Few undergraduates can claim a world premiere, but music major Katie Zdanowski ’12 has the achievement on her resume.

She arranged a work for a tuba/euphonium ensemble, originally written for other instruments. Her arrangement premiered with the ISU Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble at the University’s Evening of Brass concert in 2010, and was performed at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference in 2011.

The unusual assignment came from one of her professors. Though Zdanowski was a bit reluctant at first, she later discovered such opportunities are an advantage of going to ISU.

As a high school senior, Zdanowski had her sights set on another school. She was offered the chance to audition at ISU when she contacted the School of Music in search of an instrument. Faculty judges were so impressed, they awarded her the Mary Jo Brown Scholarship. She also received a Friends of the Arts Student Award.

“The scholarship made an incredible difference and enabled me to graduate with very little debt,” she said. “I know many students my age who are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of loans. Not having to deal with that kind of financial burden after graduation is an incredible blessing. It opens my life to an endless number of possibilities. It makes a difference as to what direction you can take your life.”

Zdanowski is working in music education as a band director in the Illinois community of Robinson, and continues to perform part-time.

“I am very grateful to the entire ISU School of Music for their generous help and support during my undergraduate studies,” she said. “The help I received from them and the fine arts community enabled me to pursue my studies to the fullest.”

Katie received the Mary Jo Brown Scholarship and a scholarship from Friends of the Arts. The Brown scholarship was established in 1990 by Betty Robertson in memory of her sister. The company from which Betty retired matches her gifts, increasing the size of the scholarships awarded. The Friends of the Arts (FOA) is an ISU organization that supports outstanding students. Its mission is supporting the arts and helping students with promising careers in the arts pursue their education and careers with minimal financial debt. There have been 116 recipients of the Brown scholarship since 1991, and more than 170 recipients of the FOA scholarship since 2009.

The personal stories of gratitude shared by these students are increasingly the norm at Illinois State University, as more alumni and friends of Illinois State make an investment in the University’s programs and people. Every gift received has a positive impact. Private support reveals each donor’s passion, while fueling the passion of students whose college experience is either made possible through financial assistance or further enriched because campus offerings are bolstered. State your Passion today by making a contribution online at IllinoisState.edu/Giving, calling (309) 438-8041, or sending an email to jdhutch@IllinoisState.edu.