Kelly Stohr is a senior from Clintondale, NY, a small town on the other side of the Hudson River close to New Paltz and Highland.
Tell me about the life of a commuter student at Marist.
Well, I actually sleep over with friends a lot because I’m really involved on campus, but generally with commuting, it’s this tricky thing that you kind of have to work out your freshman year. Once you know the best way to go about it, you start to get used to it. It’s hard because, as I’m sure a lot of people understand, parking availability at Marist isn’t always easy and sometimes I have to get here really early before my classes just to get a spot. But I think the other major struggle of being a commuter student is staying involved on campus, because it’s so easy to say, “Oh no, I’m going home tonight. I’m not going to that late night club meeting, I can’t stay until midnight.” But I’ve found that the most important thing to do is to just stick to it and join a bunch of clubs and make a lot of friends. That’s how you’ll get the most out of your college experience either way, but especially as a commuter. I’m probably more involved on campus than a lot of the residents, actually.
What kinds of clubs and activities are you involved in?
In one word, band. But there are a lot of facets that go into that. I’m involved in the symphonic band, the wind symphony, the orchestra, the marching band, the pep band, and percussion ensemble. On top of that I’m also on the executive board of band as the Vice President, so that keeps me really involved and engaged. So usually after classes are done I’m going straight to some rehearsal or some kind of band meeting.
Aside from that, a separate branch of the band I’m involved in is the music service fraternity. It’s co-ed and it’s called Kappa Kappa Psi, and that’s a huge commitment in itself because we’re a really active chapter. We actually just won the top chapter in our district at our last convention over Spring Break, and we also got nominated for the top chapter in the country, so we’re really excited about that and will be playing in Orlando this summer as a result of that nomination.
What exactly is music service?
It’s hard to explain because at first people think, “wow, so they just distribute the music and that’s it?” but it’s so much more. We do all the "behind the scenes" work that makes the music department run smoothly. It’s grown so much over the past 5 or 10 years, and our dedication to the band has really evolved because up until the past few years we haven’t even had a music building, so we helped find places on campus to rehearse, we loaded and unloaded all the equipment, stayed after to break it down, really just made rehearsals possible. But now we’re blessed with this beautiful new building, so we had to change how we served the band. So one thing we do now is to upload all our sheet music online so everyone always has it at their fingertips. That was a huge undertaking and that was the project that got us the top chapter award. And we still do set up and break down and backstage work at concerts, but we also go out into our community and help struggling music programs in high schools, and we also go to children’s shelters and teach them how to play on our instruments trying to encourage music at a young age. So that’s what we do as Kappa Kappa Psi.
What instruments do you play?
My first instrument was guitar. I started in second grade and I’m classically trained in that. I also play clarinet and string bass, and I also play trombone.
What’s your major/minor and how did you decide on that field?
Coming into Marist I was a Journalism major with a minor in Music, and now I’m the same, but I added a concentration in Advertising. I always loved writing, so journalism was a no-brainer for me. I added advertising because I wanted that visual creativity aspect and the more artistic element in my work. So I thought advertising would be a great addition and would make me more marketable. And now I’m having a blast with my advertising/marketing classes.
How was your transition from high school to Marist?
It was pretty bumpy actually. Marist itself was great, I don’t have any complaints about how Marist handled it or anything like that, but personally, it was kind of hard because I graduated a year early from high school. As much as I’m really glad that I did high school in 3 years, it was still really hard for me being a year younger and less mature than everyone else. And all of that on top of being a commuter student was really hard because I had this ideal image in my head of what college was going to be like, and I really had to adjust that image because I wasn’t your average college student. So I struggled my freshman year, but I came into my sophomore year with a whole new outlook. That’s when I joined the band and got more involved, and that all really helped me.
What is your favorite Marist memory?
There are so many but I guess the broadest one was Marist in Manhattan. It was cool because it really put me out of my element and helped me become more confident in my future profession and myself. Up until that point, I wasn’t really able to have a super involved internship, and while I was there I actually had two, so it really forced me to dive head-first into what I wanted to do. I worked at Fox News, which was crazy. I remember going into work at like 3 am on the morning of the election in tears, and it was a real challenge to just sit there, do my job and not be engaged politically. My other internship was the polar opposite though. I worked at a bridal shop called Stone Fox Bride as their editorial intern. It was this cute little eclectic, not your typical bridal shop down in SoHo, and I would write all of their online content for them. It was really cool, I loved it so much.
My other favorite memory that was super surreal and again, mixed emotions, was marching in the inaugural parade and walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with the Marist band. As far as having pride for my organization and how far we’ve come, that was huge for me. Getting that national recognition was amazing.
Written by Shannon Donohue '17
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Alumni
Academic School: Communication and the Arts
Campus: New York