Jenny Steiner (B.A.’09, Organizational Communication)
How were you involved on campus?
Orientation Student Leader ‘06, Homecoming Coordinator ‘07, Student Orientation Coordinator ‘08, Student Worker in SALP Office (now Student Engagement), Bookstore Employee (events team), Campus Activities Board Movie Coordinator, Western Student Association Public Relations Chair, Drive Safe Kalamazoo Volunteer
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Current Location: Minneapolis, MN
Job Title and Company/Organization: Coordinator, Student Academic Success Services at the University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities
Favorite campus memory: I have so many fond memories of my time at WMU, it is difficult to name simply one. However, one that comes to mind involves not being on campus, but being with those from campus. As a student orientation leader, we spent two months together as a team welcoming new students. To celebrate the end of orientation, the entire team of orientation leaders and professional staff made the journey to South Haven to watch the sunset on Lake Michigan. While out on the pier, the 36 orientation leaders sang the fight song, the alma mater, and other “camp” songs of the summer. It was the perfect close on our time as a team and will always serve as a special memory.
One of the many reasons I love Western is the small school feel on a large campus. Even with so many majors and classes to choose from, the chance of taking classes with friends or people who become friends is likely. I also loved that Western was known for its amazing performing and fine arts programs. I was heavily involved in arts programs growing up, specifically participating in dance, singing and theater.
Although I wasn’t going to major in the fine arts, I wanted to have access to great art and performances. As a student, I attended numerous student dance performances, and musicals like The Donkey Show and West Side Story, all performed by WMU students. I also took full advantage of the ticket discounts at Miller Auditorium and subscribed to the Broadway tours that passed through Kalamazoo.
When I was entering my final semester at Western, I only needed 12 credits to graduate. I know many students wouldn’t choose to add more credits, but I did! I decided that I would take Intro to Jazz in WMU’s Department of Dance. On the first day, I walked in and saw one of my dear friends, Steph in the class (we were orientation coordinators together and had no idea we both registered for the class!), and we were also classmates with the first-year musical theater students. I learned so much from the class and loved getting to bring dance back into my life. It sort of felt like being back preparing for a show, spending time outside of class working on choreography and connecting in a supportive way with classmates.
Near the end of the semester, our instructor held 1:1 conferences with each student enrolled in the class. I remember speaking with her and receiving some positive feedback about my skills. She then asked, “You’re a musical theater major, right?” I beamed, “No, I’m a wannabe musical theater major!”
For all of the accolades I experienced in other classroom spaces, this was the highest compliment. I will always cherish being thought of, even for just a moment, as a student pursuing the arts professionally.
Taking dance in my final semester showed me that it's OK to stretch your comfort zone, to get back into hobbies we may have lost for a few years, and that it's important to build in moments of movement and fun into your learning. I recommend taking dance any semester, but saving dance for my last semester helped ease stress as I neared graduation and went through interview processes for graduate school.
So, thank you to the WMU Department of Dance!