Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University > Alumni & Friends > Stay Connected > MY Times > Posts > Young Alumni Spotlight: Emily "Milly" Cole '09
Emily Cole

Name: Emily "Milly" Cole ’09

Millikin major:
Bachelor’s of music, vocal performance

Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
Since 2012, I’ve been a professional jazz singer in Montpellier, France. I both sing and play percussion in a seven-piece old school swing band called “Hippocampus Jass Gang.” In addition to releasing two full-length albums, we’ve performed thoughout France, as well as in Switzerland and Germany. As of last year, I’ve started another septet, “The White Chocolate Drops,” with a repertoire entirely dedicated to that of Billie Holiday.

Why did you choose MU?
Millikin offers the students individual attention. My voice teacher, who is now retired, Professor Lois Yadeau, was a fine example of this outlook. When I first arrived to Millkin, my vocal health was not in the best shape, so she saw to it that I get in contact with a speech pathologist and ENT doctor. For a few months during my first semester, I was on complete vocal rest. The sense of community in the music department helped me feel right at home even while communicating just with a little dry-erase board and marker.

What activities did you participate in as a student?
I participated in University Choir under the brilliant direction of Brad Holmes. What an opportunity it was to go to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for a summer tour. Other highlights included running in the Penguin in the Park 5K race and assisting the children’s choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church near campus.

Who was your most memorable MU professor and why?
Travis Stimeling, former assistant professor of music. His infectious enthusiasm in teaching ethnomusicology inspired me greatly. He gave me indispensible advice on life, especially concerning songwriting and expanding my knowledge of new music genres.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
Spending a summer abroad in Italy in “The Operatic Experience” program. Between the intense rehearsals, weekly voice lessons and gelato, I received a good taste of the vibrant Italian culture. We performed Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
Thanks to Millikin, I’ve developed a solid work ethic. I still vocalize every day with exercises that my voice teachers taught me. The curriculum and classical voice training has given me a good base to grow from as a young jazz musician.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
The best aspect of my work is the play of energy between us musicians and the public at concerts. Living in the thriving music/swing dance scene of Montpellier has given me the opportunity to connect with new people and thus meet some fascinating individuals.

What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
I think basing myself in a foreign country and learning French fluently. When I first left the US, I wanted to give myself a “shock.” This adventure will continue to be challenging and highly rewarding.

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
I expect my musical projects to have evolved in five years. For example, I would love to live in Sweden, and study under Lindha Kallerdahl, a Swedish free jazz singer. If I were to go back to school, I would be most interested in getting a master’s degree in speech pathology to be able to help singers and public speakers develop healthy speaking habits. I also have the hope to backpack through Asia one of these year…

What advice would you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
1. Never underestimate your gut instinct.
2. Let failure be your friend.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously, or you’ll be at risk of missing out!


Want to be featured in the "Young Alumni Spotlight?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn Cantwell ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured in each issue of MY Times.


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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL