Huskie Spotlight: Jean Leroy, ’23, Master of Music
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I was undecided up until age 19, at which point I realized that music was a real possibility. I have been a student and professional since that moment, and still am both!
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study? I major in World Music Performance/Pedagogy/Research. This has essentially been my career for the last 25 years, and was excited to see a graduate program exists for this field!
What is your favorite thing about studying and/or playing music at NIU? I have studied, performed, and taught at many universities and colleges over the years, and can say with all honesty, that the World Music department at NIU is probably the best-kept secret in North America. World Music programs (not ethnomusicology) are few and far between, and the dedication, purity of intention, and care in this department can be felt in the atmosphere.
How have you connected with other students at NIU? I have connected with NIU students both as a peer and as an instructor. There is a great sense of camaraderie and purpose in the music department. Students seem to really want to be where they are (despite the expected stress!) and are always happy to help one another. As a person who OFTEN needs to ask for help, you can take my word for it!
Are you involved in any student organizations or extra-curricular activities? I I am Vice-President of the World Music Club. This is a brand new experience for me as I just started this Fall! I hope to use the opportunity to create situations that expand the visibility of this wonderful department while simultaneously creating more integration with other music and cultural programs at this institution in order to create more growth opportunities for all the students and faculty involved.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? Thus far, I have had the pleasure of studying with (listed in alphabetical order): Dr. Atkins, Dr. Beyer, Dr. Gordon, Dr. Novak, Dr. Olin, and Dr. Wang. Besides the fact that each is an expert in his or her field(s), they all genuinely care about not only the subject matter but the students (both as learners and as people). Each has his or her very own individual personality and style. In addition to learning the material at hand, I am observing multiple positive role models, both professionally, artistically, and personally.
Why did you choose NIU to study music? As I mentioned, I have studied, performed, and taught at many universities and colleges over the years, and can say with all honesty, that the World Music department at NIU is probably the best-kept secret in North America. World Music programs (not ethnomusicology) are few and far between. This program is perfect for my career path! I consider myself fortunate that is so close to Chicago, where I am based.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? I don’t know if all parties involved feel the same way, but I always enjoy my unannounced visits to my professor’s offices as I selfishly pick their brains for information.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges? Strive to find the balance between taking advantage of all the great opportunities with not over-committing yourself. While we want to do everything for fear of missing out, we actually deprive ourselves of getting the most out of things if we are spread too thin.
What do you do to relax or recharge? Not enough. Maybe I should read my own response to the previous question!
Seriously though, I have finally begun to allow myself to not feel guilty if I choose to pursue a random musical hobby that is not directly related to my “specialty”. I spent years trying to focus on certain things for fear of spreading myself too thin, and (while I do not regret that) I now need to allow myself to, relax and have fun from tie to time.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently? This may sound sarcastic, but it is 100% serious: Reading, writing, note taking, study habits, and patience with technology (all still works in progress).
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