I am currently a PhD student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 2009-2012, I worked as a teaching assistant in the Music Department here at Illinois, leading four discussion sections a semester for the "Introduction to World Music" course. This year I am a fellow for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at the university, which funds me to study Quechua, the language of indigenous populations in the Andes of South America. I recently finished my master's thesis, which is about music on the northwestern coast of Ecuador. Titled "Folklorization and Afro-Ecuadorian Music in Esmeraldas: Discourses of Vergüenza and Projects of Revalorización," my thesis explores the way music is used to express individual and group identities.
For me, the most beneficial aspect of being a music student at St. Mike's was the freedom I had in orienting my learning. The various ethnomusicology-oriented courses that were available at the time led me to add a second major in Anthropology, all of which has led me to where I am today. The support I received from Nat, Susan, Doc, and Joss motivated me to pursue a career in ethnomusicology. After graduating, I Googled (!) "internships in ethnomusicology," and sent out applications with my CV, listing all of the courses I took while at St. Mike's. This led to a four-month internship at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and a four-month (which extended into nine months) internship in Ecuador.
Currently, apart from coursework, I play in several private groups and university ensembles. I play percussion and keyboards in a West African band led by master djembefola Bolokada Conde. I am the co-director of the group Costas, which performs music from the Caribbean and Pacific Coast of Colombia and the northwest coast of Ecuador. I play accordion in the university ensemble "Balkanalia" which performs music from the Balkans and Middle East. I also play in a rock band, Sonny Stubble, which has given me the opportunity to travel around the Midwest for performances. I mention all of these examples because I feel they are manifestations of the freedom I was granted during my time at St. Mike's.