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Alumni Profiles

ONU Music Graduates: Inspiring Performances of a Lifetime

ONU music majors have been accepted into prestigious graduate schools such as the San Francisco Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University, and SUNY in Buffalo. They’ve followed their dreams to play clarinet in the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight, win a starring role in a Cleveland Institute of Music opera production, open a thriving piano studio in Chicago, and work with famous drummers as the artist relations manager for Ludwig-Musser Percussion. They are using their musical gifts to make differences in people’s lives, serving as music ministers in churches and teaching music in public and private schools across the nation.

Here are just a few examples of some of the things our graduates are doing:


Jordan Loyd, BM '17

Tenor Jordan Loyd is a recent graduate of Ohio Northern University, earning a Bachelor of Music in voice performance. While at ONU, he was an active member of the music and theatre departments, and he participated in the Opera Workshop ensemble and the Chamber Singers ensemble. He was fortunate to have consistently been a division finalist and winner in Ohio NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competitions. Jordan is attending the University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music on a full-tuition scholarship. He would like to thank all of the professors at ONU who gave him the room to grow as a person as well as the attention and care to grow as an artist. 

Lindsay Hastings, BM '17

Lindsay teaches music at St. Francis Xavier School in Medina, Ohio. Her teaching responsibilities include general music for nearly 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and she also teaches 5-8 band, which meets at various times before and after school.

I loved being a music student at ONU. The department became a family to me, and I enjoyed participating in instrumental ensembles (being a clarinet major) as well as choral ensembles. I am also thankful for the knowledge of my professors, as well as the teaching experience that I gained as a student. Without ONU, I would not be the music teacher I am today.

Maggie Bittner, BM '17

Maggie Bittner is the director of bands at Anna Local Schools in Anna, Ohio. There, she is responsible for directing the marching band; high school concert band; sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade bands; pit orchestra; pep band; and jazz band. She also teaches second- and fifth-grade general music. Maggie received her Bachelor of Music in music education in 2017 and graduated with honors. During her time at Ohio Northern, she performed trombone with the Marching Band, Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Brass Ensemble and Jazz Band. Maggie was the assistant student conductor for both Symphony Orchestra and Wind Orchestra. She was a part of, and held officer positions for, Tau Beta Sigma, Delta Omicron and the Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association. One of her favorite pastimes was working as the instrumental music librarian for Wind Orchestra and Jazz Band.

Ohio Northern gave me an education unlike anywhere else. By starting field experience during my first year, I was able to get into a classroom and receive hands-on experience teaching from the start. Additionally, conducting two of ONU’s large group ensembles gave me confidence that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. However, the best part about ONU is the relationships I was able to build. I wasn’t known as a number. My professors not only knew me by name but also really knew me. They knew my strengths, my weaknesses, my likes and dislikes, and, most importantly, they were invested in my success. Even now, my professors and colleagues check in on me regularly and want to see me succeed. I have gained lifelong friendships, mentors and family from my time at ONU.

Steven Slusher, BM ’03

Steven Slusher has been the director of choral and vocal activities at Yakima Valley College in Yakima, Wash., since 2013. After graduating from Ohio Northern University, Steven attended grad school Southern Illinois University. He was principal singer with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for 10 years before joining the faculty at Yakima Valley College, whose College Chorus now includes 22 members. Steven also is involved with the local theatre scene; he recently served as vocal coach for the Warehouse Theatre Company’s production of Godspell.

Read more about Slusher here.


Mark Blowers, BM ’13, BFA ’13

Since graduating ONU with a BM in music education and a BFA in musical theatre, Mark has done more than 20 shows in five states and two countries. He has performed off-Broadway in shows such as Fabulous! and The Love Note, toured Singapore in 2013 with My Fair Lady, and shared the stage with the legendary Leslie Uggams, who made history as the first African-American woman to play the title role in Mame in a professional production. In 2016, Mark makes his New York City debut as a choreographer with the new musical Marilyn Exposed.

Michael Oberhauser, BM ’07

Michael Oberhauser's compositions have been performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; on the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU 88.5; and by Opera Alterna, the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra, the Ohio Northern University Singers and the opera department at the Catholic University of America. Michael is a composer from Maumee, Ohio, who now lives in Washington, D.C. After earning his Bachelor of Music in composition from Ohio Northern University, where he studied with Dr. MJ Zank, he moved to D.C. to attend the Catholic University of America, where he studied with Andrew Simpson. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland. He studied there with Lawrence Moss and Mark E. Wilson. Michael also is a frequent music director, and he currently teaches the Graduate Aural Skills Review at the Catholic University of America.

