Rich Gonzales '19, Billings, Mont.

Major: instrumental music education

Why did you choose Concordia?

I was looking at bigger state schools and Concordia was at the bottom of my list. I really liked the idea of the amenities on a bigger campus. Regardless, I toured Concordia super late in my senior year (April) when most of my friends had already committed to their schools. From the minute I walked on campus, I knew this was where I wanted to go. My tour was absolutely amazing! I loved the music department, all of the professors, and really got a feel for the strong supportive community that makes Concordia the place I now love to call home. I quickly learned that a small school can still provide the same amenities that a large school can! 

As a music major, how have you benefitted from being a part of Concordia's music department?

Concordia's music department has top-notch faculty with the benefits of a small school classroom. Our classes are small enough where we all receive the individual attention we need, while also learning high-level content from our distinguished faculty. A wide variety of ensembles gives students a glimpse at what working with a professional ensemble looks like.

Every year, the Concordia band, choir and orchestra take on an all-expenses-paid domestic tour. Traveling and performing among your peers in different venues every night is such a rewarding experience and one that should not be taken for granted. Additionally, the Fargo-Moorhead area is so supportive of the arts and there are always opportunities to perform off campus. Personally, I perform alongside many of Concordia's music faculty in the semi-professional Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. It's a great experience as an underclassman – and I even get paid! 

What has been a highlight of your college career so far?

Meeting all the amazing people here at Concordia! Coming from Montana all on my own, I was worried about making friends. I remember texting my mom the first night of college and saying, "You have nothing to worry about. I've already made so many friends – I think this place was meant for me." I felt so welcomed and definitely have made so many lifelong friends while fulfilling my dream of studying music. 

You work as a student ambassador. What advice would you give a prospective student?

Tour as many schools as you can (especially Concordia)! Don't let other people persuade you about your college choices. I was really against a small school but kept an open mind anyway. I took a chance on something and it was the best decision I ever made. I knew I made the right choice when I went home for the summer after my freshman year because I felt like I was leaving my true home behind in Minnesota.