making changes. I mean, you can’t lead a group of 150 kids if they don’t respect you and trust that you know what you’re doing.

It sounds like there were certain aspects of your drum major role at UNC that would really help to prepare you for your current career in music education.

You know, I never considered that connection until I got into this job, being able to carry what I learned in my role as drum major into teaching. It’s true as a drum major in college and it’s especially true as a high school instructor: by no means does being a leader mean being a boss. They’re two very different things and you can’t be a boss in front of high school students or your college peers because they won’t buy it. You really have to be a leader with those kids because that’s what they want and that’s what they need. They don’t want somebody barking commands and telling them what to do.  They’re not going to respect that form of “leadership”.

What are some of the current challenges facing the field of music education?

The reasons for this are complicated, but, generally speaking, kids today are involved in a broad range of activities and that can make it difficult to dedicate time toward extensive music study. When I went to school you either did band or you played a sport. I think it’s becoming more acceptable, thankfully, that kids can do both. That makes for well-rounded it kids, but it also makes for busier kids. There are also financial demands to consider, a lot of kids are working. On top of all that, colleges are demanding more of their applicants, so high school students are feeling pressured to take more foreign language and advanced math credits. I think squeezing four years of music into that is more difficult than it used to be.

Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, what are some of the most fun and exciting things about being involved in music education right now?

The best part of this field is that, as a band director and a music teacher in general, it’s so easy to create and sustain great relationships with students. You get to know them on a more emotional level because, well, the fine arts are emotion-based. That is how it’s always been and that is how it will always be. Music allows you to forge a relationship with the kids that you might not get in another class.

One of the other things that’s really exciting in music education these days is that people are composing great music. We have this huge abundance of really good music that kids like to play, that conductors like to teach kids, and that is educationally sound. It’s great to be able to teach them legitimate concepts using music that they enjoy.

Switching topics a bit, how you have maintained ties with the UNC community throughout the years?

The schools in this area of northern Colorado have a lot of UNC grads teaching in them, so many of my colleagues are alumni. I think that principals and the folks on hiring committees know that people who have graduated from UNC are going to be well prepared for the demands of the current job market.

Also, I know it sounds trite, but social media has been a great tool for keeping in touch with peers. I’ve found it useful for both social and professional purposes. Facebook was the way that we spread word about the Alumni Band last summer.

Can you tell me a little more about that event and the kinds of activities it involved?

Oh, it was so much fun! The alumni band was so much more rewarding and fulfilling because these aren’t just people I went to school with, they’re the people that I chose to be around because we shared a mutual love for music and for the program. It was such a great event and the fact that Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton were able to pull all these people together and create such a wonderful occasion, we really owe it to them for that.

Are you inclined to guide your students back to UNC if it seems like they would be a good fit for the music program?

Oh yes, I’ve sent many young people to UNC. I have three former students who are currently majoring in music there and I’ve had many kids go to UNC and play in the marching band or one of the concert bands even though they’re not a music major. If students have any inclination toward education at all, regardless of the subject they’re interested in, I really push UNC because it’s such a great school for that.

What kind of advice do you give those students who are considering music-related majors at UNC?

Well, I always have them go spend a day there. I’ve worked in the past with Dr. Mayne and Dr. Singleton, matching them up with a student and having them shadow for a day so they can get the experience of being immersed in the classes. I also tell them about my continuing experiences with UNC. Letting them know how supported I have felt as a result of my ongoing association with the school is always a big selling point.

Even after graduation, I think it’s always a good idea to continue to use UNC as a resource. Being able to depend upon your professors and all the other social connections you made there is incredibly valuable. If I need advice on a topic that’s outside of my area of professional expertise, I know that there’s always someone I can call.

Many thanks to Dr. Gregg for taking the time to share her professional expertise with us! If you’re a Pride of the Rockies alum who is interested in reconnecting with the band through upcoming events, please contact the Program Coordinator at jennifer.beck@unco.edu. For those interested in learning more about our marching band, check out the  Pride of the Rockies homepage which includes an FAQ, recordings of the UNC Fight Song, and more. Their Facebook page is another great source of information.

Finally, if you’d simply like to be entertained by the PotR and you don’t want to wait for football season, watch these performances of Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance" and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". The latter features an impressive world record attempt at the famed “zombie dance” (actual zombification begins around 4:10.) 

