When graduating senior Miranda Stark found out she had been selected as the Outstanding Graduating Senior, she was honored and excited. Growing up all around the midwest and graduating high school in Kansas City, Stark is now thrilled to be completing her music education and woodwind performance degrees.
For Stark, proximity to the mountains was one of the biggest draws after she discovered the music program at CU. “I’ve always loved the mountains, so getting to go to school at a place where I could be around them was really appealing to me. I found out about the music program here, and it seemed like a really great fit for me.”
Music has comprised an important part of Stark’s life since fifth grade. Now a skilled saxophonist, she actually got her start on a different instrument.
“I originally wanted to play the saxophone in fifth grade,” Stark explains. “I tried it out, but it was so big with so many keys that it freaked me out. So I played trumpet with just three keys. I wanted to play percussion, but my band director wouldn’t let me and suggested that I try the saxophone. I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t picked up the saxophone.”
As she reflects back on the past years of her undergraduate experience, Stark recalls all of the memorable experiences she has had. “One of my favorite experiences was with a CU jazz ensemble when we went to Costa Rica to perform and teach jazz down there,” she describes. “We traveled all around Costa Rica and performed concerts and then did clinics with youth jazz programs at different schools.”
In fact, Stark is grateful she was able to learn both jazz and classical repertoire at the College of Music— an affordance that she describes as a “rare opportunity.” She is also thankful for being able to work with her saxophone professor, Tom Myer. “He’s been very supportive of me as a musician but more importantly supportive of me as a person apart from the saxophone,” Stark says.
Apart from her outstanding involvement with the College of Music, Stark’s faith plays an important role in her life and her extracurricular pursuits.
“I’m really involved in my church and a lot of things involving faith. For most of my college career, I was really involved in Cru. I took a year off of school between junior and senior year and went with Boulder Cru to Slovakia to start a campus ministry there. It was the best and hardest year of my life but definitely worth it,” Stark reminisces.
She plans to weave this theme of gratitude into her graduation speech this week. “I will be speaking about gratitude and how focusing on the things we have to be thankful for can make our lives more meaningful and enjoyable.”
After graduating, Stark plans to move home for a few months before making moving out of the state. “I’m moving down to Texas to join the staff of Box 7 Ministries, which is a Christian ministry for drum corps students,” Stark says with excitement.
You can watch Stark’s speech to graduating students at the College of Music Fall Commencement on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 11 a.m. in Grusin Music Hall.