Will Mandelbaum ’21, School of Fine Arts

Will Mandelbaum reflects on his time at UConn

Photo of Will Mandelbaum

Will Mandelbaum (Contributed photo)

Why did you choose UConn?
I chose UConn for a few different reasons. I met current mentor and advisor Dr. Jamie Spillane my senior year of high school, who successfully convinced me to audition for the Music Department – I had such a fantastic experience working with him in high school, and I knew I wanted more of that in my life. UConn was also a perfect distance away from home for me; I’m from Fairfield, about an hour and a half away from Storrs, which felt like close enough that I could get home when I needed to, but far away enough that I could feel independent.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I will be temporarily returning to Fairfield to fill in as the long-term substitute Choral Director at Fairfield Warde High School until mid-June! I am so thrilled to return to the same district that I grew up in and give back to the school system that gave so much to me for 13 years. As soon I heard this position was opening up, I jumped as fast as I could on the opportunity and was fortunate enough to be hired. I’m actually starting a few weeks before graduation, so by the time you read this I will already have been teaching for a few weeks! Over the summer, I will be doing a bit of theatre music direction at a summer camp in my hometown, Fairfield Teen Theatre, but otherwise, preparing for the fifth and final year of my Music Education program.

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?
UConn has prepared me for the next chapter in life by giving me invaluable connections that I’ll have throughout the rest of my life. Whether in the Music Department, UConn Choirs, the A Cappella Association, or the friends I met in dorms and dining halls, I am lucky to now have a network of friends and colleagues that I can get in touch with if I need to. Especially within the arts, jobs are extremely connection-based, and through the Music Department and organizations like the American Choral Directors Association, I’ve already had so many great opportunities to network and make valuable connections within my field.

What’s something you learned in a class that you’ll always remember?
Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Timbre, Texture, Form, Articulation, Genre. The eight parameters of music. (Music majors know the mnemonic device that helped me remember this…) MUSI 3401: Music History and Literature to 1750. The most difficult class I’ve taken at UConn, but my favorite class I’ve taken at UConn, with a fantastic professor, Dr. Eric Rice.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?
How small it is. Obviously, there are over 20,000 students at the Storrs campus, but each community and student organization I’ve been involved with in my time has been so tight-knit and close, to the point where I saw people I knew on Fairfield Way almost every day I was on campus. One of the concerns I had initially when I decided to go to UConn was that it would be too big for me, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

What’s one thing every student should do during their time at UConn?
HuskyTHON, HuskyTHON, HuskyTHON, no question. HuskyTHON is year-long fundraiser for patients at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, which culminates in an 18-hour dance marathon in the early Spring. I only started dancing at HuskyTHON my junior year, and I wish I started my Freshman year. Participating in HuskyTHON has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, and if you are a student at UConn, HuskyTHON should be a no-brainer!