Student Spotlight: Nissa Anderson

Nissa Anderson

Nissa Anderson
Major: Music

Nissa Anderson can't recall a time when she wasn't interested in music.

“My dad has worked from home since I was about 3 years old,” she said. “He always had a tendency to blast Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eric Clapton while working, and when I was little I’d run around and dance to it. One of my older brothers was given a guitar for his birthday when I was about 5, and I spent a lot of time begging him to teach me something.

“When I had the opportunity to choose and learn how to play an instrument at school in the fourth grade, I jumped at the chance. I chose the violin and have been playing ever since, plus teaching myself guitar, piano and mandolin on the side. I played in the orchestra at my high school all four years, and somewhere around my sophomore year I realized that music had become such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t see myself being happy years down the road without it.”

Although Anderson was familiar with College of DuPage, as one of her brothers attended COD, she had wanted to attend a four-year school. But when she applied for and was named a Presidential Scholar – an impressive award that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD's Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society – the choice was easy.

“As a Presidential Scholar and an honors student, I knew that I would earn credentials that would give me an edge when competing for scholarships,” she said. “In this economy, that’s extremely important to me. Private universities are expensive, and COD was a great way to keep on track academically while still being able to save money. I also enjoyed how flexible COD was and how I could choose classes to fit my schedule.”

Anderson earned her associate’s degree in only 14 months and transferred Lake Forest College, where she entered as a junior and is participating in a licensure program that will allow her to earn not only a Bachelor in Music Education but a Master of Arts in Teaching and subsequent teaching licensure.

“Lake Forest’s music education curriculum is also brand new and very rigorous, and I’ll be one of the first two graduates,” she said. “The curriculum is almost the equivalent of two and a half majors, with a double major in music and education plus six music education-specific method courses, whereas other teaching majors like math or history typically only have one or two. When you add to that the master’s level coursework I am completing for my education courses as well as participating in chamber orchestra, choir, West African drumming, and an extracurricular piano trio, I’m a very busy girl!”

After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Anderson has several paths to explore, such as becoming certified in the Suzuki Method for violin instruction and teaching private lessons.

“I’d love to ultimately play in the Chicago Symphony, but I know it’s going to take a lot of practicing to get there,” she said. “I always thought it would be fun to perform in pit orchestras for musical productions, so that's an option I’m considering as well.”

More about the Music program