The Mason Spirit

Mason Memories

To be honest, George Mason University was not my first choice - James Madison was. I wanted to go there pretty badly, but I didn't pass Madison's music audition. Now, as I look back on things, I am glad that my first choice didn't pan out, leaving me to attend Mason.

I credit my change of heart while attending Mason from 1992 to 1996 to the university's Music Department faculty, which I believe was one of the finest around. My advisor was Dr. Joseph Kanyan, who was one of the most helpful people during my college career. I had a bad first semester with an academic class that turned into a nightmare! Dr. Kanyan sat me down, telling me the facts of college life straight and getting me back on track. I also remember that when it looked like I wasn't going to graduate, Dr. Kanyan had the faith in me that carried me through and helped me graduate in only four and a half years.

Several other members of the Music faculty were also ready to help you when needed. The late Dr. Thomas Brawley was very serious and one of the toughest in the business, but he really knew how to challenge you and make you learn. When you took his classes, you inhaled all things music; he made you eat, sleep, and play music 24/7.

The late Dr. Sam Boniventura was one of the nicest professors in the entire university. His door was always open and so was his extensive collection of books and materials. If you needed something, he could find it for you. He may have used the typewriter to write class handouts, but his mind was way ahead of the times. His classes were some of the toughest and most rewarding. He allowed you to pursue your own interests within the parameters of the class and made each student teach a 20-minute segment on a selected topic relating to the class. That was one of the toughest 20 minutes I ever had in all of my time at Mason. In my last semester, he saw something special in me and started me off with a small collection of handouts that he had used in other music history courses, which he had taught all the way back to the mid-1970s. When he was getting ready to retire six months later, he offered me the rest of his handout collection, knowing that I would put it to good use. He died shortly after in 1997, and each time I read one of his handouts, I am saddened by his death.

After graduating from Mason, I moved south to Palmyra, Va., (Lake Monticello) and worked at a few places until last spring, when I found my dream job. In May, I was officially hired by the Music Place and CDs for Less as their computer network and music specialist. I am responsible for keeping all of their computers up and running and keeping the company's extensive music reference database filled with useful information. I also have set up a chainwide internal jukebox that allows us to play items over our own personal radio station (stored on a 120GB server) in our stores.

I believe my training at George Mason and the kindness and interest of the entire Music faculty in my progress helped me to find what I can do best with my music skills and has led me to this great job that I now have. At George Mason, the faculty really cares about your future, and their doors are always open to those in need.

David Stemple earned his bachelor of arts degree in music in December 1996.

Do you fondly remember certain places within the George Mason community that exemplified the "college experience"? Were you befriended by a mentor or professor at George Mason who influenced your life? If so, tell us about it. Send your submission to Alumni Affairs, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MS 3B3, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444. Please keep submissions to a maximum of 500 words.