Wilkes University

Courtney McMonagle

Senior Courtney McMonagle Leads As Drum Major for the Marching Colonels

Wilkes University senior Courtney McMonagle marches to the beat of her own song while leading the Marching Colonels as head drum major. She’s been able to create a unique campus experience by combining her academic goals with activities she loves.

Courtney M.As a history and political science duel-major, McMonagle doesn’t just study the past, she also made history, being part of the first marching band season at Wilkes in 2014.

“I was looking at schools and for a while Wilkes was not my top choice,” McMonagle said. “But I looked at it because it is a good school and they announced that they would have a marching band with the inaugural season being fall 2014.” A meeting Dr. Philip Simon, director of bands and associate professor of music helped her to decide in favor of Wilkes and the opportunity to join the new marching band.

After a foot injury left McMonagle unable to march her junior year, she wanted to be on the field, amidst the action in her final season.

“Dr. Simon looked at me and said, ‘would you consider being drum major next year?’ and I laughed and him and said no, I wanted to march my senior year.”

After being asked a second time, she was unsure she could handle conducting an entire marching band.  After being reassured by Simon that her leadership skills are what made her a stand out, he guided her on developing conducting skills.

When McMonagle learned she would be the new drum major, she was in total disbelief. “The email went out at 10 o’clock that night and it said, “Head Drum Major: Courtney McMonagle,” I almost threw the phone across the room, I was shocked.”

When not on the field conducting her fellow bandmates, McMonagle has a packed extra-curricular schedule, including playing in Civic Band and participating in two honor societies, Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, and Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society. With Phi Alpha Theta, McMonagle has presented her research at two conferences with hopes to present again in New Orleans this year at the organization’s biennial convention.

McMonagle also served as a Kirby Junior Scholar in the 2016-2017 academic year which created a networking opportunity for future employment. Kirby Scholars receive hands-on experience in their chosen discipline while serving as a resource for businesses at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes. Through the Kirby Center, McMonagle connected with PlanGuru. She began working for the company that provides thousands of small businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits and accountants with the skills and tools needed to project and interpret financial results. She’s continuing to work there during the academic year.

“I'm their executive assistant,” she said. “So I run the meetings, I schedule meetings, write anything they may need, make phone calls, that kind of stuff.”

In a short time with the company, she was offered a full-time position after graduation.

“I never thought I would be marketable with just an undergrad degree but now all of a sudden I have job offers,” she said.

While keeping her options open, McMonagle plans to take the Law School Admission Test to potentially secure a spot in law school in fall 2018. She’s considering Boston College and Boston University as well as Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law.

Coordinating her classes, work and extracurricular activities is quite the feat; McMonagle wouldn’t have it any other way – especially when it comes to marching band.

“While the time commitment is different than it is in high school, it’s still a lot to manage with college life, but it’s definitely worth it. There is nothing more fun to me than marching out onto the field, knowing your show, knowing your stuff and just killing it.”


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