Editorial: Rising senior hopes to give back

Two years ago, I found out that I had been named the low brass section leader of the Stevenson University Marching Band. This year, I have received the absolute honor of being named the drum major of that same ensemble.

Junior business communication major Emma Cathy Smith was chosen as the Stevenson University Marching Band drum major after nearly three years of dedication to the music program. (Photo by Adrian Reantaso)

At the time I received my first leadership role in the SUMB, I was a 17-year-old freshman who had only just completed one year of marching…ever. I had only played a brass instrument for that first year. In all honesty, I didn’t think I had a chance when I interviewed for that position; I mainly auditioned just for the sake of seeing what the process was like. The only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to make a difference by the time I graduated. During high school, the visual and performing arts program gave me an outlet to express myself; I knew, then, that it’d be important for me to continue advocating for it during my college years.

Despite being so empowered by my time as a musician, I had actually started college with the notion that ‘as enjoyable as it is, I can’t make a career out of it.’ This was something that I heard, in many forms, from people who had lived more of their own lives than I had. As a result, I only ever planned on participating in just one ensemble here – a huge turnaround, considering that I had finished high school as a member of every performing group offered. I planned on suppressing the urge, hoping that it’d shrink down to a point where I could prioritize a ‘real career.’

Needless to say, that didn’t work. I am a proud member of the Stevenson University Bands, the Greenspring Valley Orchestra, the University Singers, and our a capella group, All Natural. I have no regrets about doing so. Whenever people ask how I manage to make it all work, the answer is easy: I love doing it. I have never been happier than I have been here, able to engage in all of the things I love, while shaping a future for myself in which all of these passions can co-exist.

As I begin to prepare for my last year as a member of the SUMB (and as a student at Stevenson University), I feel so thankful that this organization has given me the opportunity to grow, while also giving back to the musical community that helped shape me. Through this experience, not only have I grown exponentially as a person, musician, and a leader, but it has also given me the opportunity to discover just how much it means to me. I’ve learned that music is something I can’t just divorce myself from and that, as long as those passions are rooted in something true, I don’t need to put any sort of limit on it. I don’t have to restrict it and make it fit into a box for the sake of my career – it CAN be my career. This hands-on learning that I experienced while also engaging in one of my strongest passions is something that I will forever be thankful for.

During my time in the marching band, I have grown from the freshman who didn’t know anything to the rising senior ready to lead the charge. Looking back, I’m truly astonished – not only by that growth, but also at how I’ve been able to apply it, on and off the field. My re-discovered ability to express myself has given me more opportunities than I could’ve dreamed, even within my own major.

As I work to combine this business communication degree with this love of music, I feel secure knowing that I’m entering that world with a strong foundation already established. Unlike when I started college, I will be ending this journey more resolute, more determined. My foundation has been fortified, and I am certain that, as a result of all of the lessons I have learned, I will be able to go down this career path without hesitation or regret.

To those still continuing their college journey, I encourage you to stay just as involved in your passions. If you feel that you have to squash them in order to fit in a mold, then maybe that mold isn’t the right one for you. Find out what makes you authentically you, and don’t let go – for anyone.

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