At Oklahoma Wesleyan University, students have the advantage of small class sizes and personalized attention from professors. For Klaire Linick, the only Music Education major in her graduating class, this was especially true.
Born in Tulsa, Linick grew up in Kansas, attending a small Christian high school. Her earliest introduction to OKWU came when recruiters visited her classroom, but she doesn’t remember much about the pitch. “[OKWU] was sort of on my radar, but I wouldn’t say I was really considering it until later,” she said.
What was she considering? Anything musical. Music was always a passion, but the opportunities to be involved at a high level were somewhat limited in Linick’s hometown. Still, she did her best. “I was definitely involved in anything and everything that was offered musically, anything that I could get my hands on,” she said.
“Probably the greatest part, to me, is the community. Being able to work so closely with my professors, especially in music. Developing that relationship over four years… you get really close to somebody when you meet with them one on one for a lesson, every week, for four years.”
When it was time to make her college decision, Linick chose to attend a smaller school closer to her family in Kansas. Her boyfriend, Dalton – now her husband – was attending OKWU, but she was determined that she wasn’t going to end up there just on his account.
What ended up sealing the decision to transfer, Linick said, was that she finally realized what she wanted to do with music: teach. After one particularly frustrating music lesson, she called her mother, and her mother posed her a question: “Why don’t you become a music teacher?
It made sense. “I just remember it finally clicking, having that piece,” she said. “Okay, I could see myself doing this, and having so much fun with it, and making it way more fun.”
And with her college in Kansas not offering a music education program, OKWU sprang to mind. She scheduled an interview to see if it was a fit.
“I instantly fell in love with the pure look of campus, the rooftops, the architecture of it all,” Linick said. “It’s just so peaceful.”
When she interviewed with Dr. Jonathan Stewart, head of the music department, things began falling into place. She auditioned for him on the spot, and he responded by offering her a scholarship, right there during the interview.
“Klaire truly represents one of the great successes coming out of the OKWU music program,” Stewart said. “She arrived here with limited musical background from high school, but also a lot of passion. She put her heart and soul to its study, and has grown into an astounding singer, musician, and music educator. I am very honored and proud to have had the opportunity to teach and work with this remarkable young lady.”
With scholarships now on the table, Linick saw all signs pointing to OKWU. “Really in my mind, that was God opening these huge doors that I didn’t even really know that I wanted opened until they were right in front of me,” she said.
“I can do this for the rest of my life, and enjoy it, and impact kids.”
Now, a week after graduating, Linick can’t imagine having made any other choice. She’s grateful for the education she’s been able to get in Bartlesville, as well as the unique relationships she’s formed. “Probably the greatest part, to me, is the community,” she said. “Being able to work so closely with my professors, especially in music. Developing that relationship over four years… you get really close to somebody when you meet with them one on one for a lesson, every week, for four years.”
She and her husband graduated during OKWU’s unique, virtual ceremony – which Linick took part in, helping Dr. Stewart organize the virtual choir performance. And while she understands the necessity of the changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she can’t help being a little disappointed in how things turned out.
“That has been very hard to cope with,” she said. “I really didn’t get to appreciate my time, or the experiences of the last of everything, the last finals, the last midterms, whatever it may be.”
Both Linick and her husband have accepted jobs at Kane Elementary School, here in Bartlesville, and they’re excited to begin the next stage of their lives. “Our goal has always been to just have a family, have jobs that are conducive to family life, because we really care about that,” she said.
She’s especially excited to take the passions that were nurtured at OKWU out into the world. “I can do this for the rest of my life, and enjoy it, and impact kids.”
For more information about OKWU’s Music program, click here.