Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Living the dream:

Senior spends semester at Contemporary Music Center
Stephanie Spitnale describes benefits of studying off campus through Huntington University, a Christian college.

"This program is a dream come true."

Huntington University senior Stephanie Spitnale never dreamed that she would be able to spend her last semester of college just doing what she loves — writing and performing music.

But that is exactly how she is spending these last few months of her college career as a participant in the Contemporary Music Center off-campus program near Nashville, Tenn.

“This program is a dream come true,” said Spitnale, an entrepreneurial small business management major. “I can’t believe I get to concentrate on nothing but music!”

Kay Schwob, director of HU’s Enterprise Resource Center, said that the CMC is one of several off-campus study programs offered by BestSemester and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Spitnale is the first HU student to complete the program at its new location in Brentwood, Tenn., just 10 miles south of Nashville, as it was relocated there this year from Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Those eligible to participate in the program include students from any academic institution belonging to the CCCU.

HU’s academic catalog describes that the contemporary music program as an opportunity for students to “experience a uniquely Christian perspective on creativity and the marketplace while working together to create and market an original music recording.”

Spitnale is focusing on singing while following the Artist Track, which is designed for students who are considering careers as vocalists, musicians, songwriters, recording artists, performers and producers, according to the HU academic catalog.

Although studying off-campus has been an adjustment, Spitnale said she is enjoying the experiences she has already had, which includes getting to see country music singer Kelly Clarkson perform on her first night at the CMC.

Spitnale has been singing since she was very young, mostly in churches, nursing homes, pageants and other contests. While she has always had a country “twang” in her voice, she said that during the CMC program, she is searching for the style of music that she wants to pursue.

Even though Spitnale is not on campus, she does still spend some time in a classroom setting. But she said she spends a lot of her time writing songs and rehearsing for weekly performances.

She is receiving college credit for two classes at the CMC.

“It’s crazy to think that we can do something we love all the time and get college credit for it,” Spitnale said.

Spitnale’s academic advisor, Dave McEowen, associate professor of business at HU, said he helped Spitnale work with the registrar’s office to ensure that credits would transfer and that she still could graduate in May. He also provided an independent study for Spitnale, which she completed before leaving for the CMC.

Spitnale said she wanted to take part in the CMC program because she thought it would be the best way to pursue a career in the music industry.

“I hope that I come out of the program knowing the next steps to take in my career with more contacts in the music industry than before,” she said.

McEowen said he encourages students to pursue off-campus experiences such as the CMC program because he thinks these programs help students grow and mature in ways that a one-campus experience may not.

“I think Stephanie will gain more understanding about how the music industry works from the inside,” he said, “and develop a better feeling about whether or not that is the field she wants to pursue.”

Spitnale’s experience will continue through April 22, 2011.


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