Finding her voice: Adriana Martinez has stepped into the spotlight at Millikin University

The senior Music Education major plans to bring the joy of music to students following graduation.

DECATUR, Ill. – As a child, Millikin University senior Music Education major Adriana Martinez always hummed and sang, but the enjoyment of performing faded as they grew older. 

“When I was little, I sang all the time, but when I grew up, I got really shy and stopped singing. I didn’t want to sing in front of anyone,” Adriana said. “But in my first year of high school, I did a musical, which I thought was a lot of fun. Ever since I’ve been in some kind of ensemble singing.”

Adriana’s path to Millikin became clear when they learned of the opportunity to combine a love of performing with teaching as a Musical Education major. 

“My choir teacher in high school, Christopher Cherry ’04, was a Millikin alum, and as soon as I mentioned that I wanted to be a teacher, he said that I had to go to his alma mater,” Adriana said. “He told me about the program and all they do in Music Education and that it is a great school. He helped me with the whole Millikin process.”

As Adriana has continued to step into the spotlight, their busy schedule is filled with opportunities that have pushed them into new areas of performing, including being a member of Millikin’s Treble Choir, University Choir, OneVoice Vocal Jazz Ensemble, BlueBop Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Dissonance A Capella. 

Adriana Martinez

“I’ve been in so many different ensembles and solo opportunities here at Millikin and I enjoy creating a sound with others. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone in performing as a soloist,” she said. “That is something different that I wasn’t comfortable with when I first arrived. Now I’m excited to get a chance to do that and continue it when I leave.”

As Adriana prepares for their student teaching experience in the second semester of her senior year, they feel Millikin has prepared her well by providing bountiful experiences in the classroom. 

Adriana Martinez

“One of the great things about Millikin’s Education program is that they get you into schools immediately. My first year during COVID was observing videos online, but for my sophomore year, as soon as we got the OK, I was in schools all over Decatur, preparing and teaching some lessons,” Adriana said. “I am so excited to graduate and get straight into the classroom. I think a lot of people are nervous about it, but with the experience that I have had, I feel very prepared.”

Adriana has also taken advantage of several Performance Learning opportunities at Millikin. Each Saturday, they co-teach a Music & Movement class through the Millikin Community Arts Academy, which is a music appreciation class for babies and preschoolers. 

“We sing and play games, and the kids interact and play instruments. I love to do it,” Adriana said. “There is a lot of development that will happen with a baby’s brain that is amazing. They retain much of it, whether they can give it back to you or not. It is cool to see the kids grow, and the class is what I look forward to the most every week.”

Millikin's Vocal Festival brings Central Illinois high school students onto campus for a 48-hour singing competition.

As the President of the American Choral Directors Association chapter at Millikin, Adriana leads the annual Millikin Vocal Fest. The event brings Central Illinois high school students onto campus for a 48-hour singing competition. 

“In less than 48 hours, they get brand new music, learn it, and perform it. I was in charge of that last year, and I am doing the same thing this year,” Adriana said. “It’s a huge event and students can also audition with Millikin Music Department faculty while they are here.”

Starting their college career at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge, but as campus life returned to normal, Adriana made it a goal to make the most out of each opportunity and continue to build the Millikin community. 

Adriana Martinez

“Overall, I think I got the absolute most that I could have gotten here out of Millikin. I love being a part of things and being in leadership positions. I’ve had my moments where I’ve been in those positions, and I’ve had those moments where I’ve just been a team member,” Adriana said. “If there is anything else I can get out of Millikin, I will probably get it this semester. I’m excited to graduate and have a classroom to teach my kids and influence someone else to come to Millikin and pursue Music Education.”