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.

After auditioning for Carthage’s music program, Jana received five scholarships, including a competitive Presidential Scholarship. She is glad to continue performing at Carthage as a member of the Wind Orchestra and Pep Band, and she is excited to pursue a career as a music educator. 

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“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!””

Jana Paulsen, ’26

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?”

Faculty mentors

“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. 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.”

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!”

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!”

Golden opportunities

“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!”

Internships or 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.”

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!”

Favorite memory

“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!”

Advice for other students in your major?

“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!”