In the span of 24 hours, I went from walking across the graduation stage to receive my Master's to flying over the Atlantic Ocean to begin a 12-day choir tour to Sweden and Estonia. Since the end of the school year was filled with a whirlwind of events, it was about half way through the 12-day tour that I realized that I had truly graduated. Not just graduated with my degree, but graduated from this chapter in my life. This chapter in my life that was filled with learning and growing - mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally - was now six days away from closing forever. Although I knew I would be taking with me the knowledge and friendships I had accumulated during this time of my life, I also knew that this tour would be the last time I would experience life through the lens of this short chapter called, Mizzou. This realization was humbling, saddening, and exciting.
During my time at Mizzou, I had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and direct the vocal jazz ensemble, Hitt Street Harmony. For two years, I had the pleasure to work with some of the hardest working singers in the School of Music. The many meaningful performances and discussions I shared with this group will stay with me forever. In addition to my assistantship, I was blessed with fantastic professors that were incredibly interesting and complex. Each of them pushed me in ways I didn't know I needed to be pushed, while also inspiring me by simply being excellent at their craft, whether it be conducting, vocal performance, musicology, or music analysis.
As I adventured through Sweden and Estonia with my best friends, I could only feel grateful for the extra time to create memories, and also say goodbye. Some of the highlights from our time in Sweden include the three concerts (performed in Malmö, Lund, and Stockholm), the after parties with the Swedish choirs, seeing a Led Zeppelin cover band, having lunch in the park, and watching the sunrise almost every morning. The unusually warm weather we experienced while we were there only made it easier to fall in love with the picturesque moments of friendship and fellowship.
By the time the tour concluded in Estonia, I was a hot mess of emotions. Since I had previously toured Tallinn, Estonia with Millikin's University Choir, a flood of memories came rushing into my conscience. Again, these feelings of humility, gratefulness, sadness, and pride continued to tug at my core. I realized my pursuit of happiness, my dreaming, my drive, and my music had put me in the position to travel internationally, meet new and interesting people, and create long-lasting memories. My music, my music, gave me this gift. A gift that allows me to live my fullest life possible.