The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chancellor Scholarship is a prestigious award given to a selected number of incoming freshmen which covers the cost of tuition and fees. The scholarship is renewable and is focused on leadership, academics and community involvement opportunities. The current Chancellor Scholars represent all three colleges, with a quarter of the students being involved in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts. Seniors Devon Lee, Isabelle Sander, Jenny Spence and junior Guin Diehl all expressed how ecstatic they are to have continued to be Chancellor Scholars throughout their collegiate career, while also being able to participate in activities outside of their respective majors. All four students are engaged in the areas of music and theatre.
“As an animal science major with a pre-veterinary emphasis, I have a lot of science and agriculture-related classes, which is entirely different from music,” said Spence, who is from Sussex, Wisconsin, and a member of the Marching Pioneers. “It engages me differently. I’m not thinking the same as when I’m in physics or math. I’m thinking in a creative space.”
Lee is an electrical engineering major from Madison, Wisconsin, and a fellow Marching Pioneer. He also plays tuba in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, horn in the Symphony Band, trombone in the Pioneer Jazz Orchestra and violin in the Orchestra. Outside of being in band, Lee sings tenor in the Chamber Choir.
“Engineers are problem solvers, but I use other creativity in the arts,” he said. “I care about details, and music is so detailed. When we rehearse, we can play a song five times in a row, but we are changing minute details to make it sound the best.”
Participating in performing arts offers Sander the opportunity to work with students from across the campus community. Sander, who is a fine arts-theatre and English-professional writing double major, from Cuba City, Wisconsin, explains the importance of learning from her peers.
“I have been in multiple productions where there have only been three theatre majors in the production. It’s a unique experience to be exposed to so many different majors in one collective piece of art,” she said. “We have tons of engineering, biology, forensic investigation and criminal justice majors. Everyone brings their own vision, views and personal values. It creates a beautiful picture when we all come together and learn from one another. We have to collaborate to make the art feel real. It impacts the audience so much more, because we have such diverse groups in the programs.”
Diehl echoes that sentiment by explaining how much talent there is on campus. She has been involved in six different ensembles, including the Marching Pioneers, two symphonic bands and jazz band.
“Some of our best performers have been non-majors and non-minors,” said Diehl, a music education major from New Windsor, Illinois. “We love having their talents and ideas with us and their abilities to help us be better as a campus with the arts.”
All four students agree the opportunity to perform is rewarding and acknowledged how they are becoming stronger leaders. They said it’s important for students to immerse themselves in different activities and to gain a variety of skills to take into their professional paths.
“I believe my work in the arts is helping me with my professional writing. I have gained characteristics and skills in public speaking and empathizing with others,” said Sander. “In the theatre department, we cover the motto ‘risk, fail, risk, again’ that can apply to every avenue of life.”
Spence added, “I need that part of the day where I can focus on music. In general, being well-rounded is important – it’s important to me to continue doing things I enjoy and to have an escape.”
Throughout the school year, the Department of Performing and Visual Arts will hold a variety of productions showcasing the talents of students. Lee calls it gratifying to put on a concert with all the ensemble members.
“There are music majors of course, but there are many different backgrounds of people,” he said. “We all have the same goal in mind to blend our sounds and make something greater with all our parts.”
“When you are making really great music with a group of people, you can feel it in your heart and your soul,” said Diehl. “The way you sound, the way you fit in an ensemble, to play challenging music it feels super magical; I love it.”
To learn more about the programs in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts, visit www.uwplatt.edu/department/performing-visual-arts.