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Charolette Megginson Endowed Vocal Scholarship Established at WIU

June 11, 2018


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MACOMB, IL -- During Western Illinois University Vocal Music Professor Emerita Charolette Megginson's 35-year career, hundreds of students had the opportunity to learn from a caring, well-established professional.

"Believing in scholarships, the music program at Western Illinois University, the students and their families, I am thrilled to give back through this scholarship," Megginson said.

After serving on the scholarship committee for the School of Music for more than three decades, Megginson saw the need for scholarships. As the University continues to work to bolster enrollment, she added that scholarships are incentives in the recruitment process, and that endowed scholarships are becoming more important as other financial assistance is declining. As these endowments require a $25,000 commitment, Megginson decided to donate additional funds so that it could be awarded immediately, rather than wait for the interest to accrue over the next year.

"In the relationships with my students, it is so gratifying to have had the opportunity to share in their growth and goals," she said.

It's because of that gratitude for her former students that Megginson wants to help more vocal music students. During the Fall 2017 semester, a Western student received the inaugural Charolette Megginson Endowed Vocal Scholarship, which is awarded to a student who is actively performing on a regular basis such as in solo recitals, WIU Opera Workshop, participating in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions and taking part in WIU, community and church choirs.

Vocal students with an overall grade point average of 3.0 -- and a 3.5 grade point average in music -- can apply for this annual scholarship. It's Megginson's hope that scholarships like hers will attract even more qualified students due to the scholarship's stringent requirements.

According to Megginson, students arrive at WIU with various levels of experience and talent, and she always sought to challenge each one.
"I have found it just as exciting to work with an untrained talent and help bring them up to a performance degree as to bring the more experienced student up to being a Tri-States NATS winner," she added.

Over the years, she has had numerous Illinois State and Tri-State winners in NATS student auditions, a national finalist in the Music Teachers National Association Competition, Concerto Competition winners and scholarship winners to institutions of higher learning. Many former students share that they still use concepts they learned while studying voice with Megginson.

"One of the things I always appreciated about Charolette, especially later in life, is that she didn't just teach the voice. She taught how to professionally present yourself and put yourself together in all situations. When you get out into the real world and you start competing, whether in vocal competitions or even in job interviews, it makes a difference on how you put yourself together. She didn't harp on it, but she made sure her students were going to present their best on stage," recalled Julie Baker, development director for WIU's College of Fine Arts and Communication.

Before arriving at WIU in 1979, Megginson had a strong history of teaching and performing. She had taught at Barry University (Miami, FL), University of Montevallo (AL) and at Vienna International Music Center. She has sung opera under the direction of Gian Carlo Menotti, Michael Pollack, Richard Collins and with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Florida State University Symphony and the Miami Symphony, and has concertized in universities throughout the Midwest and Southeast; on educational television and with various organizations in Austria and Germany. Megginson has also sung at International Festivals of Art Songs in master classes with Elly Ameling and Paul Sperry.

Highlights of Megginson's service while teaching at WIU include establishing an annual Vocal Resource Workshop for High School Choral Directors and Voice Teachers for the Illinois Music Educators State Convention; serving as a charter member of the Central Illinois NATS, serving two terms as vice president and two terms as president; and she was elected to two terms as governor of the Illinois District NATS. On campus, she served on the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Performing Arts Society Board, of which she remains a member today. She recalls fondly being asked to serve on the three-year committee to plan Western's Centennial in 1999 and serving as faculty adviser for the music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon.

"We are grateful to Charolette, first, for her decades of outstanding work at WIU, and now, for her commitment to helping future vocal students," said Brad Bainter, vice president for advancement and public services. "She believes in 'practicing what you preach' and the establishment of this scholarship is proof of that. We were very excited to award the first scholarship in Fall 2017 and we look forward to awarding this scholarship for years to come to talented students in the School of Music."

Posted By: Amanda Shoemaker, WIU Foundation & Development (AJ-Shoemaker@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations