Finding a Home through Music

During their time at The University of Mount Union, most students consider their residence hall, apartment or townhouse to be a “home away from home.” But for senior music education major and commuter student Nicklaus Embrogno of Malvern, Ohio, “home away from home” was within the Department of Music.

At Mount Union, Embrogno took full advantage of opportunities within the music program. He was involved with Kappa Kappa Psi, Mu Phi Epsilon, OCMEA, Mount Union Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble, the Purple Raider Marching Band and Brass Quartet for the Mount Union Christmas Festival. In addition, Embrogno recently received the Lucille Ketchum award for the most outstanding senior music education major.

Not only did being involved help to make the department home to Embrogno, but the exceptional professors within the department provided memorable experiences as well.

“The best part of Mount Union's Department of Music is the choral program with Dr. Grant W. Cook III,” Embrogno said. “The choral program enhances your experiences as a learning singer. It gives students opportunities to perform anywhere in the United States and also to be able to go on an international tour every four years.”

To Embrogno, these opportunities to tour nationally and internationally are one thing that sets the music program apart at Mount Union.

“With the international tour, I had my first trip on an airplane, my first international trip outside of the United States, and I got to experience and sing at some of the most famous places in Austria and Germany,” Embrogno said.

As a music education major, Embrogno not only was able to learn a thing or two about music, but he was also able to teach what he has learned.

“My favorite part was learning to play the piano more efficiently. I came to Mount Union with no piano background at all, but left having accompanied students for their vocal juries,” Embrogno said. “This process helped me immensely in student teaching, mostly where I was teaching general music and also playing score reduction in the band room.”

Embrogno credits another exceptional professor in the music department, Dr. Maira Liliestedt, for inspiring his piano studies.

“Dr. Liliestedt has taught me a lot about the piano and I have experienced so many of her stunning recitals, so I have learned so much from her,” he said.

As a commuter, Embrogno highlights the fact that he was still able to be involved on campus, with few difficult challenges.

“All of the ensembles and groups I was in had flexible schedules and set schedules for an entire semester,” Embrogno said. “I knew where to be and when to be there and I knew that information for quite some time.” 

Utilizing the opportunity to commute from home also allowed Embrogno to work throughout college.

“Commuting allowed me to work two part-time jobs during each semester I attended Mount Union,” Embrogno said. “The opportunity to work from home was great because I was in a comfort zone and it made me be more organized, which is never a bad thing.”

As for his future plans, Embrogno hopes to make music programs home for every student.

“My future plans are to teach in a general music classroom with K-5 students. I also would not mind teaching a choral program either,” he said. “Eventually, I would enjoy becoming a principal in an elementary school.”


Phi Kappa Tau Named Finalist for Outstanding Chapter

ALLIANCE, Ohio – On Friday, May 13, the University of Mount Union’s Epsilon chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity was named a Founders Four finalist to become the most outstanding chapter in the nation.

Epsilon was selected by the fraternity’s Award Committee due to their 2015 Borradaile Challenge performance and application response.

Epsilon will be traveling to Sacramento, California on Wednesday July 6, to attend the 62nd National Convention and to present for the Maxwell Trophy; the highest award a chapter can receive. They will face three other colleges including Centre College, Nebraska Wesleyan University,and University of Louisville. The fraternity will send seniors Greg Best and Alec McGinnis and juniors Brandon Lucas and Mike Sovak to present. The chapters will present on the question, “How does your chapter uniquely live the Phi Kappa Tau brand and image and how do you avoid the pitfalls of popularity?”

In 2014, Epsilon won the Maxwell Trophy at the 61st National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Summer of Fun Events Planned for Mount Union Community

The University of Mount Union’s Office of Alumni Engagement is planning several special events this summer for alumni, faculty, staff, students and parents.

Mount Union has teamed up with Cedar Point to offer the Mount Union community a good any day discount to the amusement park. Normally $62 at the gate, Mount Union is offering tickets for only $45. To receive this discount and view additional package discount options, visit Cedar Point’s affiliates page and enter the username: MTUNION and the password: umu2016 when prompted.Both are case sensitive.

On Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m., the Lake County Captains baseball team will be playing against the Cedar Rapids at Classic Park. Through the Alumni Office, you can receive discounts on tickets, food and merchandise vouchers and All-You-Can-Play Kids Zone wristbands. For more information or to order tickets, please click here.

The Alumni Office is also offering discounted tickets and food vouchers to a Mahoning Valley Scrappers baseball game on Friday, July 22 at 7:05 p.m. at Eastwood Field. The Scrappers will be taking on Lowell, and after the game there will be fireworks set to the music of the Foo Fighters. For more information or to order tickets, please click here.

If you can’t make it to the Captains or the Scrappers games, there’s no need to worry, because the Alumni Office is also offering discounted tickets and food vouchers to an Akron Rubber Ducks game on Saturday, July 30 at 7:05 p.m. The Rubber Ducks will take on the Bowie Baysox, and there will be fireworks after the game. For more information, or to order tickets, please click here.

The Alumni Office is offering a deal on a Foodie Field Trip, where participants will go on a Winery Tour bus trip. The day-long adventure will stop at some of the most charming wineries along the Canal Country Wine Trail. Former Canton Repository food writers Saimi Bergmann and Jennifer Mastroianni will be the tour guides for the day. They have ferreted out the tastiest spots and best-kept secrets, and have arranged for exclusive tastings of food and wine at many locations. For more information or to sign up, please click here.

The annual Family Fun Fest will be hosted on Mount Union’s campus on Saturday, August 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Quad. The free, family-friendly event will feature a bounce house, a soccer pool table, an ice cream truck, caricatures, relay fun and more. For more information, click here.

Mount Union Announces Launch of Spectrum Education Center

Kristine TurkoALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union is pleased to announce the launch of the Spectrum Education Center.

The Center provides training and education for people who are interested in autism intervention and advocacy. It also manages the Spectrum Program, which gives Mount Union students the opportunity to explore careers in disability services through semester-long internships.

In addition, educational opportunities are available to members of the community who want to learn more about developmental disabilities.

Dr. Kristine Turko, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Mount Union, is the newly appointed director of the Center. She is the founder of the Spectrum Program, which began in 2014 (formerly known as the Spectrum Education Foundation). She is also a member of the board of The Arc of Ohio for Stark County.

Students enrolled in the Spectrum Program gain applied experience through internships, while taking complementary coursework and earning credits towards graduation. This immersive experience provides unique experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, and is unlike any other program in the country. The Center plans to expand this opportunity to other area colleges and universities.

The Center’s inaugural group of three interns recently completed the Spectrum Program at the following partner sites: The Arc Ohio in North Canton, Ohio, Gentle Brook in Hartville, Ohio and Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children in Canton, Ohio.

This program continues the tradition of Mount Union students providing outreach services to people with autism. In 2007, Turko established a summer internship program with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism for Mount Union students. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) and Cleveland Business Connects (CBC) magazine nominated it as one of the best internships in Northeast Ohio 2010-12.

The internship has been instrumental in preparing a highly trained, educated workforce. To date, 52 Mount Union students have completed the summer internship program, with the majority employed in disability services after graduation.

Turko earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cognitive Psychology from Lehigh University, and a B.S. degree in Psychology from Drexel University. In addition, she completed the required graduate-level coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Before becoming a faculty member at the University of Mount Union in 2006, she served as a visiting assistant professor at Lafayette College and an adjunct professor at Lehigh University. She also conducted research at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute and McNeil Consumer Products, both in Philadelphia, PA.

She continues her research related to: best practice for autism intervention in adult populations, and effective autism intervention training and education models for undergraduate students.

For more information, contact Turko at

Study Abroad Scholarship Named for UMU Professor

Frank TriplettALLIANCE, Ohio – The University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) recently named a scholarship for Dr. Frank Triplett, professor emeritus of foreign languages and cultures at the University of Mount Union.

The scholarship is worth $1,500 and will be awarded to a student who will be studying abroad in the Spring of 2017. The scholarship will continue to be then awarded annually to any student who is a part of USAC and is intending on studying abroad in France.

Triplett also received gifts and emeritus status from USAC for his guidance and support throughout the growth of the organization both nationally and on Mount Union’s campus.

For more information, visit