Caitlin Champiny has her future wrapped around her finger. She will be graduating in the top 1 percent of her class at McKinney Boyd High School, and it doesn't stop there:
She was named All-State in band, a member of the National Honor Society, is first chair in the Bronco Band for her exquisite talent with her clarinet, and has a majority of her college education paid for.
That last part she's quite excited about, too.
On January 7th, Caitlin received the Texas Music Educators Association Past Presidents Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship, or TMEA for short. The scholarship is for anyone who is an undergraduate and wants to be a music educator. The scholarship is valued at $2,500 per year for 5 years, as long as the student is continuously taking classes for their music educator’s degree.
“I heard about it from my music teacher and he told me to apply for it," Caitlin said. “So I thought yeah, I’ll go for it.”
Even though her scholarship only applies for Texas schools, that wasn’t an issue for this passionate musician whose class rank is 5th out of 636 students at Boyd High School.
“I want to go to the University of Houston because all of my music teachers said Texas Tech or U of H were great music schools,” Caitlin said. “At first I wanted to go to Tech because it is more popular, but it's in the middle of nowhere and I’m one of the people who can’t stand not being 5 minutes away from a grocery store. And the U of H campus and people are so nice and as of right now, they are offering me the most money, so they’re basically paying for college all 4 years which is so nice!”
The scholarship requirements included an essay on why the applicant wanted to be a music educator, a recommendation letter from her music director and another recommendation from an outside source. Although it seems like a handful, Caitlin had no issues because she discovered her passion in the 6th grade.
“I picked the clarinet when I joined band in the 6th grade," Caitlin said. “At first, like every other girl I wanted to play the flute because its girly and fun. I remembered watching Spongebob on TV and saw Squidward playing the clarinet and I always thought ‘oh that’s so ugly!’ but my teacher said I should try it and when I did it sounded awesome, even if it was a honk!”
Her love and spectacular talent for music has generated a lot of support at home, and even her brother plays the tuba in the Bronco Band, which takes up about 10 hours a week for both talented students.
“Everyone at home loves it!” Caitlin said, “Even though they didn’t really like it at first, but after my freshman year it grew on them and they are so great and supportive and come to all my events.”
As every senior knows, leaving high school behind is a big deal and when you’re doing everything for the last time, every moment counts.
“I’ll miss the high school marching band experience more than anything,” Caitlin said. “In college its more to please the crowd but in high school you work on a show from beginning to end and it’s more theatrical and college is more ‘rah rah,' so I’m really going to miss that aspect of it.”
Beginning a new chapter of her life at the University of Houston in the fall, participating in its band and studying for her Music Educator’s degree will take up almost all of her time, but Caitlin’s passion for music will always be an important part of her life.
“Being involved in music and band is a lot of fun,” Caitlin said. “I know I’m biased, but being able to create music and something so beautiful, especially with your friends is awesome. I know it sounds cheesy, but being lost in the music just relives your stress and clears your mind.”
TSB Teen Talk columnist Christine Baker is a senior at McKinney High. Watch for her column on Fridays.