Alexandrea Rakowski

Alexandrea Rakowski

Class Year



Kenosha, Wisconsin


Music History



“I met my incredible best friends through the music program. I am inspired by each and every one of them and thank Carthage for allowing me to build great relationships!”

Alexandrea Rakowski, ’23

Career goal

“I intend to go to graduate school, receive my master’s, and eventually earn my PhD in Musicology — specializing in music from the Soviet Union, feminism related to Soviet classical music, music during 1930s Stalinism, and composer Sergei Prokofiev. My end career goal is to teach music history/musicology courses centered around Russian music at a collegiate level and freelance for a newspaper/journal and become a published author.”

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

“Professor Dimitri Shapovalov has entirely changed my life. Never have I met someone so supportive and realistic about my aspirations, interests, and life in general. He gave me the warmest welcome when I expressed interest in studying with him, and he even invited me to sit in on his courses before I even applied here. He was there for me like a family member when I underwent multiple surgeries and learned how to be a student while also learning how to live with being chronically ill. I have never learned so much so quickly, nor have I ever been so inspired by someone before.”

Favorite class

“Any music history courses! The topics are rotating, and the most recent was a Russian Music History class. That was very important to me (obviously).”

Campus involvement

“I am doing independent research and applying to fellowships with the support and guidance of Prof. Shapovalov. My current project discusses feminism and Communism in 1930s Soviet Union and the effects of gender in Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” I have also performed with the Carthage Choir and taken voice lessons with Allison Hull, adjunct faculty of music.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I have worked as a box office assistant for the Office of Performing Arts under Tianna Conway as well as an office assistant for Fine Arts under Heidi Baehr! I currently work under Traci Parker in the Office of Marketing and Communications as a writing intern and social media intern, in which I get to run the official Carthage Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages. I have absolutely adored all of my superiors, we have so much fun all around campus.”


“I received the Dorothy G. Goos Scholarship. I am a first-generation college student, and receiving absolutely any scholarship was monumental for me and allows me to pursue my dreams.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“I met my incredible best friends through the music program. I am inspired by each and every one of them and thank Carthage for allowing me to build great relationships!”

Favorite spot on campus

“Anywhere next to the lake!”

Biggest surprise so far

“My biggest surprise was watching myself persevere through my toughest moments yet.”

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

“My 8-year-old self would be so proud and very confused! I have had dreams of becoming an orchestral conductor since I was very young, but life happens and I am so grateful to be where I am now!”

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

“The self design major in music history/musicology is one of less than ten undergraduate programs in musicology in the United States. The degree is typically offered at a graduate level. The self design program itself is incredibly exciting and holds so much freedom. I am biased when I say that studying music history is extremely important and invigorating, but it truly is. It is imperative to keeping classical (and all genres of) music alive. If you are looking into a music history/musicology major at Carthage, I highly recommend also looking into graduate degrees in the same field and exploring the various programs’ course catalog. You have to be your biggest advocate to create a degree, and since musicology is specialized, it is important to become as well-versed in as many aspects of music history as you can. Similarly, try to narrow down a field and push for courses that will best help you and your future. Fight for your education — the faculty will be there for you!”

Why Carthage?

“I was diagnosed with a rare disease after many years of tests, misdiagnoses, and being let down time and time again. I eventually discovered in late 2020 that I had diseases called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Pec Minor Syndrome. As an active clarinetist and conductor becoming increasingly fatigued and in an immense amount of pain, I quickly had to switch career paths in the middle of my sophomore year of college. I fell in love with research, writing, and Soviet music and composer Sergei Prokofiev in particular. I was informed about Carthage’s self design major program and Prof. Shapovalov though a coworker of mine. Everything seemingly fell into place once I found out the potential opportunity I had in front of me. Alas, I transferred to Carthage.”