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When Emily Nelson graduated from Olivet High School (OHS) in 2014, she knew that she wouldn’t have to look further than her own backyard to decide where to attend college.

Today, the Olivet College music major has traded in her green and white-accented marching band uniform for a brand new crimson red and timeless black ensemble that debuted this past fall with the return of the Marching Comets.

Small Town Harmony

Growing up, music was always an influence in Nelson’s life. After being heavily involved with the OHS Bands as an instrumentalist and color guard member, even having the opportunity to travel and perform across the nation, it’s no surprise that the sophomore settled on music as her major at Olivet College.

“Music has pretty much been my outlet my whole life. It is the one thing that I am good at and I really enjoy doing,” Nelson said, stressing that rehearsal is not just a place where you can play music – it’s a place where you can be yourself.

“The band room [is] a no-judge zone, you can go there and it’s like a second home. You can be yourself and everyone else [are] themselves. It’s just a place where you can have more than just your simple group of friends throughout school,” Nelson said.

In studying music, Nelson aspires to create this same sense of warmth and welcoming environment for others someday too. Her ultimate goal is to work with people, especially young children, and teach them a “universal language” through music as an elementary teacher.

 All the Right Notes

Thanks to the familiarity of having a college within her community, Nelson found the transition from high school to college both comfortable and affordable as a commuter.

“Being close to home has made me more comfortable with college,” Nelson said.

With the ability to progress forward in a community she’s been a lifelong resident of, Nelson is better able to focus on her studies and build relationships with her professors in the college’s performing arts program, rather than worry about adjusting to a new town and larger class sizes.

“The three music professors are my advisors – Mr. (Jeremy) Duby, Dr. (Ramona) Kime, Dr. (Timothy) Flynn have all had some sort of impact in different directions; whether it’s something with schooling or helping me figure out where I want to go or even if it’s deal with everyday life,” Nelson said. “Just to have that other support … just to have someone else to talk to that’s above you, who understands what you’re going through is nice to have.”

Keeping the Rhythm

For Nelson, Olivet College has provided many opportunities for her to remain involved within both the campus and local community.

Not only does she play clarinet in the college wind ensemble, jazz, athletic (pep) band and marching band, she also continues to perform with her alma mater as a pep band alumni during the winter sports season and to help as a mentor during summer band camp, recognizing that “whether it’s marching or different concerts and festivals, just to have another person who knows what’s going on is a nice thing,” Nelson said.

For students who aren’t ready just yet to pack up their horns after high school graduation, Nelson advises that you don’t have to as long as you continue to carry a passion for music and learning.

“Going into music, you should love doing it or enjoying it to where you always want to know more about it. Music is a language that anyone can understand. It is a great feeling to speak that language,” Nelson said.

Interested in pursuing music at Olivet College? Reach out to director of bands Jeremy Duby at 269.749.7158 or jduby@olivetcollege.edu to learn more about the opportunities in our performing arts program.

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