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  • Nick Huff '15

Nick Huff ’15

Class Year



Music — Vocal Performance

Current home

Rochester, New York

Current position

Opera Singer, Master’s Candidate at The Eastman School of Music

Nick Huff never wanted a typical job working 9 to 5 in a cubicle. So he majored in music, with an emphasis in vocal performance. He earned is degree in 2015, graduating magna cum laude. He is now an opera singer living in Rochester, New York, and pursuing his master’s degree in voice performance and literature at The Eastman School of Music.

“I still go to school because, in opera, you cannot merely remain a bachelor to find success. I guess you have to be a master! Or so they tell me,” Mr. Huff jokes.

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“Singing for your student or professional career is a privilege that other people can’t really appreciate, and ignorant as they are, often casually joke about. But what they don’t realize while they do data entry or work singularly to make money — probably for someone else who doesn’t actually work but rather ‘owns’ — is that they are not doing what humans are supposed to do.

“Studying philosophy, particularly Aristotle, at Carthage showed me that singing doesn’t build an empire or make more money necessarily, but it does let us express, which is one thing humans are naturally supposed to do, and in singing we express especially well and deeply. Instead of repressing my desires and suffering ‘the daily grind’ in a cubicle, I fulfill myself every day when I go to work or school to sing, and if I’m skilled enough, I’ll help to fill someone else up as well.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“Our voice teachers prepared my vocal technique and style for the next level of work and put me into one of the best graduate programs in the world. The small classes and lack of overwhelming competition I would have faced at conservatories swelled my resume with roles I wouldn’t get anywhere else. Carthage also prepares the mind with classical philosophy and literature, which made me a better person. Carthage didn’t simply hand me a piece of paper, sagging as it was handed over. They made me a full person capable of seizing what I need and want out of life, not merely pointing to dues paid in the form of a degree.”

How has your liberal arts education helped you?

“When I was a sophomore, I nearly died of blood loss due to a freak complication of my Crohn’s disease. As a non-believer I expected to be terribly afraid of dying, but actually I felt really at peace in the moments when the hospital staff weren’t sure if they had enough replacement blood to keep me alive. I thought, ‘You know, I have lived a good life. I’ve always been comfortable, I learned to be comfortable with who I am, and I have embraced philosophy and led an examined, worthwhile life, even if it should go on longer.’

“Other schools do not emphasize this kind of deep thinking or self-aware, sober thinking, and at another school, I might not have had the comfort they gave me. Western Heritage is often griped over and bemoaned, but it is the catalyst for an intellectual awakening that can literally bring you comfort and confidence in the most dire situation.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Work hard. It’s easy to be distracted by any number of things, from social diversions to personal ego, but remember why you’re there.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“My favorite Carthage memories center around all kinds of experiences: Driving through blizzards for taco ingredients. Riding my friend around like a TonTon from ‘Star Wars.’ Singing for WWII veterans on their way to pay their respects at the national monument. Having the final musical word at Commencement by singing a wonderful Irish tune, ‘The Parting Glass’. Doing a pro bono gig for a man on his death bed whose dying wish was to hear a barbershop quartet.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite, but whether I have a representative anecdotal favorite or not, they all shaped me to be who I am and I’m proud to be that individual.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Peer-reviewed student and faculty pedagogy projects have been presented at the International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities, the International Symposium on the Phenomenon of the Singing Voice, and the Estill World Voice Symposium at Harvard University.

    • Carthage voice faculty and students are active in voice science research, utilizing Voce Vista and Voice Print software in our voice lab setting. Students have presented their projects at regional, national, and international conferences.

    • The Carthage Chamber Music Series brings four internationally renowned ensembles to campus each year to interact with music students. Performers have included Anonymous 4, the Imani Winds, the Deadalus Quartet, the Manhattan Brass, and the Waverly Consort. 

    • Carthage music ensembles have been selected to premiere new and commissioned works, providing our students with meaningful opportunities to collaborate with nationally and internationally recognized composers such as Ola Gjeilo, Stacy Garrop, Patrick Long, Tom Vignieri, and Alex Shapiro.

    • Carthage students have been selected through competitive regional, national, and international auditions for exceptional young artist development programs, such as the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, Rocky Ridge Music Festival, and the Open Jar Institute in New York.

    • Carthage voice students are actively involved in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and exceptional Carthage singers have frequently earned state honors in classical and music theatre voice.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …