Emily Kerski ’16

emily kerski.headshot_testimonial

As a clarinetist seeking a career in performance, the LEAP program provides the bridge I need to realize my goals. I aspire to become an orchestral musician while pursuing my interest in arts advocacy, outreach, and education. My work in the LEAP minor thus far has not only encouraged these interests, but shown me the powerful positive impact of the arts on society. The Arts Advocacy and Creating Your Arts Career courses offer invaluable knowledge and practical experience in a wide range of highly relevant topics, from artistic fundraising, to budgeting, to the arts in public policy. The LEAP courses have provided the resources I need to develop the professional side of my performance career, including instruction in personal branding, marketing, and self-promotion. These skills are an unwritten but expected requirement of success in my field, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be formally trained and advised in these subjects during my undergraduate years. Moreover, the knowledge gained in LEAP minor courses has a remarkably varied application to many disciplines and goals, and this can undoubtedly serve students with a number of aspirations and majors.

We are constantly challenged to apply our academic knowledge in many settings outside the classroom, whether by attending Fort Collins City Council meetings after learning about civics and the arts, or organizing public forums to discuss societal issues through the arts during our Artists as Society‚Äôs Advocates unit. In the Arts Advocacy course, my group project on arts integration in education evolved into an ongoing research endeavor which connected me to knowledgeable professionals across campus, experts in the community, and schools across the state. I was able to delve into a current arts issue and work to promote change in my own city’s investment in the arts. I was pushed to become an active advocate in the community beyond simply discussing advocacy in the classroom. This project was an incredibly challenging and worthwhile experience, one that will continue to be applicable as I move forward in my career.

The LEAP faculty is tremendously invested in the success of the students in the program. I have been guided toward many beneficial programs and opportunities for professional growth because of my relationships with the faculty, and I consider them to be the most valuable mentors. Indeed, one of the compelling aspects of LEAP courses is the opportunity to learn from the expertise and experience of the professors. As a young performing artist, the opportunity to ask questions of the artist-faculty who are making successful careers with music is inspiring. Their firsthand knowledge of the world in which we will build a career enables them to educate and prepare us effectively. I have also appreciated the many guest speakers and artists from a variety of fields that the faculty frequently brings in to present new perspectives. The excellent tutelage I received through LEAP courses last year helped me to receive a Jumpstart Award from Colorado Creative Industries to attend the 2013 ARIA International Summer Academy for Advanced Music Studies. I am grateful to the LEAP faculty for their inspiration, generosity, and expertise in assisting me personally with the process of writing this grant. These professors continue to guide me through grant writing and other career endeavors, and I know that their encouragement, support, and connections will continue to be helpful as I embark on my career post-graduation.

Another enormous benefit of the LEAP program is its interdepartmental collaboration between every kind of artist. I greatly enjoy the opportunity to learn from artists outside of the music field, whether by collaborating on group projects or discussing their creative processes outside of class. My LEAP courses gave me the context to have transformational conversations with highly talented and intelligent colleagues. I truly believe that my peers in LEAP will accomplish amazing things and I feel honored to have worked with them. The small class size of the LEAP courses also facilitates excellent class discussion and opportunity for more personal interaction with the professors.

New opportunities are constantly surfacing in the LEAP Institute, through guest lectures, internships, and chances to network with artists and other professionals, both within the university and in the greater community. The amount of real-world experiences offered by the program and their significance to our future careers cannot be overstated. Everything I have learned in these courses can be immediately turned around and put into practice. Throughout this journey, I have learned to think differently, critically, and more intentionally about my future career and artistic pursuits. Above all, the LEAP minor has challenged and broadened my perspective on the arts, and opened my arts career to more possibilities than I ever could have imagined.