News Archive

Jennifer Trost

In a nutshell, what do you do?
I teach voice to undergraduate and graduate students; I also teach the song literature and opera literature courses. As part of my research, I am required to perform and so I do occasional opera roles and frequent recitals.
What are you working on right now?
In addition to my academic work, I am beginning to work on a new piece called “Beethoven’s Slippers,” which was recently composed for me by Judith Cloud. It’s a monodrama (one-woman show) lasting about 25 minutes and accompanied by piano and string quartet. I hope to do the world premiere in the fall of 2016 and then take it on tour. It will have modest staging and may even have projections of the librettist’s paintings as a backdrop. It will be very exciting to create this work from the ground up.
Why do you love what you do?
I find that it is fulfilling to be able to communicate universal emotions and experiences through song. I also enjoy singing in foreign languages and being exposed to other cultures, ways of thinking, and being exposed to exotic places and history. I like having to try to improve myself and my abilities on a day-to-day basis.
How did Albion help you get there?
Albion allowed me to explore all of my interests, to explore my potential and to develop into the person I am today. I started in biology and ended up in music. Through the mentoring and instruction of caring and talented faculty, I was able to grow and put aside my inhibitions and embark on a journey, which took me beyond my wildest dreams.
For me, Albion...
...was a life-altering experience. I stood at the fork in the road during a significant chapter in my life and I chose the road less taken, and to quote Robert Frost: “and that has made all the difference.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am grateful for the knowledge, experience and mentoring I received at Albion. It was a safe and nurturing environment for me. I discovered my passion for music and was inspired to stretch myself and see how far I could go. Who knew it would take me to foreign lands and introduce me to people and cultures I never dreamed of being exposed to!

Take It Further: More on Jennifer's career, Music Department, Education Department, Biology Department

David Wunderlich

In a nutshell, what do you do?
My main focus is acting; it’s what I love and what I came out here to do. However, this year, I’ve been involved on the other side of the camera as well. I started my own company, Break Free Productions, as a platform to create and cast myself in my own work. It’s been quite the learning curve, but incredibly rewarding as well.
What are you working on right now?
As I’m writing this, I just stepped off the set of General Hospital. I recur on that show as the bartender at the Metro Court Restaurant. I’m also currently in the process of submitting a short film I produced and starred in to various festivals locally, nationally and internationally. It’s something I’ve been working on with some colleagues for the past six months, and now the film is finally finished and we’re in the process of getting it out there and (hopefully) being recognized for our hard work. This film has taught me so much about the filmmaking process. I’ve been there every step of the way from inception to completion, and then some! It’s insane the amount of work it takes to get a movie made. I have a whole new appreciation now when I sit down and watch a film.
Why do you love what you do?
I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been fascinated by actors, too. I can remember as a kid watching the red carpet just to see the interviews of the actors and then changing the channel as soon as the awards started because I didn’t know any of the movies that were nominated! There was just always something so unique and authentic about actors and from a very young age it’s been a quality I’ve admired. And once I started acting, I knew why this quality exists in actors. Learning to be a better actor is learning to live a fuller life, plain and simple. Any reservations you have as an actor are the same reservations you have in your life, and learning to work through those is unbelievably rewarding.

It’s also because of the way films have affected my life. Films have the power to open your mind and your heart to something, or to bring clarity to a struggle you’ve been dealing with, and even to change the direction of your life. It’s happened to me so many times, and my hope is that I can someday return the favor, maybe help some kid realize his dream.
How did Albion help you get there?
I did my first play at Albion. Albion also gave me the opportunity to come out to LA and intern on the set of Cougar Town my junior year, and it was during that internship that I decided I was going to go all in and pursue acting as a career. If it weren’t for my four years at Albion, I might not even be out here right now. But, ultimately, the liberal arts education I received there has helped me more than I had ever imagined. I opened my mind through it, and nothing could be more helpful for a career in the arts. 
For me, Albion...
...is a place I'll always look back at and smile. The classes, the football games, the Greek life, and most importantly the friends, are some of the best memories I'll ever have.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The older I get, the more I realize, especially in this day and age, you can make money doing anything you want to! People are inventing new jobs every single day. Find what you love, whatever it is that you’d gladly do for free, and go make a living out of it. Don’t take the safe route, it’s not even guaranteed to be safe! So take a risk, do what you love and find a way to make money doing it. That’s what you got an education for, isn’t it? Use it!

