Caleb Gomes is a junior from Du Quoin, Illinois, studying Music Theory & Composition in Higher Education.
Why did you choose SIU?
I came to visit SIU a year before my freshman year as a prospective student, and got a chance to meet with some of the School of Music professors. The amount of interest that they invested in me that day, in what they could do for me, what SIU could do for me, and what I could bring to SIU, along with specific things they could do to help me reach my specific career goals, absolutely amazed me. It was an immediate personal connection that I failed to make at any other university that I visited. That was the primary reason I came to SIU. Even on my prospective visit, I was already family.
What would you tell a prospective student about SIU?
Do what I did. Come to SIU, see the campus for yourself. Even if you live 20 minutes from campus, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s so much about SIU to discover that even the local people don’t know about. You gotta dig in, find your professors and ask them questions. Everyone is so willing to give answers. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt from going here the last two years. Ask questions. It takes you so far here.
What inspired you to choose your area of study?
Music is a huge passion of mine, but I’ve always been a good all-around student. I originally came to SIU pursuing pre-optometry and horn performance. Over the course of my first two semesters, I discovered my true interests. Although I was excelling in my science classes, I decided that I had a true knack for music composition. So, with the mentoring of my music professors, I changed my track to Music Theory & Composition in Higher Education. It’s the best decision I have made. I’ve gotten so many amazing opportunities in music composition and performance through the SIU School of Music that I never dreamed I’d be able to have.
What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
Every time I get to perform at SIU, whether it’s with the SIU Wind Ensemble, SIU Concert Choir, SIU Symphonic Band, Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, SIU Pep Band, or the SIU Marching Salukis, it’s always a memorable experience. But I think my most memorable would be performing with the Marching Salukis during the recent eclipse at Saluki Stadium. Being in that stadium and experiencing the eclipse with 15,000 other people along with all my dear friends in the Marching Salukis was absolutely amazing.
Have you received any scholarships as a student?
I have received several scholarships through the College of Liberal Arts for performing the SIU’s ensembles. I’m also a recipient of the University Excellence Scholarship.
What does the scholarship mean to you and how has it enabled you to pursue your goals?
Receiving the College of Liberal Arts scholarships has definitely given me motivation to further pursue music and perform in as many ensembles as I can. I’m actually thinking of joining the SIU Studio Jazz Orchestra next semester. These scholarships have definitely eased the cost of being a music major at SIU as well. Instrument repair, upkeep costs and ensemble costs can add up
How has SIU inspired you?
I would say the most inspiring person at SIU is my horn professor, Prof. Jennifer Presar. She has a pure passion for music that I’ve never experienced from anyone else. She’s taught me so much about music, and how to put emotion into my music and my playing. She’s also been a great mentor for me, guiding me through all my classes and recommending workshops, composition and performance opportunities, and connecting me to amazing people in the musical world.
Why should someone consider donating to SIU?
In today’s age of exceedingly higher education costs for students, any help along the way with scholarships is such a burden reliever for students. They provide motivation to pursue specific career goals. They help ease the costs of fees, and help the students focus on what they’re here for, an amazing education. They also let the student know that there are people who genuinely care about them and their futures and are willing to pay to make sure they reach their goals.
What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
We have one of the most gorgeous campuses that I’ve ever been to. Places like Thompson Woods, Campus Lake, Touch of Nature, and Giant City Park are the reasons why some people come to SIU in the first place. As a tour guide, bringing my group through Thompson Woods is always my favorite. I love seeing their face in awe as they realize that we actually have a gorgeous forest in the middle of our campus.
If you had $1,000 to donate to the SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit?
I’d put it towards funding our graduate school programs here. For me, having a graduate student that’s received their bachelor’s degree in the same program I’m pursuing can provide a great resource for me. I can ask them questions, gain knowledge, and be inspired by them. Having this extra fund in our graduate school program definitely gives incentive for more graduate students to come here to learn from our professors, while teaching and inspiring the next generation of undergraduates.
You can support SIU students during SIU Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 7, 2018: https://siuday.siu.edu/