Music is a lifelong passion that I can continue at Wartburg

NAME: Spencer Dodgen
HOMETOWN: Story City
MAJOR: Biochemistry and neuroscience

CAMPUS INVOLVEMENt: Wind Ensemble, Waverly Community Symphony, Knightliters Jazz Band, Ritterchor, Scholars Program, Tri Delta, NSLS, and Wartburg Ambassadors

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg because of the small, close-knit community that I felt when I toured the campus. I visited a lot of other schools, and they just didn’t feel like the same kind of community that I felt at Wartburg.

WHY DID YOU MAJOR IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND NEUROSCIENCE: Wartburg has an amazing track record for putting students into the places that they want to go to, like graduate school or straight into their career. The professors are amazing at teaching the curriculum that they teach and get students to wherever they want to go. I want to go to medical school, and I just felt like Wartburg would prepare me for that kind of journey.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE CLASS SO FAR: Biochemistry, and it was a super hard class. All the material is just incredibly challenging. Dr. Ellerbroek is a fantastic lecturer and expects so much from his students. Going back and looking at the work that I put into that class is super inspiring and motivating for everything else I do.

Spencer Dodgen playing the trombone during a Wind Ensemble concert

HAVE YOU DONE ANY RESEARCH: We’re looking at discovering a new virus that infects a bacterium that causes a lot of infections in hospitals. The reason for that is to look at a potential way to treat patients who have this very serious bacterial infection through this kind of virus. We’re trying to find a new one and try to characterize it as much as possible. The other research that I’m doing is in chemistry, and we’re trying to build cobalts, a cobalt complex. It’s like a new a new compound that is supposed to bind with other compounds that have a specific structure. It has a lot of use in electrochemistry and biochemistry as well.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE WIND ENSEMBLE: I was interested in continuing music in college. My high school experience with music was something that motivated me to continue. Music is a lifelong passion that I can continue at Wartburg. I felt like going into college, I really wanted to try and continue to play trombone as much as I can.

TELL US ABOUT TOURING ABROAD WITH THE WIND ENSEMBLE: I got to perform at six different places and what was pretty cool is that we also had a lot of time to kind of be the tourists in Japan as well. We got to take in the whole culture and visit a bunch of places. I stayed with a host family for about three days, and we went on a road trip to this very scenic place in Japan. It was just one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve probably ever had.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS WIND ENSMEBLE PRESIDENT: As Wind Ensemble president, a lot of my duties are helping keep the Wind Ensemble motivated to continue rehearsing and prepare for performances.

HOW HAS WARTBURG HELPED YOU SUCCEED: Working with professors. The professors expect a lot out of their students and think very highly of us. They want us to be successful and that shows in the classes that I’ve taken. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge that are brought forth by all the classes that I’m taking. We have a very close-knit community; I can get to work with students well and collaborate with them as much as possible. Wartburg provides opportunity to get some extra work in with professors as well, through research.

ADVICE  DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO JOIN WIND ENSEMBLE: Apply for a Meistersinger Music Scholarship. That was a super beneficial thing for me and that will help with financial aid. Also, take time to just appreciate performing music and having the opportunity in the first place. With Wind Ensemble specifically, it’s such as close-knit community, so I would highly recommend auditioning if you want to get to know people really well.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I’m taking the fifth year that Wartburg offered tuition free because of the pandemic so I can study neuroscience and psychology. After I graduate, I’m planning to go to medical school. I’m really interested in radiology or working for Doctors Without Borders.