Take It Further: David's IMDB profile, Communication Studies, Theatre

Connie Van Onselder

In a nutshell, what do you do?
I manage, direct and oversee all aspects of Keeneland’s cash management, financial reporting and other financial matters. This includes managing the finance staff, maintaining banking and other outside relationships, overseeing audit and tax reporting and presenting financial data to the Board of Directors.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently analyzing the financial impact of potential changes to a vendor contract as well as reviewing the daily profit-and-loss statement for our spring race meet.
Why do you love what you do?
There is no finer institution in the sport of Thoroughbred racing or Thoroughbred auctions in this country. The tradition, history and beauty that are Keeneland make it a wonderful place to come to work every day. I am also blessed to work with a superb senior management team that is collaborative and innovative while maintaining the long-standing traditions of giving back to the community and the Thoroughbred industry.
How did Albion help you get there?
A liberal arts education and Albion in particular taught me critical thinking. As a top financial officer, it is imperative that you know how to question and apply logic as well as manage people. Management is actually taught at Albion, something that I have seen fellow colleagues struggle with. Experience is essential in management, but having the basics in your head before you start and working through scenarios in a classroom setting definitely provide an advantage once you work past the “number crunching” positions.
For me, Albion ...
... encouraged independent and critical thinking, provided real-world internship opportunities that opened doors once I graduated, exposed me to topics and people that I had not been exposed to before, and introduced me to some of my closest lifelong friends.
Anything else you’d like to add?
So many schools today are concentrating on educating for the major and job. This may provide students with their first job, but the well-rounded liberal arts requirements are what will produce the leaders of tomorrow.

Take It Further: Connie featured in Io Triumphe! magazine (Spring-Summer 2013 issue), Economics and Management, Gerstacker Institute

Erich Owens

In a nutshell, what do you do?
I'm a Software Engineer at Facebook. I work on the Public Content Ranking team. Our goal is to surface and recommend high-quality content to users based on their interests and currently trending stories.
What are you working on right now?
I'm currently building machine-learning classifiers to distinguish between different types of posts and posters, leveraging many interesting mathematical and statistical principles to drive abstract pattern recognition.
How did Albion help you get there?
Albion College was an excellent place to begin my career. The residential focus allowed me to identify a strong peer group to live and learn from, and it fostered connections to faculty to the point where I felt comfortable regularly attending office hours or asking questions in class. The students and research faculty at my later schools were also impressive, but the community aspect was not nearly as individually focused.
Looking back, were there benefits to participating in Albion's Dual Degree Program in Engineering instead of the more traditional route of four or five years at an engineering school?
The pre-engineering program encouraged me to focus on broader interests. A five-year program gave me plenty of time to take plenty of interesting math and science electives, but it also allowed me to take courses in literature, game theory, philosophy and art, and even spend a semester abroad in Budapest. This focus on the liberal arts was essential to my development as a human being and a well-rounded professional, and could not have been possible in a compressed four-year curriculum.
Do any Albion courses or experiences stand out in your mind as particularly helpful while you were in engineering school?
The focus on math faculty who'd excitedly explain concepts in analysis or algebra or industrial mathematics—that went a long way toward building the fundamentals I'd apply in more advanced courses in later years. For instance, my linear algebra course was not a bag of tricks, but rather focused heavily on building a geometric intuition that carried me clean through real analysis (critical for understanding Jacobian determinants and the Inverse Function theorem), functional analysis, and many basic tenants of machine learning (say, Mercer's theorem and the Kernel trick). My sense of larger schools like the University of Michigan is that their basic undergraduate courses like this try their hardest to weed students out of competitive majors rather than nurture this sort of critical understanding of important topics.
What are some of your favorite memories of your time at Albion?
Living, working and throwing/attending concerts in the Coffeehouse co-op. Staying up late in Palenske Hall working on problem sets, commandeering a classroom all to myself. Living my final year in Munger Hall with my best friends. Being supported and encouraged by faculty to ask as many questions as I could, to apply to programs I thought way out of my league, and to generally be the best person I could be.

Take It Further: Dual Degree Program in Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics

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