Greg Decker, BM ’05

Greg Decker is an assistant professor of music theory at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. His research focuses on the analysis of opera, especially systems of meaning in Baroque music dramas. He has published or forthcoming articles on this and related topics in Music Theory Online, IntégralThe Opera Journal, and I Concentrate on You: A Companion to the Music and Lyrics of Cole Porter (forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press). He has presented his research at numerous national and regional meetings. At Bowling Green, Greg regularly teaches the first-year theory/aural skills sequences and graduate courses in Schenkerian analysis and other music-analytical topics. After earning a BM in music education from Northern, Greg earned both his master's degree and Ph.D. in music theory from Florida State University.



Avery Sujkowski, BM ’16

Avery received his Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. He spent most of his time at Northern studying operatic repertoire and keeping in touch with extracurricular programs outside of the University, such as the CCM Summer Opera Studio and the University of Toledo Opera Ensemble. During his commencement ceremony, he was fortunate enough to sing the national anthem and graduate cum laude. Immediately after graduation, he spent several weeks in Italy with the International Young Artists Project studying Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” Since then, he has performed as General Novikovich in Lehár’s “The Merry Widow” with the University of Toledo Opera Ensemble. Avery is now pursuing his MM with The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, majoring in opera performance.

Andrew Schultz, BM ’06, BSBA ’06

Andrew Schultz is the director of music programs at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio. In addition to leading the department, Andrew teaches courses in voice and conducting, and recent tours by his choirs include Colorado and Nashville. As the artistic director for the Defiance Community Cultural Council, Andrew coordinates five arts series in the community. In addition to his BM in music business and his BSBA in management from Northern, Andrew earned a master's degree in choral conducting and MBA in management from Bowling Green. Andrew also has accepted a position as a doctorate of musical arts candidate in choral music at USC Thornton School of Music. He was also awarded a teaching assistantship with the USC Chamber Singers and assistant to Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe. 

Lindsey Newlove, BM ’10

Lindsay Newlove loves her students at Crestview Local Schools in Convoy, Ohio, and they love her. She teaches K-6 general music, directs sixth-grade Swing Choir, and teaches her fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students how to play guitar. The Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) even recognized her outstanding work – honoring her with the Ohio Music Education Association’s Outstanding Music Educator of the Year Award” at the OMEA State Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in February 2015. At ONU, she was an associate conductor of the University Singers and assistant conductor of the Women’s Chorus. She served as treasurer and president of ONU’s chapter of the Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association (OCMEA). She also traveled to Estonia and Finland with the University Singers.

I was fortunate to be taught by professors who loved sharing their knowledge and passion for music.  They supported me throughout my four years at ONU, through my job search, and into my first years of teaching," she says.  "Now, I truly love each minute that I get to spend with my students.  Whether it be singing, dancing, composing, or playing instruments, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share my love of music with children.

Hannah Snyder, BM '12

After graduating from ONU in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Music in music education, Hannah began her teaching career at Upper Scioto Valley schools, teaching K-6 general music and 5-12 band. After 2-and-a-half years at USV, she accepted the position of director of bands at Lima Senior High School. At Lima Senior, Hannah is responsible for teaching Marching Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band and Beginning Guitar. She also helps co-teach with her four junior high directors throughout the week.

In addition to her position at Lima Senior, Hannah has been the assistant director of the Lima Area Youth Orchestra since 2015.

Hannah is very involved in Ohio Music Educators Association (OMEA) District 3. She has volunteered for several events and helps host OMEA Solo and Ensemble Adjudicated Events annually. In 2016, Hannah was chosen as a representative from District 3 to attend the Charles Benner Leadership Academy, a professional development summit to help advance OMEA and get young educators involved in leadership within the upper ranks of OMEA.

Because of ONU, I am well-prepared for my busy career. It taught me how to manage my time and be involved in many different ensembles and activities. It also has provided a wealth of resources while I am working in the area. I often get to take students to ONU for various events and show them everything that ONU has to offer. Each year, I have students who perform at ONUMB Spend-a-day as well as ONU Spring Band Fest. Because of wonderful events such as these, my students see ONU as a potential path for them after high school.

Kaitlin McKibben, BM ’15

Kaitlin McKibben teaches one period of sixth-grade beginning band at Maury River Middle School in Lexington, Va., and then she commutes over to Rockbridge County High School where she does most of her teaching. There, she teaches one period of Concert Band (the lower, freshman group), Wind Ensemble (the elite audition group), Jazz Band and Chorus. During the fall, she is responsible for leading the marching band/pep band. In the spring semester, Kaitlin also started an afterschool percussion ensemble that meets once a week.

