Sophomore and business administration major Abigale Smith may only have two semesters under her belt at The University of Olivet, but she already has earned the title of drum major, an important job she will hold for the remainder of her time at OC. Abigale heard about Olivet, and more importantly the growing music program, from Olivet alumnus Dave MacQueen ’75, a staff member at Lakewood High School. Abigale visited campus during the annual High School Honor Band event and that’s when she added Olivet to the list of college’s she was considering.
“I remember not being sure about my college choice, but Mr. MacQueen and I were walking on campus and he told me that sometimes it comes down to the feeling you get when you’re at a specific college that draws you in,” explained Abigale. “It wasn’t until after I toured several other campuses that I understood what he meant. Olivet just felt like home to me, and no matter what other college I went to, I was always drawn back here. I loved the people and the small campus and everything just seemed to fall into place for me. I couldn’t be happier that I chose to attend Olivet.”
Initially doubting herself, Abigale didn’t think a college level band would be a good fit for her talents. She couldn’t have been more wrong. With encouragement from friends, family and her high school band directors, Abigale, a trumpet player, auditioned for the The University of Olivet Marching Band and has never doubted her decision to do so. She says watching everyone come together as one unit during performances is what makes band special to her, along with the vibrancy a live band adds to the atmosphere of sporting events. In addition, being part of the band has allowed Abigale to build meaningful relationships with both fellow students and her professors, but especially, Director of Bands Jeremy Duby, someone she knows she can always count on for a push in the right direction.
“The biggest opportunity I’ve been provided as part of the band is to be a part of something bigger than myself. I don’t just have friends in this program, I have a family,” Abigale said. “When I doubt myself, Professor Duby always encourages me to keep going. Having that support is very reassuring and makes me feel more confident in my ability to lead the band this upcoming fall. It’s clear that he is passionate about what he’s doing and it translates into the music and to the students. Olivet’s music program would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for him, and I know that under his direction this program will continue to be successful!”
Under Director Duby, the The University of Olivet marching band has grown exponentially since its return in 2015 from a 30-year hiatus. Last year, Margaret Callahan ’17 was named as the first drum major since the band’s return. To audition for the role of drum major, applicants are put through a series of rigorous tests, including executing marching maneuvers and commanding the band with perfection. Additionally, the drum major assists Director Duby with recruiting and serves as the voice of the band to the larger college community.
“Abby is the quintessential student-leader,” Director Duby said. “She puts everyone else’s concerns above her own and truly loves the band as a whole. Her primary objective is the bands’ success, and under her direction, I am confident we will achieve great things.”
While the band is still developing, Abigale sees that as an advantage to build traditions and lay the foundation for present and future success. Because of that and the strong support system within the band, and the entire music program, Abigale believes there is truly a place for every music-lover at Olivet. “Every day we build our legacy, and one day I hope to look back and say, ‘We started that. I was a part of that.’”
While performing at athletic events is the most common activity the band participates in, members have also had the opportunity to perform all over the state and internationally. In 2016, the band even performed at an invitational in Paris, France. For students who are interested in music, whether as a major or an extracurricular activity, The University of Olivet offers Talent Scholarships to students who enrich the campus community through their involvement in talent-based participation opportunities such as Marching Band, Gospel Choir and more. Scholarships worth up to the full cost of tuition, fees, room and board are available to students who play in the Marching Band. Learn more about the The University of Olivet Marching Band and scholarships by contacting Jeremy Duby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269.749.7518. Visit campus or apply to learn more about life as a Comet.