How Graduate School Changed My Life: A Reflection

How Graduate School Changed My Life: A Reflection

It is an understatement to say that going through a graduate program changes your life, for better or worse. For me, it was the former. Before coming to Columbia College Chicago I didn’t know who I was or where I was going, all I knew is I wanted to do music and I wanted to do it well.  Not only did I hone the craft of scoring to media, but I grew 10 fold as a person.

With graduation, and the end of my scholarly endeavors quickly approaching, it is hard not to look back at where you were when you started and feel grateful for where you are and where you are going. In my undergraduate studies, the only DAW I ever opened was ProTools and it wasn’t to compose music, the only media I scored was a friends video game passion project. I composed solely using Sibelius and nothing more. It is hard to believe that that other version of myself existed less than two years ago. Unless you totally clock out, which is inadvisable, it is impossible to not be changed by the experiences you will inevitably have. Everyone’s experience differs of course but mine was like nothing else.

One of the great things about this program is just the diversity of character, background, and experience found in the cohort. Personally, I found myself to be one of the less experienced people just based purely on stats, I had only done school, that is all I had ever know prior to coming to Chicago. The people in my class ranged all the way from church music directors to international pop stars and it was hard not to feel slightly intimidated by everyone’s unique and amazing life experience. School is the ultimate equalizer. No matter your background, everyone does the same assignments and has the same due dates and the restrictions. The only thing that mattered then is that we were all there for the love of music and the betterment of the field. Despite the vast differences between one another, we became best friends over night, always chatting and doing stuff together, when we had time to do so, it was completely not what I expected. All the time I heard about how competitive and cut throat graduate school is, not Columbia. Well, not in the same way. Of course there is competition between classmates but it is undeniably supportive and kind, we are all rooting for one another to succeed and genuinely want the best for the people around us.

I am already more than half way through the blog and have only talked about one single facet of my time here. Working harder than ever is a given in any graduate program, and with that work load you naturally get better at your craft and get faster, more efficient. What you don’t get in the classroom, necessarily, is the people and communication skills that are needed to be successful in this field. I thought that prior to coming to Columbia that I was good at communication and could effectively talk to collaborators. Boy did I have a lot to learn, as many of us did! Luckily, the possibility for collaboration is vast. Wether it is with the undergrad filmmakers, MFA filmmakers, the games department, or the theatre, I had every opportunity to collaborate with many different people and get great practice getting better and more confident with communication.

Honestly, I would need a whole book to contain all of the amazing and live changing experiences I have had at CCC. I wouldn’t be the composer or the person I am today if it weren’t for not only the teachers but also my cohort. I have never been a confident person by any means but I feel like I now have the confidence to take on this massive career and hold my own.

In the coming weeks the class of 2022 will be making the long, and exciting, journey to LA where we will complete final course work, our thesis recordings, and our internships! I am honored to be interning with composer, Michael Kramer (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales, & Ninjago). I am looking forward to the challenge and excitement of forging a career in this business using everything I have learned in the past 6 years from some of the greatest people! Thanks for reading these blogs and I wish you all the best of luck in your journey!


Here are some pictures taken throughout the past two years of the class of 2022 that bring me joy:


Halloween Party 2021

Final dinner with our second composer in residence, Ceiri Torjussen

Bachelorette Party for the bride of one of the cohort members, Casey Stone

Final class with our third composer in residence, Jonathan Miller

Fourth of July Party 2021

First ever time meeting in person

My wedding with Will (from the cohort) and his wife singing our first dance song

Mat Prock teaching us about hardware compressors

Hanging out between classes

Preparing for our second recording session

Attending a concert conducted by our conducting instructor