Mason Music Ambassadors

The Mason Music Ambassadors are a group of student leaders who are nominated by our faculty to serve as student liaisons for our prospective and incoming music students. Using their strengths and talents, they build relationships with prospective students, helping each of them become contributing members to our Mason Music community. Our Mason Music Ambassadors have identified their top five strengths using the StrengthsFinder Assessment. 25 out of the 34 strengths are represented among this year’s Ambassadors.

Impressed by our current students? Check out what our alumni are up to!

Our 2020-2021 Mason Music Ambassadors:

Ryan Salak

Instrument: Trumpet

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Omaha, NE

Strengths: Includer, Positivity, Empathy, Developer, Consistency

Ryan is a senior Music Education major from Omaha, Nebraska. His primary instrument is trumpet, but he also plays piano in multiple jazz/funk ensembles on campus. He is an active member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity and an Operations Crew Leader for the Green Machine. Ryan is also in the Honors College.

Rosie Wright

Instrument: Voice

Major: Vocal Performance

Hometown: Harrisonburg, VA

Strengths: Harmony, Futuristic, Connectedness, Developer, Input

Rosie Wright is a junior vocal performance major from Harrisonburg, VA studying with professor Patricia Miller. She is serves as the social committee chair for Mason’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and is actively involved in Mason Opera. She works at the Center for the Arts ticket office as a ticket seller and cantors at Our Lady of Victory Catholic church in Washington, DC. When she isn’t in class or practicing, Rosie enjoys going thrifting or watching her favorite show, Parks and Rec.

Nairobi King

Instrument: Voice

Major: Vocal Performance

Hometown: Chesapeake, VA

Strengths: Strategic, Futuristic, Achiever, Discipline, Connectedness

Nairobi King is a junior this year at George Mason majoring in Voice Performance. She is in Professor Miller’s studio and is an active member in Mason’s opera program. When Nairobi isn’t running around the music building she is a member of the women’s club lacrosse team and she also enjoys spending time with her friends, or reading. She looks forward to this school year and to be working with the music office with the music ambassadors.

Teresa Jenkins

Instrument: Clarinet

Major: Clarinet Performance

Hometown: Long Island, NY

Strengths: Individualization, Positivity, Includer, Responsibility, Developer

Teresa Jenkins, originally from Long Island, New York is a junior Clarinet Performance Major studying under Dr. Kathy Mulcahy. She has been an active performer in the GMU Symphonic Band, Mason Wind Symphony and the Mason Symphony Orchestra. Currently, she is the Sergeant at Arm’s in Mason’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and the librarian of the George Mason University Clarinet Choir. Teresa is passionate about the clarinet and events centered around creating a community of passionate musicians.

Kathleen Walsh

Instrument: Euphonium

Major: Music Education

Hometown: New Jersey

Strengths: Woo, Communication, Activator, Significance, Developer 

Kathleen, a junior from northern New Jersey, is a music education major studying euphonium under Dr. Mark Jenkins. She has been a member of the Symphonic Band, Jazz Workshop, Brass Ensemble, Green Machine, and Tuba- Euphonium Ensemble. She is currently the treasurer for the George Mason Tuba Euphonium Ensemble (GMUTEE). Outside of the school of music, she is currently a sister of Kappa Delta Sorority. Kathleen hopes to be a music teacher to young musicians, and is excited for Mason to create new and exciting opportunities for her!

Brian Bera

Instrument: Bass

Major: Performance 

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Brian Bera is a junior from Baltimore, Maryland, studying double bass performance under Professor Glenn Dewey. He is an active performer and teacher, having played with the McLean Symphony, the Washington Philharmonic Association, the GMU Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony, the Mason Symphony Orchestra, and Mason Jazz Combos and Pit Orchestras. He has also been recognized as a participant in the United States Air-force Band Collegiate Symposium and as the winner of the JMU Young Composers’ Contest. He is ecstatic at the opportunity to join the Mason Music Ambassadors in working with current, new, and prospective Mason music students! When he’s not practicing, he’s feeling guilty but also binging NBC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’

Victoria Behrens

Instrument: Violin

Major: Violin Performance and Pedagogy

Hometown: Blue Ridge, Georgia

Strengths: Futuristic, Achiever, Positivity, Woo, Significance

Victoria is an undergraduate student at George Mason University pursuing violin performance and pedagogy studying under June Huang. She is currently in a quartet with cellist Eddie Adams, who was recently featured on CBS Morning News. She is also a member of the George Mason Symphony Orchestra and chamber ensembles. Victoria is the principal second violinist of the Mason Symphony Orchestra, and also serves as the orchestra manager for the MSO. Victoria has 13+ years of playing and performing experience beginning at the age of 8 along with 8+ years of orchestra experience. She has performed at Spivey Hall, The Rialto Center for the Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, the British Embassy, and many more. Victoria has performed in masterclasses with violinists such as Gregory Fulkerson, Irina Muresanu, Rene Jolles, Kirsten Yon, Hal Grossman, and Oleg Krysa. After graduation, Victoria plans to attend graduate school to receive a master degree in violin performance. Her career plans include teaching private violin lessons, free-lancing, performing, etc. in the D.C. Metro area.

