It may be difficult to navigate your way through a large school such as Penn State. But if you’re like Laura Brown (’14 B.A. Music and Russian, ’M.A. Musicology), you’ll recognize the University is much more than a sea of students looking out for their own best interests. “It’s a sea of individual talents working collaboratively to achieve really incredible things,” she notes.
Brown herself achieved many of those “incredible things” during a noteworthy Penn State career that included performing at Carnegie Hall, presenting her own research in Russia, and earning dual degrees PLUS a master’s degree in only five years of study, through the School of Music’s Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Program. She was the college marshal for both the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of the Liberal Arts, and served as Liberal Arts’ commencement speaker, a particularly special honor for a newly minted alumna.
A native of Waterford, Pennsylvania, Brown was a Schreyer Honors College Scholar whose many awards included the Evan Pugh Senior Scholar Award, a Creative Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Architecture, and the Brewster Memorial and Presser Foundation scholarships from the School of Music. A percussionist and timpanist, she was the 2012 winner of the School of Music’s Concerto Competition and received Jury Honors Recognition in fall 2011 and spring 2012. A highlight of her academic career was presenting a paper at the Window to the World International Symposium in St. Petersburg, Russia, in spring 2014.
In the School of Music, her mentors included Charles Youmans (her thesis advisor) and Marica Tacconi. “They both have supported me unfailingly since the day I first told them I wanted to be a musicologist,” she says, adding that Dan C. Armstrong also served as an important mentor in her percussion studies.
According to Brown, participation in the IUG program has prepared her for further schooling—she will enroll at Yale this fall to pursue a Ph.D. in music history, with Russian music a major focus of her studies. Ultimately she plans to pursue a career as a professor of musicology.
With so many honors and activities on her résumé, it’s easy to wonder how Brown can “do it all.” Her answer is simple: plan ahead. “Of course, these plans will almost definitely change, but it’s better to have them laid out first than realize at the last minute that the ship has sailed for what you really want to do.”
It’s safe to say Laura Brown will be at the helm of whatever ship she chooses. We wish her the best of luck in her future studies and career!