ABERDEEN, S.D. – Two successful Northern State University students graduating May 10 will continue their studies – and their friendship – at the same prestigious university.
Ethan Brown, who is active in the NSU Honors Program and Student Association, and Anthony Rohr, an accomplished NSU music and theater student, have both been accepted into the University of Kansas. Both received significant financial aid from KU – Brown received the Jayhawk Scholarship to attend the university’s law school, and Rohr received a graduate teaching assistantship and stipend to pursue a Master of Music in Voice.
Brown, a native of Flower Mound, Texas, and Rohr, a native of Dickinson, N.D., will be roommates in Lawrence, Kan. Though they have been good friends since meeting at NSU about four years ago, attending graduate school together was not part of their plans.
“We never thought we'd be going to the same university after we graduated from Northern,” Brown said. “The really cool thing is that despite KU's impressive campus size, the music building (Murphy Hall) is right next to the law building (Green Hall).”
Rohr said he was planning to apply to the University of Kansas well before Brown considered the university. At a state singing competition a few years ago, a voice teacher recommended Rohr study with respected KU instructor Dr. John Stephens.
“I ended up visiting him and had a very beneficial lesson, and he duly expressed satisfaction in my own abilities,” Rohr said. “So, basically, my heart was swayed.”
At KU, Rohr will also be involved in the opera department and hopes to earn acceptance to the opera apprenticeship program at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City during his second year.
Brown was accepted at several other law schools, including the University of South Dakota; University of St. Thomas; University of California, Los Angeles; and Tulane University. In choosing among those universities, Brown said the KU scholarship was a big draw, but he said the university’s career services sealed the deal. KU has a very active alumni network, and he said he’s confident he will be able to find a job no matter where he decides he wants to go after law school.
Rohr hopes to be a professional singer someday, and has one specific goal he can describe in great detail: “There's this vision I have of myself where I ride up to the Met Opera House in New York atop a ravishing Harley Davidson bike, take off my helmet to expose a crown of flowing locks, snap off my Italian leather jacket and have a passerby ask aloud, ‘Who the heck is that guy?’ To which another will reply, ‘That’s Anthony Rohr, the baddest tenor at the Met.’”
But, magnificent manes and motorcycles aside, Rohr said his plans after grad school will depend on what course life takes him on during his time at KU – “wherever God wants me to be.”
Rohr, who is receiving a music degree from NSU, said he chose Northern because he became aware of the quality of music instruction here.
“Under the incredible tutelage of Mr. Michael Skyles, I have been very blessed. He has taught me more than I could have ever imagined,” Rohr said.
Rohr said it was because of his teaching that he has won numerous competitions, regional recognition and has received heartfelt praise for his performances. This was especially true during Rohr’s most recent opportunity: his highly praised performance as Jean Valjean in NSU Theater’s spring production of “Les Misèrables.”
“Regardless of my personal achievements at Northern, however, I find the most value in the friendships I’ve made over the years, with peers and professors alike,” he said. “Second to that has been the eagerness of practically every teacher here to see me grow and find happiness in my success.”
Brown is graduating In Honoribus with degrees in environmental science and biology and was one of only 25 students from across the country selected to attend the World Affairs Councils of America conference in Washington, D.C., last fall. He said Northern prepared him for his success by helping him realize what he wanted from his future. He went through a lot of different potential career paths before deciding to pursue a career in law.
“I was able to find ways to gain experience and insight into each of these fields to decide if it was right for me,” he said. “I am confident that no matter which path I chose, I could have been successful because Northern gave me opportunities in each. Once I did focus, Northern was right there with all of the resources and tools I needed to succeed.”
Brown said what he values most from his time at NSU was his campus involvement. He said he likes to think he’ll be leaving his mark through his involvement with the Student Association and Honors Program, which both served as support networks and outlets for him.
“The perfect thing about Northern is that everyone can have something,” he said. “For me, it was those organizations. For other people, it's sports, or music, or campus activities, or residence life, or international clubs, or any combination.”
Photos: Brown (top), Rohr