Mandi Crespo admits that navigating one of Carleton’s new master’s programs made her feel a bit like an explorer.
The Missouri resident expected to face challenges moving to Ottawa to attend university, but starting a new program added to the element of the unknown.
“You feel a bit like you’re starting something new and exciting,” says Crespo, one of three students in the first master’s of art in music and culture graduating class.
Crespo, 27, studied English and film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After working for four years, she began to miss music and was drawn to the theoretical study offered by the Carleton program which was launched in September 2007.
Now, two years and a 130-page thesis later, Crespo says she feels lucky to be graduating and to have three part-time jobs in the music industry.
“It’s not like other degrees, where you leave and are expected to go to work in a certain career,” she says. “Because it’s so new, you can do anything with it.”
One of her jobs is on campus digitalizing a donated collection of Aboriginal and folk songs which she hopes to make available to the public by putting online.
“They’re such a huge part of Canadian history,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something very important. It’s stuff that people should know. It’s a part of the culture.”
Writing articles for music encyclopedias and working for the Ottawa Chamber Music Society also fill Crespo’s days but she says she doesn’t mind her busy schedule.
“It’s not a bad problem to have coming out of university, having too many doors open,” she says with a laugh.
She also sings and plays guitar at shows throughout Ottawa. After graduation, she says she’ll keep in touch with her professors and watch the program develop over the next few years.
“You’ll always know you were the first,” she says, “and that’s pretty neat.”