Two bachelor’s degrees in six years have left Matt Sears ’20 well educated, well experienced, and full of memories.

Sears is set graduate in spring commencement this May with a bachelor’s degree in sound design from the Creative Technologies Program. He earned his first degree, a Bachelor of Science in music, at the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which forced commencement to be moved online in spring 2020.

“I am super-excited to actually be able to cross the stage this time,” said Sears, of Schaumburg.

Mentors have helped Sears throughout his undergraduate journey. While working in the Office of Admissions for four years, he grew close to Branden Delk, coordinator for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Office of Admissions. 

“Branden was the one who hired me in the first place,” Sears said. ”Throughout college, when I was going through my major change from music education to music, and then looking to get a second degree, he was literally there every step of the way, and I am forever grateful to him for that.”

Sears also credited Dr. Tim Fredstrom, professor of choral music education, for his willingness to help students in need.

“When I was first contemplating education, we had a coffee in his office, and we spoke for an hour just talking about how I feel about where I’m going in the future. He helped me push myself into what I’m doing now, and I’m really happy with what I’m doing now,” described Sears. 

Sears is hoping to use his experiences and apply his skills in the music industry. He would like to plan live performances and help create music in a recording studio. 

“I have had a passion for music for over a decade now, starting when I played viola in middle school. I want to help up-and-coming musicians sound as good as they can and learn more about today’s music scene,” Sears said. 

Sears has made lifelong memories by getting involved on campus. He advised other Redbirds to do the same.

“You can have your friends that you’ll meet on your floor or through your major, but getting involved and meeting people other ways, like clubs, sometimes will lead to the best of friendships, and I regret not doing something my first semester freshman year,” Sears said. 

Sears began branching out as a sophomore. He ended up joining Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity; Acafellaz, an all men’s a cappella registered student organization (RSO); and Redbird Esports, where he competed at the highest level in collegiate esports.  

Sears also traveled throughout Europe with the University’s Concert Choir, performing for 10 days in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy. 

“I celebrated my birthday in the Austrian mountains. That is probably one of my favorite college memories, getting to hear ’Happy Birthday’ in three different countries,” Sears said. 

As his time at the University winds down, Sears said he would not change a thing. 

“I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t regret being in college for six years one bit and making all these memories, meeting all these people.” 

This story is one of a series of profiles on Redbirds who are celebrating graduation this May. For more information about how Illinois State is celebrating commencement this semester, visit the Graduation Services website.