World-renowned Metropolitan Opera performer and Baldwin Wallace University alumni, Jennifer Rowley, returned to her Alma Mater to facilitate a master class for students in the vocal studies department.
Rowley received a Bachelor of Music degree from the BW Conservatory of Music in 2002. She is a decorated Opera singer having just had her Metropolitan Opera debut this past season as Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac, where critics gave her rave reviews. Jennifer has since been offered title roles in shows through 2020.
Only five students were chosen to perform for Rowley and work directly with her on vocal technique. Kat Davies, a sophomore vocal performance major at Baldwin Wallace, loved her experience sitting in on the master class. Although Davies was not chosen to perform at the master class, she still believes that the class has given her valuable skills that she will use throughout her career.
“It was such a cool experience, because she is opera famous,” said Kat. “She has gotten so far in her career and it is just really amazing to see the path that I am on. She wants to come back to spend time with us and nurture us. She has so much to teach us; she knows exactly where we are, because this is where she was”.
Dr. Marc Weagraff, Chair of the Vocal Studies department sees a palpable difference in the way other clinicians behave when they are here and the way Rowley behaves.
“Jennifer feels at home here and that is evident. She feels like she is coming back home to give a class whereas others feel like a guest.”
While he does not dismiss the work of other clinicians, he does believe the students feel more comfortable with Rowley. This is not Rowley’s first time here, as she makes a point to come to campus at least once a year. Students have a connection with her not only because of her ability to relate to their experiences, but also because they are very comfortable with her.
“A lot of the students are Facebook friends with her,” said Weagraff. “They certainly have a lot of respect for her as a rising star in the classical singing field but a lot of them feel a certain familiarity with her because she has been here.”
Weagraff believes having alumni connections is beneficial for not only the school but also the students.
BW has over 48,000 alumnae, including those that have bachelor‘s and master’s degrees, according to Terry Kurtz, the director of Alumni Engagement. The Office of Alumni Engagement makes attempts to remain in contact with every one of those individuals. Kurtz understands how important alumni engagement is for current students and their future careers.
“Alumni can give current students insight into any industry, into a whole profession, into job opportunities,” Kurtz said.
Alumni engagement goes far beyond donations. They encourage successful alumni to mentor students, to help in career services, to read current students resumes, and to offer current students shadowing opportunities. The Office of Alumni engagement recognizes the “for life” portion of the phrase, “Yellow Jacket for life” as being very important. There is a network of 48,000 alumni at students’ fingertips and they are encouraged to reach our to those individuals.