Hometown: Newington, Conn.
Major: Music Education
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Science, Music Education
Internships: Student-teaching at two different placements: first, in Farmington at two different elementary schools where I had a fabulous time learning from my cooperative teacher and getting familiar with Farmington’s very unique Suzuki-based string program. My second placement was in Norwalk at a middle school and elementary school. Having the opportunity to teach string lessons and direct large orchestral ensembles on a daily basis was very educational and enlightening. I learned so much from the hands-on experience and was able to get a feel for the career I am about to begin. I was very lucky to be able to work with such knowledgeable and experienced teachers. In the semesters leading up to my student teaching, the Music Education program at WestConn gave me many opportunities to observe teachers in the field as well as find teachers to complete my student teaching with.
Activities: Newman Club (president and vice president), Newman Club Music Ministry, Chamber Music Club (treasurer, vice president, and co-creator), MENC/NAfME (National Association for Music Education), Honors Student Organization, volunteer at the Salvation Army in Danbury (teaching and leading activities at their Friday “Supper Club”), Midnight Run (bringing food and supplies to the homeless of New York City), WCSU Orchestra, WCSU Opera Ensemble, WCSU String Quartet, Meriden Pops Orchestra, St. Elizabeth Seton Music Ministry, work part-time at Sharps & Flats in Ridgefield, CT. Sharps & Flats is a music studio where I teach violin and viola lessons. Working there has given me an opportunity to grow as a teacher and try out the techniques I learned at WestConn. It has also given me great experience working with children on a regular basis. During the summer I work as a camp counselor. I have been lucky, in that due to the WCSU Merit Scholarship, I have not needed to work full-time as a student. This has allowed me to focus on my studies, but to also pick work opportunities that will help me gain experience for my future career, rather than just pay the bills.
Honors and Awards: Dean’s List, 3.80 GPA (graduating Magna Cum Laude), WCSU Merit Scholarship, 2013 Fulbright Scholarship recipient, nominated for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Katherine Marsan has wanted to be a music teacher for as long as she can remember. "Music has played a very important role in my life," she says. "It has gotten me through some tough times and has motivated me to always do my best. Music brings joy to my life, helps me to connect with other people and provides an outlet for my emotions. I also really enjoy working with children. It amazes me how much adults can learn from kids if we pay attention. I am in awe of their sense of curiosity about the world and the way they are sponges for information. I decided to major in music education so that I can share my passion for music with future generations."
When looking at college options, Marsan's father encouraged her to investigate Western, and she was impressed. "The music department was extremely welcoming and I felt that I could fit in here," she says. "When I met with the violin professor, I felt like he had already taken a personal interest in me and would do whatever it would take to help me succeed. Making the decision about where to go to college is not an easy one, but I definitely feel like I made the right choice."
There are two people that stick out to me as mentors during my time at WestConn. The first is Professor Eric Lewis, my violin teacher. Professor Lewis always made time to meet with me when I needed guidance. Whether it was a little extra lesson time, help with my academics or advice on a life problem, he has always been there for me. In my freshman year, he went above and beyond to meet with me one-on-one and teach me Music Theory. He did this not because I needed extra help or even because I was a student in his class, but because he saw the enthusiasm I had for the subject. I couldn’t wait to learn more and he challenged me with material that went beyond the classes I was taking. The other person who became a mentor to me is Dr. Chris Kukk. Dr. Kukk is the director of the Honors Program and I had him as a professor in “Honors 100: The Nature of Inquiry” and “The Wunderkammer of Knowledge,” a class in which we had seven professors at the same time! Dr. Kukk has opened countless doors for me during my time at WestConn. I have spent many an hour sitting in his office talking about all sorts of exciting opportunities. The most recent project that Dr. Kukk has helped me with is my application for a Fulbright Scholarship. This scholarship will allow me to study abroad in Estonia for a year, doing research on folk music education, all expenses paid. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I would not have even known about it if Dr. Kukk had not encouraged me to go for it. He spent a lot of time with me and the other Fulbright applicants, even over the summer, helping us to prepare our projects. Dr. Kukk is always so positive and has shown me that I can do more than I thought I was capable of. He is definitely someone I look up to and inspires me to be a better person.
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Marsan says, "One of my most memorable experiences at WestConn was the Newman Club mission trip to Jamaica. On three separate occasions, I had the opportunity to travel to the island of Jamaica at very low cost to me (thanks to SGA!). Each trip was a little more than a week. While in Jamaica, my eyes were opened to how other people in the world live. I witnessed extreme poverty, but also met some of the most beautiful and generous people I have met. During our time in Jamaica, we tutored children, taught in the schools, visited with the sick and abandoned elderly, and painted and cleaned up various buildings. One place we visited was the preschool in Riverton, Jamaica. Riverton is the poorest area of Jamaica. It is an active dump that people live on in the little shacks they build out of scrap metal. Teaching and playing with the kids here is something I will never forget and will always be close to my heart. While these trips were certainly not vacations, we did have a chance to experience the natural beauty of Jamaica and spend a little time on the beach as well."
After graduation, Marsan plans to spend some time abroad. The recipient of a 2013 Fulbright Scholarship, Marsan will be "living in Estonia, speaking the language, immersing myself in the culture and researching their traditional fiddle music while working with the faculty at the Viljandi Culture Academy at the University of Tartu. I have been accepted and received a scholarship to an intensive Estonian language program that I will attend this summer at the University of Pittsburgh. In the future, I do plan on going to graduate school and getting at least one advanced degree. Beyond that I will be looking for a full-time position teaching music."
Marsan’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Get out of your comfort zone. Take a class that has nothing to do with your major. Join a club even though you don’t know anyone. Do something you thought you would never be capable of. You might surprise yourself and you might find a new passion."