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…the atmosphere of Bethel is vibrant, caring and friendly. I have had the best experience here…
Claire Unruh ’12

Outcomes

Careers

  • Teaching (all levels, including private instruction)
  • Performance
  • Church music
  • Opportunities in the music business and arts management

Alumni

Karenza Kroeker ’03

Karenza graduated with degrees in music education and German. After working in Quirnbach, Germany, and an elementary school teacher in inner-city Chicago, she now teaches music at Iowa Mennonite School, a high school in Kalona.

Bethel was not an especially surprising choice for Karenza, since her father and brother were Bethel graduates. What was more surprising was her decision to compound her music and German majors with teaching certification. Despite her initial “half-interested attitude” in music education, her professors persistently challenged her to stick with it.

Karenza’s year in Germany as a nanny for the family of a Bethel graduate allowed her to put her German language skills to the test. It also prepared her for an even bigger cross-cultural experience the next year. While she was in Germany, a friend told her about a position opening up at the Chicago Mennonite Learning Center, a K-8 school on the south side of Chicago.

Karenza believes her time in Chicago helped her discover where her true interests lay. “I think one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t always figure out what you want to do until you figure out what you don’t want to do,” she says. “And instead of sitting fearful in the sidelines, jumping in headfirst will get you somewhere and you’ll be a stronger person for taking on a challenge that you might not think you are cut out for.”

After a year teaching in Chicago, Karenza became aware of a music faculty position opening up at Iowa Mennonite School. She remembered singing there as a member of the Bethel College Concert Choir and being impressed by the school. She applied for the job and, to her surprise, was hired. Now that she is teaching music at IMS, Karenza is grateful to her Bethel College professors for their attention and encouragement.

“People like [professors] Bill Eash, Kathryn Kasper, Karen Schlabaugh, Don Kehrberg and Merle Schlabaugh all impacted me by counsel and model,” says Karenza. “I still contact them occasionally with questions, and I still feel like they care about my well-being and future.”

Susan Gaeddert ’00

Susan graduated with a degree in music and went on to doctoral studies in collaborative piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her graduate school experience has shown that even though she moved into a specialized field, a broad-based liberal arts education was critical to her success.

At Bethel, Susan studied piano with Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music. She had many opportunities to refine her skills as both an accompanist and a soloist. In 1998, Susan applied for and received a Bethel research grant to write a paper on the Op. 87 preludes and fugues of Dmitri Shostakovich. She also gave a solo recital annually starting with her sophomore year, and accompanied many other instrumentalists and vocalists in their recitals.

After graduating, Susan was accepted into the University of Wisconsin School of Music. She completed two M.M. degrees – piano performance and pedagogy; collaborative piano – and earned her D.M.A. in collaborative piano. Susan recalls that when she began graduate school she was intimidated by the size and bureaucratic nature of the program. After a few weeks, though, she was confident that her liberal arts education at Bethel had “more than prepared” her.

“I had more experience in writing, critical thinking and teaching than the other UW students who had come from larger music schools and conservatories,” Susan said. “I had to write a thesis for my pedagogy degree and [once I started] the doctorate, I had to do a significant amount of research and writing.

“As a music major at Bethel, I had to do a variety of music-related things apart from solo piano music, like teaching, accompanying, conducting, singing in ensembles and chamber music. I’m sure that my broad musical background is largely responsible for the graduate assistantships I was awarded at UW (without which I could not have afforded grad school), and for my broad interests as a musician.”