McKenna Rakestraw

Class Year

’17

Hometown

Appleton, Wis.

Major(s)

Music

Minor(s)

Secondary Education and Spanish

Before coming to Carthage, McKenna Rakestraw couldn’t have told you the difference between a major and minor chord, but now she is majoring in music with hopes of becoming a high school choir conductor after graduation.

“I have come so far and learned so much,” she said. “I’m not scared to follow my heart and because of that, I’ve been able to take part in some amazing experiences.”

She has toured the United States and Spain with the Carthage Choir, and traveled to Hungary and the Czech Republic to study Kodaly teaching methods.

“My favorite moment so far was traveling to Spain. Our choir is a close-knit group, but there is something about traveling in coach buses, exploring the historical Spanish cities, and singing in timeless cathedrals that make the friendships and bonds even closer. It was on this trip that we not only became a better choir, but a family.”

Because of McKenna’s campus involvement and classes within her major, she’s been able to meet caring professors and make life-long friends.

“When I was questioning which career path to choose, my high school choir director asked me, ‘Why close a door before exploring it?’ Now, I couldn’t imagine being in any other field.”

“The biggest surprise so far would have to be where I am today. I came into college with the thought that I was going to be an elementary education major, but I had always had an interest in music. Before coming to Carthage, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a major and a minor chord. I have come so far and learned so much.”

McKenna Rakestraw, ’17

Career goal

“As a licensed music educator, I would able to teach students K-12, but my dream would be to conduct a high school choir. It would be such a pleasure being able to guide students in creating breathtaking music.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“I have loved and admired every professor I have had here at Carthage. The most influential one, though, is Dimitri Shapovalov. He is an extremely intellectual individual, knowing more about music history then I ever will, and is unbelievably gifted in aural skills and piano. Beyond being a qualified professor, he also cares for his students. Prof. Shapovalov will take time out of his day and personally ask his students how they are doing. During my freshman year, I mentioned to him that I was writing my own music. Excitedly, he offered to help me record it! I am now working on recording my third song with him.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class this year is General Music Methods. It is in this class that I am not only learning what it means to be a qualified teacher, but I am able to put it into practice. Weekly, I teach a mini lesson and observe teachers in the Kenosha/Racine community. These experiences allow me to gain practice for my future career while I get even more excited for what is to come in my professional future.”

Campus involvement

“I am currently involved in Carthage Choir, Lambda Kappa, and Alpha Chi Omega while also being a second year resident assistant.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class since I started college has been Aural Skills. The course involved ear training and learning how to analyze, as well as how to transcribe, the music that we heard.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I have been blessed with so many opportunities here at Carthage. First, I have been able to travel! During my freshman J-Term, I traveled to Hungary and Czech Republic to learn about Kodaly teaching methods. Being in Carthage Choir has also taken me touring in Midwestern states and Spain. I also have two on campus jobs. I am a barista at Seattle’s Best Coffee and a resident assistant in Johnson Hall. Above all else, I have loved meeting caring professors and making life-long friends.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“My favorite moment so far was traveling to Spain with Carthage Choir. Our choir is a close-knit group, but there is something about traveling in coach buses, exploring the historical Spanish cities, and singing in timeless cathedrals that makes the friendships and bonds even closer. It was on this trip that we not only became a better choir, but a family.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is anywhere by the beach. When life gets stressful, it is pleasant just sitting there soaking up the sun, feeling the breeze, and clearing my mind.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise so far would have to be where I am today. I came into college with the thought that I was going to be an elementary education major, but I had always had an interest in music. Before coming to Carthage, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a major and a minor chord. I have come so far and learned so much.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“My 8-year-old self would be a little confused since I wanted to be a princess or pediatrician. However, I’m not scared to follow my heart and because of that, I’ve been able to take part in some amazing experiences.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“When I was questioning which career path to choose, my high school choir director asked me, ‘Why close a door before exploring it?’ Now, I couldn’t imagine being in any other field.”