UNI School of Music

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Alumni & Friends

UNI School of Music always loves to hear from alumni and friends. Have you been performing, educating, traveling, composing, conducting or otherwise involved in your community since graduating? Contact Us and let us know! Or fill out our online Alumni Response Form and keep us posted on your newest projects. And when you’re in the Cedar Falls area, there is always an opportunity for you to visit and show your school spirit by supporting an event or stopping by to say hello.

Recent Alumni News


'67 Linda (Lauck) Shoesmith, BA, Bettendorf, is retired and enjoying the senior years with a ukulele club, church and the community. She retired from teaching math at Scott Community College.



'71 Mary (Larsen) Semler, BA, Hampton, received an Award of Merit for 40 years of leadership in the Franklin County Arts Council. In 1978, she founded the Franklin Chorale, which is an auditioned choral ensemble. The group was featured at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert, under the direction of Joseph Giunta, and was chosen to perform at an ACDA District Convention.


'79 Diane (Dewall) Ballard, BM, Gahanna, OH, is completing her 42nd consecutive year as a music educator, with the last 35 at Gahanna Jefferson Schools. She was the first recipient of the Role of Distinction Award from the Ohio State School of Music in March 2019 with a unanimous nomination from the faculty to recognize outstanding teaching in a public school. In summer 2021, she was guest conductor for OSU's Middle School Concert Band Academy.



'90 Sarah Robinson, BM, Bloomington, IN, earned a doctorate degree in music education from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University December 2019.



'00 Tamara Sanikidze, MM, Austin, TX, is head of voice division at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.


'04 Tim Jones, BM, Waukee, received his skydiving "A" license and plans to continue thrill seeking and the next license level.


'04 Nick Oswald, BM, Ankeny, was selected by the Iowa Choral Directors Association to have his 9th Grade Bass Clef Choir perform at the 2020 ICDA Choral Showcase.


'04 Jesse Wozniak, BA, Pittsburgh, PA, published a book titled "Policing Iraq: Legitimacy, Democracy, and Empire in a Developing State."


'07 Sharra Wagner, MM, Kansas City, MO, earned her DMA in clarinet performance from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in 2013. She currently serves as director of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation, as well as artistic director, vice president and clarinetist for newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (newEar.org), and as principal clarinetist of Northland Symphony Orchestra.


'09 Michelle Yoshimura‑Smith, BM, Des Moines, was named one of the 40 under 40 by the Des Moines Business Record for 2021. She is a vice president and business initiatives consultant with Wells Fargo.



'10 Megan (Nolte) Schmitt, BA, Cedar Rapids, earned an MS degree in business analytics from the University of Iowa in May 2020.


'14 Stacia Fortune, BA, MM '16, Lawrence, KS, earned her doctorate in clarinet performance from the University of Kansas in 2019 and is a professor of clarinet and saxophone at Kansas Wesleyan University.


'15 Aaron Ottmar, BM, Iowa City, married Alyssa (Adamec) Ottmar '16 on 6/13/2020 in front of their combined families. They started dating after they traveled with the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra to Brazil (in 2014 with Dr. Rebecca Burkhardt). In addition, this was shortly after Aaron was studying viola (for his High String Methods class) with Alyssa (for her String Pedagogy class). Both of these classes were with Dr. Julia Bullard (who had paired us together for lessons). For this (and so much more), Alyssa and Aaron are forever grateful for the impact that the School of Music has had on their lives and are forever blessed for their experience at UNI. Go Cats Go and U‑N‑I Fight!


'15 Ben Owen, BM, Cincinnati, OH, earned an MA in choral conducting and pedagogy from the University of Iowa in 2020 and is director of music ministries at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, OH.


'16 Sarah Baker, BM, Casa Grande, AZ, is in graduate school for wind band conducting at Northern Arizona after being a middle school band director for four years.


'16 Tim Ferry, BA, Austin, TX, is a piano teacher and owner/operator of Never Board Games LLC, an independent board game publishing company.


'17 Emma (Swensen) Ferry, BA, Austin, TX, is a digital account manager with ATD Partners and manages local band, Hudson Road.


'17 Kelly Noltner, MM, Cedar Falls, performed the role of Chrysothemis in "Elektra" by Strauss with Dramatic Voices Program Berlin in their Summer 2021 virtual program.




'07 Carissa (Stout) Dreier, BM, married Derek Dreier 7/4/2020 in a private backyard ceremony. They are hoping to have a larger ceremony and reception summer 2021. They were freshmen at UNI together, both in concert band and lived in Rider Hall, but didn't officially meet until ten years later performing a gig together.


'15 Aaron Ottmar, BM, married Alyssa (Adamec) Ottmar, BA '16, BM '16, on 6/13/2020.


'16 Tim Ferry, BA, married Emma (Swensen) Ferry, BA '17, on 6/10/2017.




'13 Melissa (Mogan) Vining, BM, and Kyle Vining, Jamaica Plain, MA, daughter Julia born Dec. 2020.



Do you have some notable news that you'd like to share with the UNI School of Music and your fellow alumni? Contact us to let us know!