Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Major: Music Education
Why They Chose Mason: After their first visit to the Fairfax Campus, these identical twins were convinced that Mason was the place for them. “I immediately felt like Mason was my home away from home. Everyone was so friendly and welcomed us with open arms,” says Rhea. As seasoned musicians—Rhea plays the saxophone and Courtney plays the clarinet—this dynamic duo couldn’t wait to start working with Mason’s music faculty. “I was especially impressed by the professionalism of the professors in the School of Music. Everyone was so dedicated to their craft,” says Courtney.
What Sets Them Apart: During each year of high school, the Tuckers attended the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia. “It was a great experience because we were able to concentrate on perfecting our skills as musicians and took advanced music courses that weren’t offered at our regular school,” says Rhea. They both agree that the experience challenged them to be their very best. “We were able to play the kind of music that only professional symphonies and orchestras play during their concerts,” says Courtney. During high school, the twins enlisted in the U.S. Army for an opportunity to play with the Army Reserve Band and get some much-needed help with college tuition. After graduation, they endured a nine-week boot camp where they learned how to shoot M16 and M4 rifles, throw grenades, navigate with only a compass and map in the woods, and ultimately be a soldier. “The entire experience of PT drills every morning and drill sergeants yelling in our faces was well worth the stress and aggravation. I think we learned a lot about ourselves,” says Rhea. Once a month, Rhea and Courtney travel to the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Virginia, to practice for upcoming concerts with the 380th Army Reserve Band.
What Surprised Them about Mason: Mason’s proximity to Washington, D.C., was a huge selling point for Rhea and Courtney. “We couldn’t believe how accessible downtown D.C., is, and as music education majors, we are thrilled with the amount of opportunities available to us right in our own backyard,” says Courtney. Courtney and Rhea are especially excited about being so close to the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” “For a long time, it’s been a dream of ours to play with them, and we feel like we’re one step closer to making this happen,” says Rhea.
What Would They Tell Prospective Students: “Students who might be on the fence about Mason should definitely make it a priority to visit the campus before making any final decisions,” says Courtney. In addition, they both agree that talking to the faculty is key. “Prospective students need to take the time to talk to some of the professors in their desired department because they’ll be able to see how dedicated they are to the success of their students, which is the type of support and encouragement every student needs,” says Rhea.
Plans: Both Rhea and Courtney would like to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in music education in hopes of eventually becoming middle school teachers and performers. “If music education doesn’t work out for me, I know a little boy with autism who has often inspired me to become a special education teacher,” says Courtney. As for Rhea, in addition to teaching, her goal is to play music as often as she can. “If I don’t have the opportunity to play with “Pershing’s Own,” I would love to participate in pit orchestras for Broadway productions.”