Dane Feenstra (left) and Nick Munson
Despite leaving the commencement stage with their diploma in hand, some Monmouth College graduates don’t have to say goodbye to the school they love. Students who receive one of Monmouth’s unique Post-Baccalaureate Fellowships can stay for an extra year and continue to work with faculty mentors.
Music major Dane Feenstra and theatre major Nick Munson took advantage of that opportunity during the past academic year, and are being followed by 2012 graduate Jessica Bingham of Lynn Center.
“I will be working in the art gallery with (faculty member) Tyler Hennings, creating art-related informational packets for the department’s incoming and current students and also helping with tours for the department,” said Bingham. “I wanted to do the post-baccalaureate program so that I can be a positive influence to younger art students while building my portfolio.”
After completing her fellowship, Bingham plans to continue her art studies at graduate school.
“This program is a great example of a win-win for the graduate and the college,” said dean of the faculty David Timmerman. “I know all the faculty that have had students selected for a post-bac have enjoyed the work with the graduates and the projects are always fascinating. It is wonderful to see students be able to take the next step up right here on our campus.”
Feenstra worked closely with assistant professor of music Tim Pahel, studying opera.
“I would meet with Professor Pahel once a week, and we would discuss the readings and the clips from operas that I had watched,” said Feenstra, who also wrote a paper that laid out his plans for an opera workshop that he conducted during the spring semester.
Feenstra said he first heard about the Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship program during his junior year. He sees it as a good opportunity for students who are unsure about whether or not they want to attend graduate school.
“Rather than sit at home, you can utilize Monmouth’s resources and further your education and skills within your graduated field,” he said.
Munson combined his interest in theatre with his other creative talents, serving as the publicity manager for the theatre department. He worked on PSAs, general announcements, billboards, flyers and posters while also managing the box office.
During the fall semester, he not only fulfilled his normal duties but also worked on the play “Dog Sees God.” In the spring, he helped with the set for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” In addition to his behind-the-scenes work, he had roles in both productions.
“Working with Nick was a great benefit to the program,” said his mentor, assistant professor theatre Janeve West. “He headed up the press and public relations for each production, which not only gave him some excellent experience, but allowed the faculty to turn their focus to other topics. He was a great addition to the productions.”
Both Feenstra and Munson plan to go to graduate school. Feenstra has been accepted at the University of Iowa and will be attending in the fall to pursue his master’s degree in music. After pursuing internship opportunities, Munson plans to continue his education in the area of arts and administration.
The fellowship recipients agree that being back at Monmouth College has been “weird,” but that the experience has provided them with a great opportunity to further their education and to develop their skills within their chosen fields.
They also believe that not many students are aware of the Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship, and they hope their positive experiences will help change that.
“I would definitely suggest it to another student, because you see a different side of Monmouth College,” said Munson. “You also grow a greater appreciation for the faculty and what they do here. You don’t realize the work they all put in outside of teaching until you are helping.”