Student Spotlight: Saraina Wise - fusing her passion for music and law

Ohio-native Saraina Wise knew she wanted to double major in music and political science in college. Throughout high school, she was involved as both a percussionist and in politics, performing in local and regional ensembles as well as being an active member of Junior Statesmen of America and a teen ambassador for the Ohio Attorney General. Her dual interest in both led her to explore Kent State and, ultimately, it became her first choice. 

Now entering her second year at Kent State, she is actively involved in both majors, studying percussion with Dr. Matthew Holm and performing in Symphony Band, Marching Golden Flashes and Percussion Ensemble. Currently, she’s spending her summer as a Student Administrative Assistant with the Kent Blossom Music Festival

Once she completes her undergraduate studies, she plans to attend law school to pursue her Juris Doctorate with music remaining a central facet of her life.

I recently had the chance to talk with Saraina about her journey to Kent State, working for the Kent Blossom Music Festival and her plans for the future. Read excerpts from the conversation below!

Question: You’re majoring in both music and political science. How did you choose Kent State to pursue both of these degrees?

Saraina Wise: Kent State worked with me the most when it came to my degree program: other schools I looked at required extra general education/core classes, wouldn’t accept as many of my College Credit Plus classes, weren’t as friendly with me, etc. I came to the School of Music Open House in 2018 and immediately felt like I could really learn from and get along with the faculty and students here. This was really important to me, considering my music degree is what I’m spending the most time on. 

Immediately after the Open House, I walked to the Admissions Office and sat down with a counselor, who answered every question I had and made me feel right at home. Kent State put all 33 credits I had earned in high school to use somewhere, with only one or two classes being electives. Sometime after this, I set up a private lesson with Dr. Holm and completed my audition a few weeks later. This degree program is anything but a conventional choice, but it’s a dream I’ve had for years, and Kent State was the first (and only) school I looked at that made me feel like it was possible. 

Q: What drew you to working for the Kent Blossom Music Festival?

SW: I really wanted to find a summer job that would be meaningful for me and mutually beneficial - I wanted to work somewhere where I could put my prior knowledge and skills to use, and in return, gain more experience in my field and just generally enjoy my job. The KBMF position had all of that and more, and I’d heard great things about it. I honestly thought it was a long shot when I applied - I just finished up freshman year and I didn’t have much experience in chamber or orchestral music - but I was still hopeful that I’d get it because of my background in office work and customer service and just my general passion for music. I was ecstatic when I got the call saying I got the job, and I’m so thankful for it. I love the people I work with (both my co-workers and our students and faculty) and while I put a lot of my prior knowledge to use, I learn something new every day. 

Q: What have some of the highlights of the Festival been so far? What are you looking forward to for the rest of the 2019 season?

SW: Honestly, my favorite part of the Festival so far has been watching the students grow and make connections. They’re all really wonderful, friendly people, and they’re so passionate about what they do. I practice at the school just about every day, and no matter what time I’m there, I always see at least one of the students there working. We just finished up our first round of Young Artists recitals, and watching all of them perform was an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to watching them perform with the Cleveland Orchestra and watching the rest of their student recitals.

Q: How do you see music fitting into your life once you’ve completed your law studies?

One of the pieces of advice that I’ve heard numerous times when it comes to law school is to have an artistic outlet - something to help you shake off some of the extreme pressure you’re under at times. Music is absolutely my outlet. I want to be a lawyer because I’m passionate about giving people a voice and helping people who don’t have that voice get the justice they deserve. Music, however, is my voice. There’s a lot to be said about how much music helps everyone, in general, find themselves, but specifically for me, I feel right/alive/most “myself” when I’m performing (not to say it doesn’t scare me a little because I definitely get some stage fright, haha). I’m happy to know that I’ll be able to use music and performing to keep my head above water once I become a lawyer.

Q: Advice for double majors?

SW: Make those credits work for you!! So many of the classes I’ve taken have fulfilled more than one degree requirement, so even if I completely shook up my degree program and took on a whole new life path, I’d retain some useful credit. The best way to find these classes is to do your research ahead of your advising appointment (that specific advice is good for everyone, regardless of degree program) and ask questions during your advising appointment. 

If you’re still in high school and are thinking about becoming a double major once you get to college, try to complete some college credit (CCP, AP, CLEP, etc.) before you graduate high school. My CCP credits freed up so much space for me to be able to take everything I need for both degrees. Also, find people that support you and what you’re doing - I have a whole support system of friends, faculty, and staff that know what I’m doing with my life and believe in me, and none of this would be possible without them. Most importantly, find new and creative ways to blend your passions together - the world needs multi-talented, innovative people!

Learn more about Kent State's Percussion program

Learn more about Kent State's political science program

Written by:

Andrew Paa, Marketing Assistant
Hugh A. Glauser School of Music 

POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 3:05pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 26, 2019 - 4:05am