Student Spotlight: Nissa Anderson

Nissa Anderson

Nissa Anderson
Major: Music

Nissa Anderson can't recall a time when she wasn't interested in music.

“My dad has worked from home since I was about 3 years old,” she said. “He always had a tendency to blast Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eric Clapton while working, and when I was little I’d run around and dance to it. One of my older brothers was given a guitar for his birthday when I was about 5, and I spent a lot of time begging him to teach me something.

“When I had the opportunity to choose and learn how to play an instrument at school in the fourth grade, I jumped at the chance. I chose the violin and have been playing ever since, plus teaching myself guitar, piano and mandolin on the side. I played in the orchestra at my high school all four years, and somewhere around my sophomore year I realized that music had become such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t see myself being happy years down the road without it.”

Although Anderson was familiar with College of DuPage, as one of her brothers attended COD, she had wanted to attend a four-year school. But when she applied for and was named a Presidential Scholar – an impressive award that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD's Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society – the choice was easy.

“As a Presidential Scholar and an honors student, I knew that I would earn credentials that would give me an edge when competing for scholarships,” she said. “In this economy, that’s extremely important to me. Private universities are expensive, and COD was a great way to keep on track academically while still being able to save money. I also enjoyed how flexible COD was and how I could choose classes to fit my schedule.”

Anderson earned her associate’s degree in only 14 months and transferred to Lake Forest College, where she entered as a junior and earned her Bachelor in Music Education. She was going to pursue a master’s degree at Lake Forest but decided to see where her career goes before determining what advanced degree will best fit her needs. While at Lake Forest, she completed her student teaching at Glenbrook South High School teaching orchestra, AP music theory, symphonic band and choir.

She currently works as a private violin, viola and cello teacher at A Sound Education in Brookfield and is the assistant orchestra director at Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst. Anderson also continues to work on her Suzuki Method credentials and private violin studies.

“I’d love to ultimately play in the Chicago Symphony, but I know it’s going to take a lot of practicing to get there,” she said. “I always thought it would be fun to perform in pit orchestras for musical productions, so that’s an option I’m considering as well.”

More about the Music program

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