Senior Spotlight: Melina Jaharis

By Margaret Koss

With graduation quickly approaching, our time with the members of the Class of 2015 is getting short. To give us a better idea of what the seniors are doing after Lawrence and how they got there, this column will feature a different senior each week for the rest of the year. This week’s senior is Melina Jaharis, who will be in the process of finding a voice teacher and eventually going to graduate school for a master’s degree in vocal performance.

“Lawrence doesn’t really tell you what to do after college — in voice, specifically,” Jaharis said. “A lot of people just apply to grad schools because they don’t want to take a year off singing. You can’t really improve much when you’re not taking lessons with a specific music teacher, especially at this age. Everything about music is so technical and takes daily practice.”

Jaharis, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance, said she came to Lawrence for the conservatory, but wished she could have taken more classes in the college. “I love academics here. I think there are a lot of things that could be improved in the con.”

“One of the problems with the [B.Mus.] is you don’t get to really choose your classes for essentially your first year here because of the sequencing of music classes like theory and composition. So if I had wanted to start other sequences like German or calc from the beginning, I would’ve had to overload, which is way too much.”

Because of the stricter class options, Jaharis feels like conservatory students have less opportunity to expand their horizons and take what interests them.

“I haven’t taken a lot of classes in the college outside of things I know and am familiar with, and I think that’s because I just don’t know about so many college subjects. I only have so many classes that I can choose from, and so many of my classes are music that I just didn’t try things out the way I think most college students do,” she said.

Although she is disappointed she could not explore the way she would have liked, Jaharis said she has gained a lot from being in the conservatory. “I have increased my musicianship skills exponentially and I’ve learned how to deal with defeat.”

“You’re going to audition a lot and not get what you want, and I’ve learned here how to deal with that, because it’s not the end of the world. Opportunities do present themselves, and when something won’t work out, something else will.”

In addition to being more aware of how the world works in a career path such as music, Jaharis said she has also become more aware of how the world works in general.

“I think the best thing Lawrence has given me is social awareness. I didn’t know what social justice was or what feminism was before coming here. And I didn’t really care or think critically about anything, which is awful,” she says.

“And this awareness didn’t come from classes. None of these issues are discussed in classes, and maybe it’s because the professors don’t have time in the context of what they’re teaching, but it’s just interesting that for a campus that’s considered liberal, we don’t talk about the actual real life applications in class. So I’m grateful for the student body here that has gotten me involved.”

Jaharis will miss a lot of the student body that she has met here, but does not feel a big sense of connectedness to her class as a whole. “I feel like I’ve interacted with the majority of my grade, and it’s been fine. In comparison to last year, since they were a bigger class, it just felt like they were a more cohesive group of people, and I think we’ve been in their shadow in a lot of ways.”