Jana Paulsen

Jana Paulsen

Class Year



Antioch, IL


Music Education

Before college, Jana Paulsen ’26 had a lot of music experience. She performed in a wind ensemble, marching band, jazz band, pit orchestra, symphony orchestra, and the Northern Lake County Honor Band.

She is glad to continue performing at Carthage as a member of the Wind Orchestra and Pep Band.

“The Music Department here at Carthage is pretty phenomenal. All of the music faculty are here for you and your success.”

Jana Paulsen, ’26

Career goal

“I hope to become a music educator for many young musicians out there. My biggest goal is to teach and become a staff/board member in the Drum Corps International organization!”

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

“The Carthage music faculty have greatly impacted me and my career. They are serious about wanting you to succeed and be happy. One of the best things about Carthage being a smaller school is that you are able to build great relationships with your professors, which is very important to me. They are here for you. They want you to succeed. They want you to have fun.

“As an instrumental musician, I am lucky to work with our amazing band director, Professor James Ripley, who is just unbelievable. Prof. Ripley is one the most influential people in my life. He goes above and beyond for his students, colleagues, and the department. He takes time to work with you, whether it’s about a piece of music, choosing classes, or if you are struggling with schoolwork or mental health. Prof. Ripley is fun, caring, passionate, and enthusiastic about the students here at Carthage.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class so far has got to be my Music Pedagogy class. While the class is at 8 a.m., and I am not a morning person by any means, it is super enjoyable and influential. Taught by Professor Peter Dennee, the course allows music education students to get hands-on learning and teaching experience. We get a deep dive into how to educate musicians of all ages, learn more about cultures, and how to lead students in the right direction. I like this class because it gives us a chance to hear from our peers, hear personal stories, and get feedback from other students.”

Campus involvement

“Outside of music, I am involved with the Strategic Communications Team here at Carthage as one of the photographers! Our team works with Carthage Athletics on sports events, and we consist of photographers, graphic designers, social media interns, etc. This job is not only fun, but it also gives me a chance to step outside of the Music Department. The media team is awesome here at Carthage, and I’m so happy I get to work with such creative, talented students!”

Toughest class

“My toughest classes at Carthage are definitely Aural Skills, Music Theory, and Keyboard Skills. These classes are tough because you dive deep into the elements and the ‘math’ of music, which can be difficult to understand. For me personally, Keyboard Skills is very hard because I am not a piano player. My primary instruments are clarinet and saxophone. All these classes are tough, but the great part is that all the faculty who teach these courses are super understanding and helpful. It’s very easy to reach out for help when you need it!”

Internships or on-campus employment

“Over the summer, I worked with our band director as an instrumental music assistant to help prepare for the Carthage Band’s 150th anniversary. The preparation for this year consisted of filing music, recruiting new students, reaching out to alumni, sending out band information, helping music students with lockers, etc. I got a closer look into what a music educator does on a day-to-day basis, which is pretty awesome!

“My other job on campus is working in the Office of Visual and Performing Arts entering data for scholarships, recruiting students, mailing brochures, etc. This job lets you see what goes into the division and how things operate here at the College.

“My third job that relates to my major is Pep Band! Yes, it’s a paying job! And the only thing you do is show up and play your instrument. How cool is that? You get to play your instrument with the coolest people at sports events, such as football games and basketball games. And it’s fun! We play stand tunes and a lot of crowd favorites — ‘Hey, Baby!,’ ‘Party Rock Anthem,’ ‘Runaway Baby,’ ‘Uma Thurman,’ ‘I Want You Back,’ and our school’s fight song and Alma Mater.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“This upcoming J-Term, the Wind Orchestra is going on tour in Japan! I’m super excited because I’ve never been out of the country before, and I’m super pumped to spend it with the people I love the most, my band family!”


“When I auditioned for Carthage, I received five scholarships, including a Presidential Music Scholarship, which is highly competitive. Since being here at Carthage, I received 12 scholarships that have given me a near-full ride tuition, for which I am forever thankful.

“Receiving scholarships has helped with my tuition. Living with a single parent has been tough with my financial situation, and paying tuition for college is what scared my family the most. The scholarships have removed a financial weight off of my family’s shoulders, and I am forever grateful that Carthage gave me this opportunity to continue my education.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“My favorite memories so far are definitely any performance, such as the Christmas Festival. Our Christmas Festival is a beautiful service and performance the entire Music Department showcases every year, and it holds a special place in everyone’s heart. It is life-changing, to say the least. You hear from all the beautiful choirs, the Wind Orchestra, and the Philharmonic Orchestra. It is beyond beautiful, and I look forward to it every year!”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is, of course, the H. F. Johnson Center for Fine Arts. I spend most of my time in this building practicing, attending class, and having rehearsals. But if we’re being serious, Starbucks is the go-to spot!”

Biggest surprise so far

“My biggest surprise so far about college is how quickly time flies by. Sometimes I forget that I’m not a freshman anymore and only have a few years left here at Carthage. But I am staying busy with classes, work, and other activities, so the days are fun-filled. I guess they are right when they say, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’”

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

“My 8-year-old self would fall to the floor laughing if she knew about my current studies/career path. 8-year-old Jana would never imagine herself studying to become an educator and continue with music. All that 8-year-old Jana was thinking at the time was drinking a juice box and playing outside with friends, thinking about what games she wanted to play on the computer after dinner. She never worried about the future or what life was going to look like in a decade. Well, I’m glad to tell 8-year-old Jana that her dreams are becoming a reality, and she’s never been happier about where she’s at in life.”

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

“If you’re a music student looking into a music major and like leadership, go the music education route. It is very tough as you’re a double major in music and education without the double major title. But here at Carthage, you get experiences that you don’t normally get at other schools and actually get hands-on learning/training in music education. Also, the Music Department here at Carthage is pretty phenomenal. All of the music faculty are here for you and your success. Not to mention music students here are excellent and are here for you!”

“Some advice I have for all music majors, especially music education, is to be patient. Music is an extremely tough major and can take a huge toll on you if you aren’t patient with yourself and your education. Keep grinding, push hard, and love what you do, and you’ll find the most success in yourself. And most importantly, have fun!”

Why Carthage?

“Actually, Carthage was not my first choice in school. After getting denied by my top school, Carthage was my safe school to go to. I was super unsure of if I’d like it here, and I doubted a lot of things at first. Fast forward to now, and I’ve never been more happy with where I’m at. Carthage has a ton of great professors and awesome programs for students to succeed. The community is amazing, and I can proudly say I feel supported by every single one of my peers. Also, let’s talk about the view of Lake Michigan! How awesome is that?”