By Frances Clause
Laura Ogram and 54 other musicians from the Dana School of Music’s wind ensemble performed at Carnegie Hall in 2015, becoming one of her favorite experiences during her music career.
This was Ogram’s second year at Youngstown State University and fourth year of her music education degree with a focus on French horn after transferring from Kent State University.
But after graduating from YSU in 2017 and spending two years teaching, this wasn’t the end of her journey at YSU.
“At the end of my second year, I realized that this wasn’t my passion, and I had always been passionate about music. … But I think I overlooked the aspect of teaching,” Ogram said. “I don’t think my personality necessarily lines itself to being in such a social setting all the time.”
Facing the decision of what step to take next, Ogram decided to return to YSU as an accounting major at the Williamson College of Business Administration.
“I love it so far; it’s like a complete 180 from music. Which, I love both, but I like that I can have a passion for something else as well,” she said.
Switching majors is more common than some may believe. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80% of students in the United States change their major at least once.
And for some students, switching majors is not the only aspect they want to change. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found 37.2% of college students transferred institutions at least once within six years.
“I definitely had some pushback with my decision. … A lot of people told me, ‘It’s the district you’re teaching in. If you were in a different setting or in a different district, you would be happy,’” Ogram said.
“But for the most part, a lot of my previous professors, family members, friends were all very supportive because I think they saw I wasn’t really thriving being a teacher,” she added.
Elliot Kwolek, a graduate clarinet student who played in ensembles with Ogram, said he is excited to see what she will do in her new field.
“[Ogram] always seemed so determined to do music, so when I heard she switched careers, I was surprised,” he said. “However, I know she has a good work ethic and can make the career switch easily. A new start is a new outlook on life.”
Noah Cline, a French horn performance major, said Ogram was always helpful during his first year of college.
“I can understand that music wasn’t what she actually wanted to do, but I’m so incredibly happy she found something that she enjoys,” he said.
Ogram said although she would have saved a lot more money, she would not change anything about her college journey.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am, and I still will always have a place in my heart for music,” she said. “I think having been a teacher, I have so much respect for teachers. I just feel that really gave me a sense of what it means to work hard and push through even if you’re not in the greatest situation for yourself.”
Ogram offered advice for students who are considering changing their major or institution.
“I kind of made the decision all by myself, and I wish I would have reached out to mentors, to professors or even just to family,” she said. “I think it’s important to talk to the people around you.”