It’s that time of year again. If you are a high school senior, then you have most likely sent out all of your college applications and are waiting patiently to hear back from each school. Choosing the right college is not easy. It is a decision that quite literally determines your future- the people you meet, the places you travel, and the experiences you have. These experiences ultimately shape who we become after we have completed our degree programs. I distinctly remember this stage of my life from three years ago. Since I had chosen to pursue a career in music therapy, I was knee deep in college auditions and musical rehearsals for my high school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. Although I was accepted into each school that I had applied for, I was still faced with the task of choosing one of them. Ultimately, I chose Nazareth because it felt like the best fit for me. The music therapy program is one of the best in the country, and I had already felt connected with the professors in the department from my audition. Naz is also only two hours from my hometown near Utica, NY. Being the second oldest in a family of seven, I am extremely close with my siblings and I wanted to be close to home. Lastly, I had fallen in love with the campus itself. From the historical brick buildings to the abundance of pine trees, Nazareth’s campus is absolutely stunning. As I reflect on the past two and a half years I have spent at Naz, I discovered that there are so many other incredible aspects of the school that I was unaware of until I started attending.
The York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute (WRI): As previously mentioned, I am a music therapy major. I am required to complete four semesters of practicum, which is my program’s equivalency of a clinical placement. The York WRI is a hidden gem of the Nazareth campus. It houses the physical, occupational, speech, art, and music therapy clinics and it is one of the only facilities of its kind in the U.S. Being a student at Nazareth has granted me the opportunity to complete my first semester of practicum in this building right on campus. I do not own a car, which makes this facility that much more valuable to me. Since the building houses so many other related departments, Naz student clinicians can collaborate with the other related services like physical or occupational therapy. My practicum placement last semester was with another student music therapist and five physical therapy students. It was such an amazing opportunity to learn more about physical therapy and how to have a successful interprofessional cotreat- life skills that I will not take for granted in my future career.
The Italian Program: Although I had studied Spanish in high school, I always wanted to learn Italian. My mother is 100% Italian and I had always felt closely connected with the culture. When arriving at Naz, I had no idea that there was an Italian department, much less a cultural house called Casa Italiana. Casa Italiana hosts a wide variety of free cultural events that are open to Naz students and community members- from movie nights to opera performances and even cooking classes! Spring semester of my freshman year I took the Italian History Through Cinematography course with Dr. Vitti. I enjoyed her course so much that I immediately declared a minor in Italian and she became my second advisor. Since then, I have taken three semesters of Italian and am currently the vice president of Club Italianissimo. I even went to the National Italian American Foundation’s 42nd Gala in Washington D.C. last November, and was able to meet other club officers from across the U.S.! Had I not chosen Naz, I would have missed the opportunity to study my heritage, as well as connect with other students who share my passion for Italian culture and language.
Center for Spirituality & Naz Alternative Breaks: Another unique program that Nazareth College has to offer is their service trips and retreats through the Center for Spirituality and Naz Alternative Breaks. Each department offers unique trips that focus on various social justice issues such as hunger and homelessness, migration, and community youth development. Offered over the winter, spring, and fall breaks, these trips allow students to commit to service work while traveling to various parts of North America. I know it sounds cliche, but these trips have literally changed my life in regards to how I interact with others, the way I think, and how I spend my time outside of class. An added bonus is all of the people I’ve met and places I’ve visited through these trips. Some of my closest friends from Naz have attended these service trips with me. Over the past two and a half years, I traveled to Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Moscow, Idaho; El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and the Grand Canyon. The trips to D.C. and El Paso/Juarez were over my spring break and were quite reasonably priced. My trips to Idaho and the Grand Canyon were almost completely covered by the school. As I previously mentioned, I live with a family of seven people, which makes it quite expensive to travel very far. Had it not been for the accessibility and affordability of Naz’s service retreats, I may have missed out on so many life-changing opportunities. These trips are yet another amazing set of opportunities that Nazareth has to offer.
The Rochester Area: When choosing Naz, I was really excited to explore more of the Rochester area. I have definitely found my second home here. Because I am an RA (resident assistant), I only go home about once a month. This has given me the privilege not only to explore the area but to also become close with the other RAs on campus. In October, my staff went apple picking at Whitters’ Fruit Farm and we had so much fun! It was close to campus and super cheap, too. Because I love being outdoors during the fall, I made one of my floor programs that month a hiking trip to Abraham Lincoln Park, which is only 20 minutes from campus. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day and is one my favorite hiking trails to date. Another perk of living in the Rochester area is the accessibility to running trails along the Erie Canal. Thanks to the service trips at Naz, running has become a passion of mine. The trails are only a 10-minute walk (or a five-minute run) from campus! These trails also became my main training course for the Rochester City Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon ever, and I was fortunate that the trail took me past Rochester’s gorgeous High Falls. Let’s be honest though, the food in Rochester seals the deal; it’s incredible. From Pittsford Dairy (which is a 5-minute walk from campus) to Pizza Favo and Aladdin’s, Rochestarians sure know how to cook.
The Study Abroad Program: Last, but certainly not least is Nazareth College’s study abroad program through the Center for International Education (CIE). Being a music therapy major makes studying abroad tricky. Music majors often have to take several courses that are not a lot of credits but are essential to our future occupations such as piano, aural skills, and guitar. When applying for colleges, I had asked about potentially studying abroad. I was told no so many times that I thought it would never happen. When I talked with the professors at Naz, they were willing to work with me to try and make my dream a reality. Both my music therapy and Italian advisors have been guiding me since freshman year to make sure that I am taking all of the courses I need to graduate on time. Thanks to their efforts, as well as CIE (Center for International Education), I will be studying in Pescara, Italy this coming spring semester at Universita degli studi “G. d’Annunzio”. I will also be completing a practicum placement at the on-campus clinic in Pescara! I am so grateful for this opportunity not only to study in Italy but to also reunite with some of my international friends who I have met at Naz. Although I will miss my second home and all of the people who share it with me, I look forward to the semester that is to come in Italy. Keep on the lookout for more of my blog posts to learn first hand about studying abroad and why I love Nazareth College.