Do you have fond memories from one of our university’s many musical ensembles? Are there other groups you would like to see profiled? Tell us about them in the comments section!

(Photos from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Gregg as an undergraduate striking a pose during band practice, Karen Gregg today, a group photo of Karen with her band compatriots, Karen takes her students in the Lyons High School Band to Disney’s Magic Music Days.) 

47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo
47… a Dennis Morimoto InvitationalCelebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member
If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.
If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.
Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.
It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”
The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”
One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”
“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 
If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 
Eric BakkeStephanie BurchettClint Bush Allison DyerJim GipeDennis MorimotoJohn Tonai
Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!
ZoomInfo

47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational
Celebrating the Career of a UNC Alumnus and Faculty Member

If you talk to anyone who has been through UNC’s School of Art & Design in the past four or so decades, the name of Director Dennis Morimoto is bound to come up. Since receiving both his BA and MA from UNC in Industrial Education, he’s been serving our institution in a variety of capacities for the past 47 years. In that time, he’s made an indelible impact on the professional and personal lives of countless students.

If you talk to Dennis Morimoto himself, you’ll begin to notice that he rarely ever uses the word “I”. Instead, you’ll hear about all of the cutting edge equipment and facilities “we’ve” made available to students, the accomplishments of other faculty members, and the School of Art and Design’s recent national accreditation. “It’s like a big family here,” said Morimoto. “We believe in our students and it’s a very strong program. Not only are we at the strongest point that we have ever been as a school of art, the whole College of the Performing and Visual Arts is possibly at the best point that it has ever been in the history of the university.” With all of his enthusiasm and forward thinking, you’d hardly guess that this is a man on the verge of retirement.

Fortunately, the University of Northern Colorado Galleries have taken the lead in organizing an event to honor Dr. Morimoto’s many years of service.  “47… a Dennis Morimoto Invitational” is an exhibition of photography opening on June 7th in Guggenheim Hall’s Mariani Gallery. Apropos of an educator whose career has been so communally oriented, the show will feature the work of 15 photographers who studied under Dr. Morimoto alongside a selection of his own pieces. This free and open reception is sure to be a fantastic occasion for alumni to gather, reflect, and enjoy one another’s company. More details are available here.

It’s difficult even to begin to comprehend the cumulative impact of 47 years, let alone encapsulate it in a single occasion. However, as we spoke to Dr. Morimoto and several of his former students, that idea of family he referred to kept coming back up. Susan Nelson, who now serves as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the College of Performing & Visual Arts, tried to sum up the familial mixture of structure and support she’s felt working as Dr. Morimoto’s student and colleague over the years. “It’s because he cares. That sounds really trite, I know, but there’s some kind of hard to pin down quality about his approach to the work and to people that just makes it really obvious that he cares. He cares from the point of view that you darn well better get it right, but he’ll also do anything he can to help you get there.”

The educational philosophy expressed by Dr. Morimoto himself supports this notion that the practice of working successfully as an artist involves much more than just producing a polished portfolio of work. Development as an artist also means growing into a well-rounded, driven individual. “Studying here is not just about making art, producing a quality product. It’s about learning how to be a professional as well. We are producing professional artists.”

One of those professional artists is Stephanie Burchett, Marketing Specialist for the Graduate School and International Admissions at UNC. She says that the reason she kept coming back to study with Dr. Morimoto was that he provided the strong grounding in fundamental artistic skills which enable her to experiment thoughtfully. “I love photography, working in the dark room, mixing the chemicals, getting different results. It’s kind of magical. He helped me to understand and appreciate that magic.”

“Students are our best product,” said Dr. Morimoto near the end of our interview. Ultimately, whether or not he takes personal credit for all of the opportunities and guidance those students attribute to him is almost beside the point. The fact that the people who studied under him can fill an entire gallery with their professional work is an accomplishment that speaks for itself. 

If you’d like more information on Dennis Morimoto’s retirement, check out this article on page 4 of the new edition of Northern Vision Magazine. For those who are curious to see more work by the artists participating in the Dennis Morimoto Invitational, here is a list of links to some of their online portfolios: 

Eric Bakke
Stephanie Burchett
Clint Bush 
Allison Dyer
Jim Gipe
Dennis Morimoto
John Tonai

Do you have fond memories from UNC’s School of Art & Design or from classes you took with Dr. Morimoto? Share them with us in the comments section!

