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It Starts at State

James Shamblin, Class of 2017

James Shamblin's career with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra started when he interned with the organization while earning his degree in music education at STATE. The accomplished musician and WVSU Class of 2017 graduate is now blending his passion for arts education with his knack for administration as the Symphony's annual fund and operations associate, managing fundraising efforts and organizing logistics. Essentially, his job is, as he says, "to do all things necessary to get the orchestra to the stage."

It is a career path that, while still in its early stages, has been virtually a lifetime in the making.

"Growing up, I always knew I wanted to teach," he says. "My life was always surrounded by music, as my father sang in a southern gospel quartet. My high school choir director cemented it for me that I wanted to teach. I wanted to inspire my future students the same way that music had inspired me. However, about halfway through my degree, I found that although I loved the time in the classroom making music with my students, it wasn't the best fit for me. Something inside me just said, this isn't the right fit."

While he completed the student teaching requirements that accompany his education degree, it was a combination of his role as student worker in the office of the dean of WVSU's College of Arts and Humanities and the internship with the Symphony that first sparked James' shift toward an administrative role.

"It was because of the partnership between the Symphony and STATE, and the internship that is available, that through it I discovered arts administration and really found it to be my perfect fit and my passion," he says, noting that his love of education is still very much alive. "From time to time, I will cover a class for our string educators in the public school system. It is really rewarding because it gives me a chance to put my degree to direct use."

James is quick to credit the experiences available at STATE for helping him find his path, and it's a message he's all too happy to share with the young people with whom he interacts.

"I tell students to chase their dreams, whatever they may be. Find what makes you happy and run with it. I feel there are more important things than corporate success or building wealth. I'd rather be doing what I love than working in a field I hate, just to get a paycheck. I try to instill that in the young people that I interact with."

James recently began returning to the STATE campus as general manager of the Charleston Chamber Orchestra, the University's orchestra.
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