Senior Spotlight Q&A
Maura Grace – Fine Arts Academic Senator
Throughout her experience at Drake, music education major Maura Grace has been extremely involved both on and off campus. Each year in her involvement in groups such as Drake Choir, Greek Life, and Drake Opera, she continued to take on higher positions that required more responsibility. This year, Maura has served Drake University as its fine arts academic senator.
What was your first position on student senate, and what did you take away from that experience?
Maura: “My senate experience is not as extensive as other members around the table. This is my first, and last, year on student senate. As a music education student, promotion of the arts is very important to me. I am a member of the theatre and music department, heavily involved in organizations and academics on both ends. I wanted to make a difference for my school and represent my peers on a campus-wide scale. I feel I offer a fresh perspective as a fine arts student because I am involved in organizations within the fine arts, but also outside the walls of FAC. I believe this has made me a well-rounded Drake student, and also a viable candidate to serve as the fine arts academic senator. Throughout my four years at Drake, I honestly do not think I was ready to serve as the fine arts senator until I was a junior or senior. As an upperclassman, I have the experience and knowledge of campus, Des Moines, and the fine arts community at Drake. I can speak from experience and not assumptions. I have created relationships with peers, faculty, and staff that I have cultivated and fostered over a three-year period of time. I believe this maturity has served well around the table and has made me confident in serving as a representative of my peers.”
What is your favorite project you have accomplished through student senate?
Maura: “My greatest accomplishment while serving on senate in this short year has been putting together the first annual Drake Fine Arts Day. This was a lot of my senate goals combined into one and it could not have been done without the help of Xavier Quinn. Senate has opened a lot of doors for me, including serving on the Student Music Advisory Committee (SMAC), Friends of Drake Arts Board (FDA), the Arts and Science Executive Board, and the Arts and Sciences Academic Integrity Board. The weekly Thursday meeting in the fishbowl doesn’t come close to the obligations of senate (which can be a common misconception). One of my goals that I worked on in SMAC and FDA was cross-departmental collaboration (Music, Theatre, and Visual Art) and creating more awareness of our arts culture on campus. Drake Fine Arts Day made this large goal come alive. Student performances were scheduled all over campus throughout the day and were enjoyed while students were studying in Olmsted, walking across Helmick Commons, or eating lunch at Hubbell. I wanted this to be a positive and low stress experience for performers and students alike. I hope that the next fine arts senator can continue this tradition and the legacy of arts promotion on campus.”
How have you grown through your involvement in student senate?
Maura: “I view myself as a stronger leader after serving on senate. I have been in several organizations including serving as president of our collegiate chapter of The American Choral Directors Association and co-founding and music directing the co-ed a cappella group, Fermata the Blue. In these leadership positions, I was working with my peers in the fine arts. Senate has pushed me as a leader to work with others who are not in the arts, and learn from my peers in other colleges. It has opened my eyes to the incredible work others are doing all over campus and has made me truly appreciate the creative culture that is fostered at Drake University. Serving on senate has made me proud to be a Drake student and call myself a Bulldog. There are many skills that I have taken into my student teaching that I have learned through senate. I believe I have become more of a team player and collaborator, and have learned ways to eloquently share my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions on important matters.”
Do you have any advice for students considering getting involved in student senate?
Maura: “For those questioning involvement in student senate, do not think of it as student government in high school. I participated in student government in high school, and this is nothing like it, nor should it be. You are representing your peers as a representative and advocate for Drake University. Students on senate, I believe, are held to a higher standard to fulfill the mission statement, help others fulfill that statement, and live out their Drake experience. I am so thankful to have joined senate, and it has been a huge honor representing the School of Fine Arts. Do not be afraid to join senate just because there is a formal election process. Let that be a challenge to push yourself to be an advocate for yourself and what you choose to represent.
To those who are not on senate, or do not really have any interest, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and attend a Thursday night meeting. Our senate meetings take place every Thursday night in the fish bowl in the library at 9pm. Many students claim that senate does not do a lot or doesn’t care, but we do, and we can prove it to you. So stop a senator in Olmsted, check out our office hours, utilize social media, and attend Thursday meetings – you may be surprised by what you see.”
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