#BearsGive Featured Alumna: Jill LeGaultToday on the Bear Den we’re introducing a brand new feature to spotlight our alumni who generously give of their time and resources to make the UNC community a better place. It’s called #BearsGive and our first featured alumna is Young Alumni Council Vice President, Jill LeGault. As an undergraduate, Jill exemplified the qualities of leadership and teamwork as an active participant in at least 9 different campus organizations. Now, not only has she been instrumental in guiding the development of the Young Alumni Council, she continues to act as a collaborator and mentor in all of her professional roles. We spoke with Jill about her leadership philosophy and the joys of working collectively to accomplish a common goal.
What first got you interested in joining the Young Alumni Council and what do you enjoy most about your involvement?
As my final semester at UNC was coming to an end, I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague of mine on the Student Senate. We were talking about future activities and ways to bridge the gap between recent grads and the broader alumni base. We started to brainstorm different approaches to making that happen, but before we could get any initiatives up and running our time was up. So, when I saw a call for applicants to form the inaugural Young Alumni Council, I recognized that this was almost the exact same concept we had been discussing the year before. It’s been really exciting to see this council come together and to be a participant in something that will be part of UNC’s legacy for years to come.
What were your favorite parts of student life at UNC?
It’s hard for me to choose one specific part of my undergraduate experience that was my favorite. Generally speaking, I think that one of the best aspects of being a student at UNC is the freedom you have to get involved in many different areas. You don’t have to stick solely to one particular club or council. You can find a whole range of organizations to call home and there’s plenty of room to make an impact in any area you apply yourself to. I enjoyed how easy it was to be involved in those groups and I value the many lessons I learned while serving in my various leadership positions.
What are the most interesting and challenging aspects of what you do for a living?
I currently have two jobs and they’re quite different from one another. They both involve exciting challenges, though. 
I work for Amgen Pharmaceuticals in the Quality Control department. This job involves a lot of deadline work, detail-oriented tasks, regulation, and striving to make sure that each patient is taken care of every single time. I love working there. It changes daily, new situations come up and you have to be able to adapt. It challenges me to maintain a scientific way of thinking and to always strive to be better than the day before. The company also encourages you to learn so you can continue to reach your goals. 
I’m also a High School Swim Coach for Longmont High School in both the Women’s and Men’s program. I’ve been the Head Coach for 3 years now and no season has ever been the same. I have to try to mold these students into competitive athletes and well rounded-people over the course of a 3 month season. It’s incredibly difficult, but as a Coach I know I have to push myself and my student-athletes to be the best. As a program, we have to learn from each situation, whether it’s missing a state cut by 0.02 seconds or breaking a record that’s been standing for 10 years. 
What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
When I took over Longmont High School’s swim program three years ago it was in need of new approach and both teams had a lot of growing to do. Walking into that first season, my primary focus was the progress and growth of my swimmers rather than racking up wins. By the second year, we had more training under our caps so we were able to push the athletes a little more and make a name for ourselves as fierce competitors. That year, one of my divers went to 4A state and took 5th. She ended up signing to UNC and I am very proud to say that she just finished her first season diving for the Bears.
What makes me really proud is being able to say that I’m helping to shape well-rounded student-athletes. My girls have gained a reputation for being some of the most respectful, encouraging, and helpful individuals on deck. My happiest moments are when they don’t know I’m listening and I hear them encouraging their younger teammates to push harder and believe in themselves. My guys are also extremely dedicated. Fast swims and great attitudes make for a great season, but when I finally see them grasp what it means to be a leader and someone who can strategize with the big picture in mind, that makes me happy. That’s when I know that they’ve understood my coaching philosophy and what it means to be a member of a team. 
What skills do you need to work in your field and how did UNC help to equip you with those skills?
I have to be able to work effectively as a member of an organization, whether I’m a member of a team or its leader. I also have to be able to play fair. Given my profession, I rely heavily on my Biology degree on a daily basis, but all of my leadership roles at UNC have helped to make me successful outside of the classroom. 