ONU greatly prepared me to be a well-rounded teacher and to teach a wide variety of classes. ONU got me into the classroom early on in my college career, which allowed me to see if this is really what I wanted to pursue. They also let me experience a wide variety of classroom types (choral, band, general music), which helped me to define my teaching style and what kind of classes I really wanted to focus on. It hasn't always been easy, but I have been able to learn a lot and hope to continue expanding my teaching knowledge.

Elizabeth Druesedow, BM ’15

After graduating from ONU in 2015, Elizabeth Druesedow attended graduate school at the University of Florida and obtained her master's degree in 2017. At UF, she was a graduate assistant in the clarinet studio and the head of the band library for the band department. She also facilitated rehearsal for the University of Florida Gator Band. She also had the opportunity to teach woodwind skills to music education majors and and clarinet lessons to music minors. In her spare time, she teaches private lessons to middle school and high school students in the Gainesville, Fla., area. In fall 2017, Elizabeth began her doctoral studies at Arizona State University for her DMA in performance.

Nathan Singer, BSME ’15

Ohio Northern University gave Nathan the opportunity to double major in both engineering and music while completing his degree in five years (four years of school, one year of engineering co-op experience).

I am blessed that ONU was able to allow me to pursue both majors. As a result, I am now able to pursue careers in which I can utilize my engineering skills and music skills.

Nathan is currently a computer-aided engineer at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in Findlay, Ohio. Using Finite Element Analysis, Nathan virtually tests tires designed by tire engineers. His work assists the tire engineers in developing and improving tire designs and their materials. Nathan has been able to travel to China to teach Cooper engineers in Shanghai how to use their Tire Technology software. He also will be visiting Melksham, England, to teach more Cooper employees and San Antonio, Texas, to receive additional training. Nathan is pursuing his master's degree in engineering management from Duke University to continue to develop his engineering career. He will earn his degree online so that he can continue to work at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.

Nathan also has received many opportunities to utilize the music skills he developed through his music major at ONU. He co-directs the Children’s Choir at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay, a choir that consists of 30 children in the third through eighth grades. Nathan also is a substitute pianist for many churches in the area, including Our Lady of Consolation Shrine (Carey, Ohio), Our Lady of Lourdes (Ada, Ohio) and St. Wendelin (Fostoria, Ohio). Because of an internship opportunity he received in 2013 at Our Lady of Consolation (OLC) in Carey, he now sings for the Carey Chorale at OLC. In the Chorale, he not only helps to provide music through singing, but also has been given the opportunity to accompany the choir help direct and lead the choir when the music director is not present.

I do plan to begin my own piano studio once I finish my graduate studies. ONU gave me the opportunity to teach piano to eight different students ranging from the age of 8 to 17. This opportunity showed me how much I enjoy teaching and mentoring the youth, and I surely want to continue that by giving piano lessons in the near future.

Kayle Gorenflo, BM '14

Kayle received her BM from Ohio Northern in 2014, and she also earned her MM in saxophone performance from Kent State University in 2016.

I took a unique path in music education; I am a private music teacher to nearly 40 students in the Northeast Ohio area. I am also an active performer in the area, playing with various professional ensembles as a saxophonist. I would not be as successful if it wasn't for ONU. Not only did Ohio Northern teach me how to be an effective teacher and musician, but it also instilled my strong work ethic, time-management skills and love of traveling. 


Michael Bizzaro, BM '10

Upon graduation from ONU, Michael enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he received his MM in choral conducting in 2015 after completing his thesis “Die Weihnachtsgeschichte, op.10 - Hugo Distler, A Performance Edition.”  Currently Michael is one of two choir directors at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo., where he directs six choirs, teaches Popular Music and Music Theory, and music directs the spring POPS show and the fall musical, for which he was awarded best music direction in the state by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. His groups routinely receive superior ratings at state contests, and he has had multiple groups chosen to perform at CMEA. Michael has been a sought-after clinician and guest conductor in the state of Colorado. Professionally, Michael sings with the Denver-based choir Kantorei, for which he also serves on the Board of Directors and was instrumental in bringing in Grammy award-winning conductor Joel Rinsema to serve as the groups conductor. The group's first album was released in 2017.

Tyler Graves, BM ’11

Freelance performer and educator

Ohio Northern University was a great choice for my undergraduate education because of the many performing opportunities that were presented to me, ranging from performing in musical pits, to a performance in Germany with the Wind Orchestra. The faculty were another reason for my success and enjoyment at ONU and beyond, as they guided me through both musical and life lessons. After ONU, I attended Miami University and received my Master of Music in performance.

