Graduate Student Stories Transcripts: Dana Arbaugh Varona
Transcript of Dana Arbaugh Varona's video
Around the eighth grade, I was kind of like a lackluster student and, you know, like a, a B student. I wasn't that into school or anything. But I had a really amazing experience in my middle school band. And I had a band director that had inspired to do a better job and to push myself to be better and he got me paired up with a professional horn player who attended Julliard and she was a great, you know, positive female role model for me.
I wanted to do the best I could. I wanted to be the best musician and horn player and I loved making music. It was a really safe space for me throughout high school. I became a much student, more focused. And I realized that was all because of music education. I immediately had my now advisor, my [inaudible 00:00:46] call me on the phone and he talked with me for like an hour about the program and how it could meet my professional goals and what kinds of things I would be involved with there. And just that initial contact from a faculty member early on and the sustained contact and then current students reached out to me, had coffee with me. Told me what kind of classes I should take, should I come here? That was really impressive.
There wasn't any single other school that I interviewed at or applied to that even remotely demonstrated that sort of interest and support. 'Cause I have, you know, three or four people in my office with me. We're so close and we'll read each other's articles when we're looking to submit something for publication. We'll go and grab coffee, or drinks after, you know, a rough day. They're there for emotionally support, academic support and they're, that's just, it's so amazing to have a cohort that cares about you so much and lifts you up.
And then my professors are also fantastic. We're all on a first name basis. They're, it's always an open door policy anytime I want to talk about anything whether it's academic or personal or related to my career. They give me a hundred percent of their time and encouragement and, so it's a really great place to be with really just strong like division support.
In my first semester, I had this compare and contrast article critique, and I was so nervous about it and I didn't know, you know, that I'd be able to rise to the challenge. So I had a really great meeting at the writing center. They helped me make the paper fantastic. I got an A on it, which I was, you know, worried I was going to fail the thing. They spent so much time with me and I still use the lessons I learned in that meeting today. And I try to just recommend them to everyone like you might not think you need a writing workshop but they're fantastic over there. They'll really elevate your paper.
We have teaching interns, you know, from freshman through senior really involved in various roles out in the public schools. As freshman, they start observing. Then as sophomores, they actually work with some homeschool students. Then junior and senior years, they're in the Montgomery Prince George's County Public Schools. So my role has been to go out there and watch them and give them feedback. Mentor them with their lesson plans and just debrief after every week and help them do a little bit better each week and become a more confident and competent teacher. And that is by far like the best part of this degree.