Do you have any general advice to offer young alumni who are interested in working in your professional field? How about for those who want to stay connected to the university through service and mentorship?
I would say to network with professors and professionals in the fields you want to go into. You never know who someone is going to be connected to! Also, always be teachable. If you can’t learn you won’t last long.
If you want to stay connected to UNC through service, email the necessary people to see what the process is for getting involved and really look at what that involvement takes so you can be fair to your time and the time of the organization. 
We’d like to thank Jill for all that she’s done to enrich the UNC community and for taking the time to share her perspective with her fellow Bears. If you’d like to learn more about the Young Alumni Council and their recent activities, check out their official organization page and this report on their inaugural conference. If you’re interested in exploring other alumni volunteer opportunities, you can contact the AA here. 
Were you deeply involved with campus organizations as a student at UNC? Do you know of a philanthropic alum who deserves a #BearsGive spotlight? Tell us about it via email or in the comments section!(Photos counterclockwise from top: Jill with fellow YAC Executive Committee members Matt Brinton and Lenina Olivas, Jill at the signing ceremony of former Longmont High student and current UNC diver Haley Schneider, Jill proudly displaying her UNC diploma following the 2010 Commencement Ceremony) 
ZoomInfo
#BearsGive Featured Alumna: Jill LeGaultToday on the Bear Den we’re introducing a brand new feature to spotlight our alumni who generously give of their time and resources to make the UNC community a better place. It’s called #BearsGive and our first featured alumna is Young Alumni Council Vice President, Jill LeGault. As an undergraduate, Jill exemplified the qualities of leadership and teamwork as an active participant in at least 9 different campus organizations. Now, not only has she been instrumental in guiding the development of the Young Alumni Council, she continues to act as a collaborator and mentor in all of her professional roles. We spoke with Jill about her leadership philosophy and the joys of working collectively to accomplish a common goal.
What first got you interested in joining the Young Alumni Council and what do you enjoy most about your involvement?
As my final semester at UNC was coming to an end, I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague of mine on the Student Senate. We were talking about future activities and ways to bridge the gap between recent grads and the broader alumni base. We started to brainstorm different approaches to making that happen, but before we could get any initiatives up and running our time was up. So, when I saw a call for applicants to form the inaugural Young Alumni Council, I recognized that this was almost the exact same concept we had been discussing the year before. It’s been really exciting to see this council come together and to be a participant in something that will be part of UNC’s legacy for years to come.
What were your favorite parts of student life at UNC?
It’s hard for me to choose one specific part of my undergraduate experience that was my favorite. Generally speaking, I think that one of the best aspects of being a student at UNC is the freedom you have to get involved in many different areas. You don’t have to stick solely to one particular club or council. You can find a whole range of organizations to call home and there’s plenty of room to make an impact in any area you apply yourself to. I enjoyed how easy it was to be involved in those groups and I value the many lessons I learned while serving in my various leadership positions.
What are the most interesting and challenging aspects of what you do for a living?
I currently have two jobs and they’re quite different from one another. They both involve exciting challenges, though. 
I work for Amgen Pharmaceuticals in the Quality Control department. This job involves a lot of deadline work, detail-oriented tasks, regulation, and striving to make sure that each patient is taken care of every single time. I love working there. It changes daily, new situations come up and you have to be able to adapt. It challenges me to maintain a scientific way of thinking and to always strive to be better than the day before. The company also encourages you to learn so you can continue to reach your goals. 
I’m also a High School Swim Coach for Longmont High School in both the Women’s and Men’s program. I’ve been the Head Coach for 3 years now and no season has ever been the same. I have to try to mold these students into competitive athletes and well rounded-people over the course of a 3 month season. It’s incredibly difficult, but as a Coach I know I have to push myself and my student-athletes to be the best. As a program, we have to learn from each situation, whether it’s missing a state cut by 0.02 seconds or breaking a record that’s been standing for 10 years. 
