Featured Students

Featured Student: Anissa Quilling


  • Name: Anissa Quilling
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Music Education with a Nonprofit Leadership Studies Minor
  • Hometown: St. Louis, MO
  • Quirky Fact: I can moonwalk fairly well
  • Favorite thing to get on campus: Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbooks
  • Favorite movie: Rush Hour and anything with Will Smith
  • Favorite book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • What you like to do on campus: I like to hang out in the music practice rooms to sing, write, and play the piano.


Tell us about yourself:

My name is Anissa Quilling and I am a senior Music Education major with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership. I am from St. Louis Missouri and I am currently in my fifth year at Murray State. I enjoy singing and writing music as well as poetry and spoken word. I also love teaching, dancing, and step.


What made you come to Murray State?

My high school choir director came to Murray State and he always talked about how great it was. So, I had to check it out for myself when it came time to look into colleges. When I got here, everyone was so friendly and the professors were really approachable. It was obvious that they knew what they were doing, it was plain to me that they cared about my wellbeing even though I wasn’t a student here at the time. I was able to take a voice lesson with Dr. Randall Black, which I really enjoyed. He is now my vocal professor and he has also been my voice coach for the past four and a half years, ever since I first began attending Murray State.

Who have you enjoyed working with?

One of the many professors whom I’ve enjoyed working with, is Dr. Randall Black. He is an awesome vocal professor and I really feel like I have matured vocally since I have been here because of his teaching. Even outside of the voice lesson atmosphere, he is one of those approachable professors who I can come to for advice without feeling awkward, weird, intimidated or judged. He can relate to us and really tries to understand and listen to his students. Dr. Black even goes so far as being willing to change the way that he approaches things or teaches things in order to make the students happy and comfortable in their learning. I’m really going to miss him when I graduate in May.


Who inspires you in life?

My mother inspires me every day. She’s such a hardworking, intelligent and strong woman, and always has been. She is the person I go to for the best possible Godly advice. My grandmother, Rosetta, and Aunt Patricia are also great and inspiring women in my life and hold a special place in my heart.

What made you choose the major that you did?

I really love to teach, and so I started off as a Music Education major. I feel really passionately about teaching and sharing music with others. I see music education as another opportunity of contributing to the welfare of others, no matter the age. I have actually taken all of the music education classes. However, I recently switched my actual degree to just Music and added the Nonprofit Leadership Studies minor because I recently felt the calling to go back to my hometown in St. Louis and strive to make a difference there, but not necessarily under the public school umbrella. What I plan to do is start a nonprofit and social enterprise for our inner city youth.

Work/projects related to your major:

I am actually a McNair Scholar here at Murray State, and we do research projects through that program. One of the research projects that I am working on right now is focused on the nonprofit sector.  I will research different nonprofits and social enterprises that are focused on youth development and interview the founders and staff of those businesses and organizations about their experiences and successes. This should help me in my future endeavors to change the lives of youth through music and social enterprise. Another project that I will be working on over the summer in Merida, Mexico, where I plan to study abroad, will be more music focused as far as the teaching of the voice and teaching different styles of music. I plan to examine the styles and genres of music which are in Merida and come up with vocal exercises and helpful techniques in order to assist anyone who might want to sing that style of music.


Future plans:

After graduation, I plan to immediately move back to St. Louis, MO. and find a job, preferably teaching music or working in some sort of youth development or faith based nonprofit. I also plan to take graduate courses in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. Eventually, I will open a cafe with a connected nonprofit youth center. I plan to use music education and social enterprise to empower our youth, assisting and motivating them through musical expression, leadership and mentorship opportunities, job training, spiritual growth and beyond. There are too many youth, especially in my hometown, who are losing, and even taking, their lives. Not many young people get the chance to even go to college, so I just want to try and make a difference in their lives even if it is only through an after school type program. I still consider myself a Music Education major, but nonprofit is really where my heart is right now.

Anissa is a teacher’s dream. Her natural gifts and talent are of the highest order, she is extremely hard-working, and she is such a terrific colleague to her fellow students (encouraging and positive) that she makes everyone with whom she comes into contact better for their association with her.    -Randall Black


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