While some students find classes stressful enough on their own, this year’s Mr. Greek, sophomore Joshua Richardson, keeps busy on and off campus.
“Come on, I don’t have a life,” Richardson said. “I usually get up early for my classes and I have a lot of them (music majors have many one-credit classes), so I’m usually in class for my mornings.
For my afternoons, I’m in class, rehearsal, at work or practicing. At night, I usually have some Greek-related event or, if not, I’m practicing some more or taking a break. I have a break about every thousand years.”
Richardson’s responsibilities might make the average student cringe. He balances his class schedule with the activities of the Music Therapy Student Association (MTSA), playing trombone for EMU’s Wind Symphony, working as event coordinator for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC) and is a New Member Educator for his fraternity, Sigma Nu.
“I feel stressed with my responsibilities,” Richardson said. “I’m doing a lot, and I need to learn to not stretch myself to thin, but I think I’ve managed pretty well so far. I was a New Member Educator for Sigma Nu this semester, which is a big position and takes a lot of work because you’re educating new people coming into Greek Life. It’s a hard position so next semester I’m stepping down a little to become philanthropy chair so I’m not going crazy. I’ll be busy with all the music-related activities I have coming up.”
Such music-related priorities vary from the classroom to extracurricular. With its focus on music therapy, MTSA gives Richardson plenty of experience in his field of study.
“As a member of the MTSA, we do a lot of pre-internship work,” Richardson said. “We’ll go to a hospice or an in-patient facility for people with dementia or we’ll go to the Autism Collaborative Center on campus and do music therapy-related activities and gain experience in the field. I want to work with children with autism, which is a growing field for music therapists, and teach social skills and improve the quality of life for children with autism.”
Richardson knew he wanted to share his love of music with others but it took some research to figure out just how.
“When you’re interested in music in high school, you’re looking at entering college either in music performance or music education and neither one seemed really right for me,” Richardson said. “I couldn’t see myself being a band director or choir teacher in a practice room a thousand hours a day. I knew I wanted to do music because that was the thing I was really good at, but neither of those options seemed right. I discovered music therapy just by looking through college websites and I researched it some more to find it was something I was very interested in.”
Music therapy isn’t the only way Richardson wants to help others. Through his position as EMU’s LGBTRC event coordinator, he feels he is making a visible difference in the campus community.
“It’s something that I’m invested in and it’s a little more fulfilling than previous jobs I’ve had,” Richardson said. “It’s very fulfilling to see what I’m doing on campus is having an effect.”
As the event coordinator for the LGBTRC, Richardson was in charge of this year’s Rainbow Variety Show, a showcase of talent from EMU’s LGBT students, staff and faculty. The show was a success, but events of such scope aren’t stress-free.
“That’s always been, from my understanding, a really stressful event to plan, but I had a lot of fun with it,” Richardson said. “A week or so before the Rainbow Variety Show, Mary Larkin came up to me and looked me straight in the face and said ‘something always goes wrong with the Rainbow Variety Show’ and I laughed it off, saying, ‘You’re funny,’ but she kept staring at me. It was one of those realizations that something’s going to go wrong. I was tense that night, but the show went off without a hitch. It was almost a full house and the It Gets Better campaign video premiered that night, it was such a huge hit and was powerful too.”
Richardson has proven himself to be heavily involved across campus, but it was through his fraternity where he thinks he has found the most growth and opportunity.
“I’m one of the people who joined my fraternity for the wrong reasons but stayed for the right ones,” Richardson said. “Initially I wasn’t interested in much more than a network for partying, but Sigma Nu has really taught me a lot about how to live my values.
It’s been a good experience of personal growth for me because when I came into college I was very immature, and partying was pretty much the only aspect of Greek Life I was excited about. But through it I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities on campus, and it’s allowed me to experience a lot of personal growth.”
One of the things he specifically enjoys about EMU’s Greek Life is it’s commitment to values as a source of support.
“The thing I really like about our Greek system at EMU in particular is that it’s so unique,” Richardson said. “I was originally interested in was partying, and at other schools that is all I would’ve found. Our system is really values-based and I think a lot of Greek men and women live their values everyday and it’s really cool to see like-minded people. It’s a support system I never thought I would have at college so I’m really fortunate to be in Greek Life.”
From work to his extracurricular activities, Richardson acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for the opportunities EMU has provided him.