What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
When I took over Longmont High School’s swim program three years ago it was in need of new approach and both teams had a lot of growing to do. Walking into that first season, my primary focus was the progress and growth of my swimmers rather than racking up wins. By the second year, we had more training under our caps so we were able to push the athletes a little more and make a name for ourselves as fierce competitors. That year, one of my divers went to 4A state and took 5th. She ended up signing to UNC and I am very proud to say that she just finished her first season diving for the Bears.
What makes me really proud is being able to say that I’m helping to shape well-rounded student-athletes. My girls have gained a reputation for being some of the most respectful, encouraging, and helpful individuals on deck. My happiest moments are when they don’t know I’m listening and I hear them encouraging their younger teammates to push harder and believe in themselves. My guys are also extremely dedicated. Fast swims and great attitudes make for a great season, but when I finally see them grasp what it means to be a leader and someone who can strategize with the big picture in mind, that makes me happy. That’s when I know that they’ve understood my coaching philosophy and what it means to be a member of a team. 
What skills do you need to work in your field and how did UNC help to equip you with those skills?
I have to be able to work effectively as a member of an organization, whether I’m a member of a team or its leader. I also have to be able to play fair. Given my profession, I rely heavily on my Biology degree on a daily basis, but all of my leadership roles at UNC have helped to make me successful outside of the classroom. 
Do you have any general advice to offer young alumni who are interested in working in your professional field? How about for those who want to stay connected to the university through service and mentorship?
I would say to network with professors and professionals in the fields you want to go into. You never know who someone is going to be connected to! Also, always be teachable. If you can’t learn you won’t last long.
If you want to stay connected to UNC through service, email the necessary people to see what the process is for getting involved and really look at what that involvement takes so you can be fair to your time and the time of the organization. 
We’d like to thank Jill for all that she’s done to enrich the UNC community and for taking the time to share her perspective with her fellow Bears. If you’d like to learn more about the Young Alumni Council and their recent activities, check out their official organization page and this report on their inaugural conference. If you’re interested in exploring other alumni volunteer opportunities, you can contact the AA here. 
Were you deeply involved with campus organizations as a student at UNC? Do you know of a philanthropic alum who deserves a #BearsGive spotlight? Tell us about it via email or in the comments section!(Photos counterclockwise from top: Jill with fellow YAC Executive Committee members Matt Brinton and Lenina Olivas, Jill at the signing ceremony of former Longmont High student and current UNC diver Haley Schneider, Jill proudly displaying her UNC diploma following the 2010 Commencement Ceremony) 
ZoomInfo
#BearsGive Featured Alumna: Jill LeGaultToday on the Bear Den we’re introducing a brand new feature to spotlight our alumni who generously give of their time and resources to make the UNC community a better place. It’s called #BearsGive and our first featured alumna is Young Alumni Council Vice President, Jill LeGault. As an undergraduate, Jill exemplified the qualities of leadership and teamwork as an active participant in at least 9 different campus organizations. Now, not only has she been instrumental in guiding the development of the Young Alumni Council, she continues to act as a collaborator and mentor in all of her professional roles. We spoke with Jill about her leadership philosophy and the joys of working collectively to accomplish a common goal.
What first got you interested in joining the Young Alumni Council and what do you enjoy most about your involvement?
As my final semester at UNC was coming to an end, I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague of mine on the Student Senate. We were talking about future activities and ways to bridge the gap between recent grads and the broader alumni base. We started to brainstorm different approaches to making that happen, but before we could get any initiatives up and running our time was up. So, when I saw a call for applicants to form the inaugural Young Alumni Council, I recognized that this was almost the exact same concept we had been discussing the year before. It’s been really exciting to see this council come together and to be a participant in something that will be part of UNC’s legacy for years to come.
What were your favorite parts of student life at UNC?