Victoria is dedicated and passionate about music, violin, and teaching. Music has always been a part of her life and wishes to spread the joy that is has brought her to others.

Deirdre Tyler

Instrument: Saxophone

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Floral Park, NY

Strengths: Input, Achiever, Arranger, Futuristic, Learner

Deirdre Tyler is a Junior music education major from Long Island, New York. She studies with Professor Ed Fraedrich and is a part of the George Mason Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, and Saxophone Quartet. Outside of the school of music, Deirdre is a sister of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women where she serves as Director of Social Events. Deirdre hopes to be a music teacher to musicians at the elementary, middle, and high school level while also having a private saxophone studio of her own.

Kendra Callahan

Instrument: Voice

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Culpeper, VA

Strengths: Discipline, Learner, Strategic, Achiever, Responsibility

My name is Kendra Callahan and I am a Sophomore Choral Music Education Major. I participated in choirs all my life including All State and All County choirs. I participate in many clubs throughout high school and into my college career including, ACDA, where I serve as President Elect and Ed Rising Collegiate. I am from a small hometown called Culpeper, Va where we have two high schools and the choir was around 30 people at max! My goal is to become an elementary choir teacher with an adaptive classroom to help students with severe disabilities. I have been given so many opportunities since coming to Mason and am so excited to help others find their own through being a Music Ambassador this year!

Kaitlyn Burns

Instrument: Flute

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Purcellville, VA

Strengths: Restorative, Learner, Achiever, Discipline, Focus

Hi everyone! My name is Kaitlyn Burns and I will be serving as one of your Mason Music Ambassadors for the 2020-2021 school year! I am a sophomore music education major and a member of the GMU Flute Studio. In addition to my leadership involvement within the School of Music, I also serve as the Treasurer of Educators Rising Collegiate and I have served on numerous committees for other organizations at Mason. I am thrilled to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to work with all students, faculty, and staff in the School of Music!

Grayson Crouch

Instrument: Piano

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Alexandria, VA

Strengths: Belief, Responsibility, Includer, Positivity, Developer

Grayson Crouch is a Junior Choral Music Education major from Alexandria, Virginia. His primary instrument is piano studying under Dr. John Paul Healey. He has been a member of University Singers, University Chorale, Green Machine and he is also serving as the Social Media Chair for GMU’s American Choral Directors Association(ACDA) Chapter. Grayson hopes to become a high school choir teacher in Virginia and thanks to the wonderful faculty at Mason for their support and care.  He has been fortunate to have been given many opportunities to succeed here at George Mason University!

Allan Fogelson

Instrument: Guitar, Cello

Major: Jazz Studies

Hometown: Leesburg, VA

Allan Fogelson is a musician from Northern Virginia. He is a junior in the Jazz Studies program where he studies guitar with Dr. Shawn Purcell and cello with Dr. Dorotea Racz. After college he desires to perform and record.

Hannah Pennisi

Instrument: Steel Pan

Major: Jazz Studies

Hometown: Catonsville, Maryland

Strengths: Woo, Empathy, Learner, Positivity, Communication 

Hannah Pennisi, a multi-instrumentalist from Catonsville, Maryland, is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. She transferred to George Mason University in 2019 specifically to study under steel pan virtuoso, Professor Victor Provost. She has had the extreme privilege to work with world-renowned steel pannists including Ken “Professor” Philmore, Andy Narell, Jeff Narell, and Duvone Stewart. Hannah is thrilled to represent the Mason Steel Pan Studio as the first female steel pan major! As a Mason Music Ambassador, she is eager to give prospective students a warm welcome and to help them find their place at Mason. Outside of the music program, Hannah is a member of George Mason University’s chapter of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, petting dogs, cooking, and being active outside. 

Jaelin Mitchell

Instrument: Voice

Major: Music Education and Vocal Performance

Hometown: Norfolk, VA

Jaelin, a native of Norfolk, VA is a music major with a double concentration in music education and vocal performance. He also minors in African and African-American Studies.

