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Creating his own major led to success, says recent Silver Lake College graduate

Posted On January 05, 2016


One of the first things people notice about Shaughn VanGinkel of Two Rivers is his deep, rich voice.

That voice led the recent Silver Lake College graduate to design his own interdisciplinary major, one that fits with his skill set and is flexible enough for today’s ever-changing job market.

“I went through a lot of majors. I started in Business and Accounting. Then I moved to being a Music Education major because music is such a large part of my life. Then I changed to a General Music major,” said Shaughn, 23.

“By that time I didn’t know what specifically would work for me. A lot of people complimented my speaking voice. They asked if I ever thought of a radio career. That’s where my whole adventure began,” he said.

Shaughn feared he was going to be stuck in a loop until he found out he could design his own major.

“That was something I had never heard of before,” said Shaughn, who decided to focus on Communications Management, which consisted of a mix of business, English, computer, technology and art classes.

He received a lot of support from the College, particularly from Jan Algozine, Director of Experiential Learning, Career Resources and Internships. “I owe her a lot. Jan was literally my golden key to success,” Shaughn said.

“A student-designed interdisciplinary major allows us to take a look at not only the student’s skills, but the career they plan to pursue, researching the latest developments in that profession,” Jan said.

“In Shaughn’s case, I researched the broadcasting industry and found that the biggest change was in technology, so we made sure that he took plenty of technology classes,” she said.

“We look at the curriculum,” Jan said. “We ask, ‘What does this young person need to succeed?’ That’s the beauty of an interdisciplinary student-designed major.”

Algozine also helped Shaughn secure internships, including one at WCUB radio that turned into a job spanning two-and-a-half years and included his own show, “Shaughn’s Midnight Hours.”

“I started working on basic tasks like printing scripts but when they heard me speak, they made use of my voice on the air, doing commercials and giving general announcements,” he said.

For three years of his college experience, Shaughn also helped run the sound and light technology at the College’s Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance.

“While working with the theater, I decided to take that experience I had and asked Jan about the Capitol Civic Centre. I only had four credits left. She said I could work an internship at the Capitol to gain those credits. I more than happily accepted,” Shaughn said.

At the Capitol, he ran lights and sound for everything from choir and band ensembles to shows featuring comedians, musical celebrities and dancers.

“I’m happy to say I officially become a technical crew employee of Capitol Civic Centre right after graduation,” Shaughn said.

His college experience not only helped hone his communication skills, but his leadership skills as well, he said.

“I’ve developed my skills in ways that I never dreamed of when I came here. I’ve learned how to lead by example and work as part of a team,” he said.

His parents, David and Bridget VanGinkel, owners of Two Rivers Clothing Co., also have been supportive of his creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, Shaughn said.

Like his parents, he would someday like to have his own business, this one offering voice and vocal services, commercial work, voice track editing, speech writing and speaking.

“In today’s world, it’s important to be creative in what you do,” he said.