It’s hard for me to choose one specific part of my undergraduate experience that was my favorite. Generally speaking, I think that one of the best aspects of being a student at UNC is the freedom you have to get involved in many different areas. You don’t have to stick solely to one particular club or council. You can find a whole range of organizations to call home and there’s plenty of room to make an impact in any area you apply yourself to. I enjoyed how easy it was to be involved in those groups and I value the many lessons I learned while serving in my various leadership positions.
What are the most interesting and challenging aspects of what you do for a living?
I currently have two jobs and they’re quite different from one another. They both involve exciting challenges, though. 
I work for Amgen Pharmaceuticals in the Quality Control department. This job involves a lot of deadline work, detail-oriented tasks, regulation, and striving to make sure that each patient is taken care of every single time. I love working there. It changes daily, new situations come up and you have to be able to adapt. It challenges me to maintain a scientific way of thinking and to always strive to be better than the day before. The company also encourages you to learn so you can continue to reach your goals. 
I’m also a High School Swim Coach for Longmont High School in both the Women’s and Men’s program. I’ve been the Head Coach for 3 years now and no season has ever been the same. I have to try to mold these students into competitive athletes and well rounded-people over the course of a 3 month season. It’s incredibly difficult, but as a Coach I know I have to push myself and my student-athletes to be the best. As a program, we have to learn from each situation, whether it’s missing a state cut by 0.02 seconds or breaking a record that’s been standing for 10 years. 
What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
When I took over Longmont High School’s swim program three years ago it was in need of new approach and both teams had a lot of growing to do. Walking into that first season, my primary focus was the progress and growth of my swimmers rather than racking up wins. By the second year, we had more training under our caps so we were able to push the athletes a little more and make a name for ourselves as fierce competitors. That year, one of my divers went to 4A state and took 5th. She ended up signing to UNC and I am very proud to say that she just finished her first season diving for the Bears.
What makes me really proud is being able to say that I’m helping to shape well-rounded student-athletes. My girls have gained a reputation for being some of the most respectful, encouraging, and helpful individuals on deck. My happiest moments are when they don’t know I’m listening and I hear them encouraging their younger teammates to push harder and believe in themselves. My guys are also extremely dedicated. Fast swims and great attitudes make for a great season, but when I finally see them grasp what it means to be a leader and someone who can strategize with the big picture in mind, that makes me happy. That’s when I know that they’ve understood my coaching philosophy and what it means to be a member of a team. 
What skills do you need to work in your field and how did UNC help to equip you with those skills?
I have to be able to work effectively as a member of an organization, whether I’m a member of a team or its leader. I also have to be able to play fair. Given my profession, I rely heavily on my Biology degree on a daily basis, but all of my leadership roles at UNC have helped to make me successful outside of the classroom. 
Do you have any general advice to offer young alumni who are interested in working in your professional field? How about for those who want to stay connected to the university through service and mentorship?
I would say to network with professors and professionals in the fields you want to go into. You never know who someone is going to be connected to! Also, always be teachable. If you can’t learn you won’t last long.
If you want to stay connected to UNC through service, email the necessary people to see what the process is for getting involved and really look at what that involvement takes so you can be fair to your time and the time of the organization. 
We’d like to thank Jill for all that she’s done to enrich the UNC community and for taking the time to share her perspective with her fellow Bears. If you’d like to learn more about the Young Alumni Council and their recent activities, check out their official organization page and this report on their inaugural conference. If you’re interested in exploring other alumni volunteer opportunities, you can contact the AA here. 
Were you deeply involved with campus organizations as a student at UNC? Do you know of a philanthropic alum who deserves a #BearsGive spotlight? Tell us about it via email or in the comments section!(Photos counterclockwise from top: Jill with fellow YAC Executive Committee members Matt Brinton and Lenina Olivas, Jill at the signing ceremony of former Longmont High student and current UNC diver Haley Schneider, Jill proudly displaying her UNC diploma following the 2010 Commencement Ceremony) 
ZoomInfo

