Joel Michael-Schwartz '15
Music Major, Double Concentration in Music Theory/Composition and Mandolin Performance
Joel Michael-Schwartz had a very specific requirement when he was searching for colleges. “I knew that I wanted to major in mandolin performance, and Goucher is one of only two or three schools in the country that has a serious mandolin program,” he says.
After discovering the school through The Colleges That Change Lives, Joel attended an information session and college fair associated with this influential college guide. He was able to collect information from and speak directly with admission representatives from Goucher. He says he felt an instant connection.
“Both my parents are educators, so I have very strong feelings about educational philosophy,” he says. “Goucher’s very much syncs with mine. The college’s approach is to provide professional training as well as to prep students for graduate school in a liberal arts environment.”
Now that he is here at Goucher, Joel says the majority of his time is consumed with working with his professors on mastering the mandolin, which he began playing at age 12. He is proud to say he has made great improvement under his professors’ skilled instruction and attentive mentoring.
“What I like the most about Goucher is that pretty much everybody I know here, including the faculty, is passionate about whatever they’re doing, as I am, which makes for a really exciting environment,” he says.
Joel is involved with a number of clubs and activities, including the Goucher Combo, for which he is the mandolinist and manager; the Salsa Club; the Jazz Ensemble; and Prism, a student organization dedicated to providing support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students, faculty, staff, and their allies. He initiated a concert series called “Coming Out Swinging” with the Goucher Combo, and he performs every other Saturday in the Pearlstone Student Center.
When he is not working on his craft, he is literally working – as an audio-visual tech and as a Goucher Ambassador. As an ambassador, Joel gives campus tours, hosts overnight guests, and helps the Office of Admissions with special events. He says, “It’s fun to get to meet all of these people who are looking at Goucher and see their different takes on both the school and how they’re dealing with the college process in general.”
Joel wants prospective students to know that the liberal arts education will allow them to experience a variety of subjects to improve their capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems.
“With my various friends, what we do when we get together is just teach each other new things that we’ve been doing across our respective fields of interest,” he says. “It’s been a really cool experience because it expands my mind and the way that I view what I do. I get to see how they approach their art, their work, and I get to incorporate those perspectives into my life. It’s been very valuable.”