Singers and School Teachers:

YC Alumnae Enjoy Careers in Music

by Chrystal Houston


In 2001, three women graduated from York College with degrees in Music, one planning to teach, two hoping to perform. Now, five years later, all three are pursuing their musical ambitions and meeting with great success.


Briana Donley was known at YC for her outstanding singing voice, but many were unaware of her extreme stage fright. “I was terrified when I received my first solo in the York College Concert Choir. Every time we had a performance, my face would turn bright red and my hands would shake,” said Donley.


After receiving her M.A. in Vocal Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Donley moved to Chicago, where she teaches at Harold Washington College.  She now helps young performers overcome their own issues with stage fright in her classroom. Additionally, Donley performs with da Corneto Opera Company. Currently they are working on the rarely performed Il Poliuto by Gaetano Donizetti.


Annie Keesee has always had a passion for music and for children, so a Music Education degree from York College was a logical choice for her.  Initially, she intended to teach only vocal music, and hoped for an elementary position; however, she was offered a job teaching both vocal and instrumental music in a K-12 position. Undeterred, she sought counsel from her mentors.


In my opinion, the best part of graduating from the music department at YC has been the continued support,” said Keesee. “Every time I've had a situation I was unsure how to approach or a difficult student to teach, Dr. Roush and Dr. Wilson have offered advice, suggestions and support.”  Currently, Keesee is finishing her M.A. in Special Music Education at Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. She plans to use this degree to help special needs children experience the joys of music. She will graduate in May of 2007.


Pamela (Rathe) Miller has been participating in musical performance since her elementary school days. As her voice has grown, so has her audience. As a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Miller has performed for thousands, playing the title role in Gioacchino Rossini's Cinderella; she has also had substantial roles in recent productions of The Magic Flute, Madame Butterfly, Vanessa, and Messiah. Currently, she is touring Europe as a soloist with the Midwest Honor Choir at venues such as the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.


She completed her M.A. in Music from UNL this spring, and is now pursuing a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) degree, which she hopes to earn by 2009. With these degrees, she plans to teach music at the university level, and continue to perform. She will be well prepared for this career. In addition to her performance credits, she is also gaining teaching experience as a graduate teaching assistant. She will continue as a GTA in her doctoral work. She has also recently been awarded the Othmer Graduate Fellowship.


Photos: Pam (Rathe) Miller in Rossini's title role Cinderella.