#BearsGive Featured Alumna: Jill LeGault

Today on the Bear Den we’re introducing a brand new feature to spotlight our alumni who generously give of their time and resources to make the UNC community a better place. It’s called #BearsGive and our first featured alumna is Young Alumni Council Vice President, Jill LeGault. As an undergraduate, Jill exemplified the qualities of leadership and teamwork as an active participant in at least 9 different campus organizations. Now, not only has she been instrumental in guiding the development of the Young Alumni Council, she continues to act as a collaborator and mentor in all of her professional roles. We spoke with Jill about her leadership philosophy and the joys of working collectively to accomplish a common goal.

What first got you interested in joining the Young Alumni Council and what do you enjoy most about your involvement?

As my final semester at UNC was coming to an end, I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague of mine on the Student Senate. We were talking about future activities and ways to bridge the gap between recent grads and the broader alumni base. We started to brainstorm different approaches to making that happen, but before we could get any initiatives up and running our time was up. So, when I saw a call for applicants to form the inaugural Young Alumni Council, I recognized that this was almost the exact same concept we had been discussing the year before. It’s been really exciting to see this council come together and to be a participant in something that will be part of UNC’s legacy for years to come.

What were your favorite parts of student life at UNC?

It’s hard for me to choose one specific part of my undergraduate experience that was my favorite. Generally speaking, I think that one of the best aspects of being a student at UNC is the freedom you have to get involved in many different areas. You don’t have to stick solely to one particular club or council. You can find a whole range of organizations to call home and there’s plenty of room to make an impact in any area you apply yourself to. I enjoyed how easy it was to be involved in those groups and I value the many lessons I learned while serving in my various leadership positions.

What are the most interesting and challenging aspects of what you do for a living?

I currently have two jobs and they’re quite different from one another. They both involve exciting challenges, though.

I work for Amgen Pharmaceuticals in the Quality Control department. This job involves a lot of deadline work, detail-oriented tasks, regulation, and striving to make sure that each patient is taken care of every single time. I love working there. It changes daily, new situations come up and you have to be able to adapt. It challenges me to maintain a scientific way of thinking and to always strive to be better than the day before. The company also encourages you to learn so you can continue to reach your goals.

I’m also a High School Swim Coach for Longmont High School in both the Women’s and Men’s program. I’ve been the Head Coach for 3 years now and no season has ever been the same. I have to try to mold these students into competitive athletes and well rounded-people over the course of a 3 month season. It’s incredibly difficult, but as a Coach I know I have to push myself and my student-athletes to be the best. As a program, we have to learn from each situation, whether it’s missing a state cut by 0.02 seconds or breaking a record that’s been standing for 10 years. 

What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

When I took over Longmont High School’s swim program three years ago it was in need of new approach and both teams had a lot of growing to do. Walking into that first season, my primary focus was the progress and growth of my swimmers rather than racking up wins. By the second year, we had more training under our caps so we were able to push the athletes a little more and make a name for ourselves as fierce competitors. That year, one of my divers went to 4A state and took 5th. She ended up signing to UNC and I am very proud to say that she just finished her first season diving for the Bears.

What makes me really proud is being able to say that I’m helping to shape well-rounded student-athletes. My girls have gained a reputation for being some of the most respectful, encouraging, and helpful individuals on deck. My happiest moments are when they don’t know I’m listening and I hear them encouraging their younger teammates to push harder and believe in themselves. My guys are also extremely dedicated. Fast swims and great attitudes make for a great season, but when I finally see them grasp what it means to be a leader and someone who can strategize with the big picture in mind, that makes me happy. That’s when I know that they’ve understood my coaching philosophy and what it means to be a member of a team. 

What skills do you need to work in your field and how did UNC help to equip you with those skills?

I have to be able to work effectively as a member of an organization, whether I’m a member of a team or its leader. I also have to be able to play fair. Given my profession, I rely heavily on my Biology degree on a daily basis, but all of my leadership roles at UNC have helped to make me successful outside of the classroom. 

Do you have any general advice to offer young alumni who are interested in working in your professional field? How about for those who want to stay connected to the university through service and mentorship?

I would say to network with professors and professionals in the fields you want to go into. You never know who someone is going to be connected to! Also, always be teachable. If you can’t learn you won’t last long.

If you want to stay connected to UNC through service, email the necessary people to see what the process is for getting involved and really look at what that involvement takes so you can be fair to your time and the time of the organization. 

We’d like to thank Jill for all that she’s done to enrich the UNC community and for taking the time to share her perspective with her fellow Bears. If you’d like to learn more about the Young Alumni Council and their recent activities, check out their official organization page and this report on their inaugural conference. If you’re interested in exploring other alumni volunteer opportunities, you can contact the AA here

Were you deeply involved with campus organizations as a student at UNC? Do you know of a philanthropic alum who deserves a #BearsGive spotlight? Tell us about it via email or in the comments section!

(Photos counterclockwise from top: Jill with fellow YAC Executive Committee members Matt Brinton and Lenina Olivas, Jill at the signing ceremony of former Longmont High student and current UNC diver Haley Schneider, Jill proudly displaying her UNC diploma following the 2010 Commencement Ceremony)