Jeff Martin, BM ’13

At Clark Montessori School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jeff teaches six steel drum bands in grades seven-12. Clark is one of the few high schools in the country with a full-time steel drums teaching position.

I am glad I chose ONU for my undergrad because I gained a wide variety of first-hand experiences in music and in teaching. Even while covering the designed coursework, the ONU faculty were supportive of me pursuing my own interests in music education, whether it was through incorporating it into my degree requirements or providing additional studies and experiences. The diversity of my music education degree prepared me to teach anything I was willing to pursue.

Miriam Stoner, BM ’13

Miriam is pursuing a Master of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). She spent summer 2013 studying in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, where she soloed in the Varna International Music Academy and participated in the University of Miami Frost School of Music Program.


I'm glad I chose to attend ONU because I was able to gain valuable performance experience in a personal and professional setting that truly prepared me for the next level. The faculty and staff of the music department at Northern are all truly invested in the futures of each and every one of their students. At the Cleveland Institute of Music, I have appeared as Papagena in Mozart's The Magic Flute, the Spirit in Handel's Dido and Aeneas, and Sophie in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss.

Damen Martin BM '06

Damen Martin graduated from ONU with a Bachelor of Music in music education. He currently i sa veteran music teacher at Marion Elementary School in St. Louis, Mo.

ONU really made me into a great teacher. I really am impressed with their educational thinking, and the rigor made me a great music teacher!


Krista Shorf, BM ’13

As music teacher at Akron Public schools, Krista teaches seventh-grade general music, middle school orchestra, and high school music appreciation.

ONU provided me with a wealth of teaching, performing and enrichment opportunities that put me ahead of the game in my first year of teaching. During my time at ONU, I was prepared for the realities of being a music educator in the real world. Completing ONU’s rigorous course load for music education and having numerous other opportunities throughout college made me confident in my abilities even as a first-year teacher. I have the problem-solving skills and resources to work through daily issues and the social skills to effectively work with both my students and other teachers. I am one of the youngest teachers working in the entire district and one of only a few who recently completed their undergraduate degree. ONU has definitely granted me an exceptionally well-rounded education, allowing me to keep up with even experienced educators.

Samantha Riedlinger, BM ’13

Samantha is a graduate teaching assistant, with an emphasis in music theory and musicianship, at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In addition to studying for her master’s degree in flute performance, she assists with second-year theory and musicianship, teaches a Fundamentals of Music Theory course for non-music majors, administers the Recitals 1000 class, manages recitals, and participates with a wind band ensemble and in the flute studio.

Being a field commander and assistant conductor at ONU really gave me the confidence I needed. Field experience, coupled with methods classes, provided the experience to be able to manage a classroom and help students understand and learn. With our theory and ear-training courses, I learned everything else that I need to succeed in what I am doing today.

Faith Heflin, BM ’11

I graduated in spring 2011 with a Bachelor of Music in music education, with piano as my instrument of concentration. I am currently the general music teacher for students grades K-4 at Mariemont Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have developed my own studio of private piano students ranging from first- through eighth-grade students. I am glad I chose ONU to complete my undergraduate work because my time there helped to shape me into the musician, educator and person I am today. I received a well-rounded education that gave me the confidence to pursue all of my professional and educational goals.

Clayton A. Slusser, BM ’08

Clayton received his MFA in performance/composition with a focus in world (Balinese) music in 2011 from California Institute of the Arts.

I wanted to write you yet one more email thanking you for all of your support for me in applying to graduate schools and giving me the letters of recommendation that you provided. Without them, and without all of you, I doubt I would have turned out to be the musician that I am today. I was accepted to California Institute of the Arts! I can’t thank each one of you enough for all of your guidance over the four years that I was a student with you at ONU.

Virginia (Harrod) Herrick, BM ’10

I chose ONU because the caliber of music was high, the vocal ensembles I participated in were phenomenal groups of musicians, and because of The ONU Holiday Spectacular. Currently, I live with my husband in Charlotte, N.C., where I sing with Opera Carolina and serve as a private piano and voice instructor.

Rebecca Wilden, BA ’15

Rebecca Wilden majored in music to set a solid foundation for a future career as a music librarian. At ONU, she participated in numerous musical ensembles and had the chance to travel and perform in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany,  Luxembourg and 25 U.S. states. Today, she’s pursuing a Master of Information Science from the University of Michigan. She performs with the University Band at UM and with a church choir. She plans to become a music librarian in an academic library, where she aspires to create connections between music and other academic disciplines.

Being a music major teaches you how to manage your time, collaborate with others and be creative. These skills provide a solid foundation and work ethic that will serve you well no matter what career you pursue. 

Department of Music

Patty Warner

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