Graduating from Norfolk’s Booker T. Washington High School in 2019, he earned the title of salutatorian of his graduating class! He also attended the Governor’s School for the Arts where he was a member of the Vocal Music department.

He has received awards from the Optimist Club of America, VANATS, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Walt Disney Inc., Urban League of Hampton Roads, NAACP, and the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, and James City County.

In addition to being a Mason Music Ambassador, he serves as the Virtual Learning Community Mentor for the College of Visual and Performing Arts! Additionally, he is a proud office asHe also serves as treasurer for the Mason Chapter of ACDA and The Anointed Vessels of Unity. He believes that the development of the youth is quintessential to our community’s future. He says it’s our duty to nurture the future to be the best they can possibly be.

Eduardo Fajardo

Instrument: Flute

Major: Performance

Hometown: West Orange, NJ

From West Orange, NJ, Eduardo Fajardo, 20, is a Junior at George Mason University. Eduardo, under the teachings of Julianna Nickel, is pursuing a BM in Music Performance. Though having started his journey with the flute at almost 16 years old, he has previously served as the Principal Flutist for two seasons at the Ravina Youth Symphony in Maplewood, NJ, has been accepted into the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s Flute Choir in 2017, and received a full scholarship to attend the New Jersey Woodwind Studio’s Chamber Ensemble Summer Intensive Program in 2017, all whilst studying under Natasha Loomis. During his time at Mason, Eduardo has served as a member of the Symphonic Band, the Piccoloist and rotating Assistant Principal of the Mason Symphony Orchestra, and as the Assistant Principal for Mason’s Wind Symphony. Eduardo was selected to perform as a featured soloist in Mason’s 2019 Annual Honors Recital, and performed for Dr. Christopher Chafee in a masterclass this past February. With the GMU Flute Choir, he has performed on the Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, as well as this year’s Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention. Eduardo continues to be actively involved in the School of Music by serving as the Assistant Music Librarian for the Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony, as well as a volunteer Teaching Assistant for the Woodwind Methods course led by Dr. Mulcahy. As a first-generation Salvadoran-American, Eduardo actively enjoys reading and discussing literature dealing with intersectional issues, with emphasis on topics surrounding race, sexual orientation, the gender binary and expanding beyond the gender binary.

Dominique Bianco

Instrument: Voice

Major: Jazz Studies 

Hometown: Staten Island, NY

Originally from Staten Island, New York, Dominique recently Moved to VA in 2017 and currently is a Junior Jazz Studies Major. Dominique has been Singing, Writing, and Recording music for over 8 years and specializes in Jazz, Musical Theatre, R&B, and Pop Genres. While attending George Mason University Dominique can not only be seen as a performer in the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Mason Jazz Ensemble, Mason Jazz Workshop, Mason Jazz Combos, and at various Mason Jazz Vocal Nights as a part of Dr. Darden Purcell’s studio but can be seen in different venues from the D.C./Metro area to New York City. Dominique is currently developing her social media presence with her YouTube channel and has been covering jazz and pop songs like “Social Call” by Gigi Gryce and “Best Part” by H.E.R & Daniel Caesar.

Sonja Phillips-Thomas

Instrument: Guitar

Major: Music Technology and Film Production

Hometown: Springfield, VA

Strengths: Restorative, Empathy, Futuristic, Adaptability, Strategic  

Sonja Phillips-Thomas is an undergraduate student double majoring in film and music from Springfield, Virginia. She is a classical guitar student of Matthew Trkula and a composition student of Robert Gilliam. She received the NAMM President’s Innovation Award. Currently, she is a Teacher Assistant for the Mason Veteran Songwriting Series for Military Kids class. When she is not practicing, she enjoys sci-fi shows and making digital art. After graduating she plans to go to graduate school for Music Composition. Her career goals include film/television scoring, producing, cinematography, editing, etc. She filmed, wrote, and directed a short film she is currently working on scoring.

Noah Dengler

Instrument: Percussion

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Frederick, MD

Strengths: Ideation, Individualization, Deliberative, Developer, Restorative

Noah Dengler is percussionist from Frederick, Maryland pursuing a degree in Music Education. At GMU, Noah is an active member of the percussion group and wind symphony. Noah has also performed with the symphonic band and for Mason Opera’s production of Mesdames de la Halle. Outside of school Noah performs with the Bushwackers Drum and Bugle Corps and teaches marching band at various high schools around Maryland.

Calvin Zubaly (photo coming soon)

Instrument: Guitar

Major: Music Education

Hometown: Falls Church, VA