Student Spotlight: Charlie Penn

Passion, talent and mentorship are key factors in shaping the Bulldog experience — especially for Adrian College junior Charlie Penn.

The vocal performance major stumbled across Adrian College as a senior in high school, but wasn’t sure a four-year college was the right fit — she just knew she wanted to sing. Enter admissions counselor, Joe VanGeison. As he guided Penn through the admissions process and introduced her to faculty, she began to feel as if AC could offer her the experience she would need to pursue her dreams.

“I chose Adrian College after sitting in on classes such as Choir and French Diction. I even had a mini vocal lesson with a previous voice faculty member, Beth Major,” Penn described. “This completely changed my perspective of Adrian and really helped me make my final decision. I knew I wouldn’t be just a number and I would get the individualized attention I not only wanted but needed in order to succeed.”

Since then, Penn has found her bearings and continues to thrive on campus. She’s actively involved in Chi Omega and serves as a Student Ambassador for Admissions. Unsurprisingly, her heart still belongs to music, as indicated in her roles in the Adrian College choir and women’s a cappella group. In her spare time, she visits Daybreak Aging Facility and sings with individuals who experience age-related challenges.

What really makes Penn’s Adrian College experience remarkable, however, is the relationships she has built with faculty. Music Department Chair Dr. Kristin Boggs Clark and Director of Choral Activity Phillip Clark, have personally mentored and significantly contributed to her growth as a musician.

“Dr. Boggs Clark and Professor Clark have both pushed me to do my best and have helped me grow through their excellent teaching. They have helped me accomplish things I never thought were possible as they continue to push me to achieve my goals every day in and out of the classroom,” Penn said. “It’s not until someone else starts to believe in you that you really start to believe in yourself.”

As Penn continues to reach higher notes and larger goals, her ambition soars. She plans to take a year to fine-tune her craft after graduation before applying to music conservatories around the country.

“I would love to end up teaching voice and music classes such as Opera History, Opera Workshop, Diction, and even Aural Skill, especially in higher levels of education,” she explained.

Penn’s voice travels from the stage to classrooms and the hearts of future Bulldogs. If she had to tell future students just one thing, however, she would tell them to embrace the awkwardness of being outside their comfort zones.

“To be a Bulldog, you have to be willing to learn and willing to put in the work,” Penn said. “Everyone here wants to see you succeed, and you will never know what you might like unless you try it.”