Fine Arts Degree Other Alums

Sue Flogel ’79

Age: 54
Fine Arts Studied at Clarke: Music
Background in the fine arts: I am a music teacher for the Dubuque Community School District and will begin my 33rd year teaching in August. I also maintain a private studio at the Northeast Iowa School of Music in Dubuque.

How has your fine arts degree from Clarke help you establish your career in the
fine arts?

Without my degree from Clarke, I would not have been able to do what I am doing. In addition to my work as an educator, I have worked as a music therapist (a program available when I attended Clarke) and am heavily involved in theater.

What activities were you involved in at Clarke that helped you further establish
your career in the fine arts?

While at Clarke, I did the typical music major things. My typical existence changed drastically at the end of my junior year when my voice teacher, Anne Siegrst, BVM, and I were planning my senior recital. The first half was pretty traditional, but for the second half, I directed some non-music majors in the musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." No one at Clarke had ever done a recital like that, but because of the small school atmosphere and the determination of one truly wonderful teacher, my recital was a huge success. Looking back on it now, I realize that my love for directing started way back then. Since then, I have directed 37 youth musicals.

What in your career has been most rewarding?

My life now has many professional joys. I love teaching music and I have been able to combine that with musical theater work at my school. I also act and direct at the Bell Tower Theater which is definitely my home away from home. In my private studio, I teach piano, voice lessons and provide music therapy services. I especially enjoy working with students with autism and have achieved great success in this area. I have received several honors and awards, but the most meaningful one was being named ARK Advocates' teacher of the year for improving the lives of people living with disabilities. I received that last year and it meant the world to me.

Words of wisdom:

To current students and graduates, I would say this: there are so many things you can do with the arts. Some of you may have studied the arts at Clarke, and others pick it up throughout life. Take advantage of all Clarke has to give. Clarke gave me the confidence to go out and do all the things I have done. Believe in Clarke, because Clarke will always believe in you.



Tony Frenzel ’05

Age: 29
Fine Arts Studied at Clarke: Journalism/Photography/Design
Background in the fine arts: I’ve been working at the Telegraph Herald since the second semester of my senior year at Clarke, starting as a graphic artist/copy editor and wending a twisty way to my current position as a multimedia specialist. As my role at the newspaper has evolved, I've been given the opportunity to explore videography, design in a variety of areas, photo toning/restoration, blogging and more. It's sometimes a dizzying array of tasks that come across my desk on a daily basis, many accompanied by that cruel taskmaster known as the "deadline," but it’s always engaging and never boring.

How has your fine arts degree from Clarke helped you establish your career?

My degree from Clarke was important, not just because it was a foot in the door, but also because of the opportunities for personal expansion. By the very nature of journalism coursework, I gained a wealth of experience in many of the aspects of the industry that go beyond interviewing and reporting. I had the chance to study basic audio/visual production, website creation and maintenance, photography and many of the theories and concepts behind effective communication. I've found that being at least conversant in such a variety of subjects not only made me an interesting candidate while applying for positions, it prepared me for the flowering of cross-media pollination that has become so necessary in the era of the Internet and social media.

What activities were you involved in at Clarke that helped you further establish your career in the fine arts?

The major activity that prepared me for my career was working on the Clarke "Courier." Necessitated by having a small staff, school newspapers require their staffers to wear a variety of hats: writers, designers, editors and sometimes photographers. In the course of such hat wearing, it's nearly impossible not to learn some important lessons about time management, taking advantage of one's strengths and communicating said strengths to others. One particular activity I found to be greatly helpful in the area of photo toning and reproduction was painting. Surprising, considering what a terrible painter I was and am. Finally, while not technically an activity, I consider the Clarke community to have had a powerfully positive effect on myself and my career. Clarke has a diverse and far ranging community of students, faculty and staff. Suddenly finding myself within such a group, after spending the previous 18 years in a decidedly homogenous little town in Wisconsin, was just the shock I needed. Learning to interact with and communicate to such a diverse group was just the experience I needed for a job where I'm often called upon to approach total strangers from whom I must extract interesting bits of information quickly.

What in your career has been most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of my creative career is that, while I have explored a variety of mediums, I don't feel as though I've mastered anything. There always seems to be new challenges, new things to learn, new twists and unknown detours coming over the horizon. It's both exhilarating and intimidating—a challenge I relish.

What have been the biggest challenges, and how have you met those challenges?

Especially starting out, I found that I was always my own worst critic. It's a tendency that I've had to focus in a constructive direction, using it to improve my work rather than allow it to cause indecision. Learning to trust yourself and have confidence in your abilities is invaluable. It might seem impossible, especially if you’re newly graduated and swimming in a bigger, more complex pond than you've ever had to before. But, it's important to learn that your opinions and ideas have merit and are worth voicing. Another challenge was learning that you're not necessarily going to be living the dream right away. There's a lot of hard work that goes into getting where you want to be, and sometimes that merely takes perseverance married to a strong work ethic. Sometimes it's rampant self-promotion. Sometimes it takes trial and error. Sometimes it's two steps forward and one back. The real challenge is recognizing what the situation requires and implementing a plan in an intelligent way.

Words of wisdom:

Have fun. I always enjoy what I'm doing as much as possible, and if I wasn't doing so on a daily basis, I'd have moved on long ago. I honestly don't believe there is such a thing as a perfect job or career. Every job has its ups and its downs. What really matters is the satisfaction you derive from the finished product, and whether the good times along the way overshadow those moments of stress or frustration. Clarke is a great place to jump off from academia into the working world. You'll miss it when you're gone—I know I did. But what comes next is one wild adventure.

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