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John Whitson
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​John Whitson

Graduation year: 2016

Majors: Vocal music education and music composition

Activities: Augustana Choir, Augustana Chamber Singers, Opera@Augustana, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association, Omicron Delta Kappa

Internships: I have been a music intern at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bettendorf, Iowa, for the past four years. I student-taught at both Rockridge Junior and Senior High School in Taylor Ridge, Ill., and Garfield Elementary in Davenport, Iowa.

Post-grad plans: I will be the choral director at Durant (Iowa) Community School for grades 7-12. In a few years, I'd love to either join a professional singing group or seek higher education in one of the many areas that I love — hard to choose just one!

Why Augustana?

The music education program and the Augustana Choir are two exemplary programs that guided me to choose Augustana. But more importantly, I believe it's the indescribable feeling of walking through Augie's quad and somehow knowing you are worth something here. 

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Yes and no. By majoring in music education, I imagined that I would be teaching music four years later, which I in fact will be doing after college. However, I will be so much more than a music educator — rather a liberally educated individual who has traveled the world and has much more room to grow. The whole concept of being liberally educated is something that my friends and I joke about, but we know that we are so fortunate for the unique and diverse opportunities it has provided us on our journey within our discipline.

Who helped you?

The unconditional love and support from my family have provided me with the opportunity to grow into the person that I truly am, not who I should be. Also, many faculty and peers have challenged me to grow as a singer, composer, musician, teacher, citizen and friend. I owe much of my personal success to a handful of people.

A peak experience?

Winning first place in the upper division category of the Webster Vocal Competition, specifically as a countertenor, was a peak experience because it proved the legitimacy and viability in singing a voice part that is commonly doubted and misunderstood. Another peak experience was being a student for the weekend retreat of Pastor Priggie's LSFY's class, The Soul of Harry Potter, and then serving as a retreat leader the past three years. In the brief moment of a weekend, I connected with a group of strangers over a story that we ended up not knowing nearly as much about as we thought, and along the way I discovered the center of my life.

What has surprised you?

After having no brothers or many guy friends in high school, I was surprised to learn that I am able to relate and connect with such a wide variety of guys that I now call my brothers. Long live Sinfonia!

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice in the summer of 2015 to explore Germany, Sweden and Denmark, singing in the most beautiful cathedrals with the Augustana Choir.

What will you miss the most?

By having a passion for learning, I will miss the opportunity to take classes to learn new things. However, the faculty and peers within the classes are what made the learning personal and relevant to my life. These people will be missed most.

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Join something that you love, join something that you hate, join something that you know nothing about — don't wait for life to shape you. Take ownership in the shaping of yourself.

"John has been such a pleasure to teach. He is willing to try anything new and approaches new ideas with excitement and curiosity. He has been involved in the music department in so many capacities... whenever we need a dependable student, we think of John. He also is respected and admired by students and faculty alike, and incoming students look up to him. He is genuine, kind and a gifted musician. I know he will do great things."

— Margaret Ellis, instructor, music