Assistant Professor of Trumpet Eric Millard took a little time away from practicing this summer to join the Levine Scholars team-building expedition to Wyoming. The Levine Scholars Program enrolls 20 students annually, and new scholars participate in a pre-college summer outdoor leadership expedition.
Here, Dr. Millard talks about this adventure and how it has reinforced his enthusiasm for teaching.
"This summer I had the privilege of serving as one of the faculty liaisons for the incoming class of Levine Scholars' backpacking expedition in Wyoming organized by the National Outdoor Leadership School. The 24-day expedition through the Wind River Mountain Range had the goal of challenging the incoming scholars with a new experience, while developing a strong sense of community and camaraderie between the students and building strong leadership skills as they prepare to begin their tenure at UNC Charlotte. I chose to serve as a liaison on the trip for two main reasons. First, I love being outdoors and spending time hiking and camping and couldn't turn down an opportunity to spend a few weeks in the mountains of Wyoming. Second, the Levine Scholars program reflects many of the qualities I feel are important in my own trumpet studio. The students all work together as a unit or family for their entire time at UNC Charlotte, and building group dynamics while also spending time getting to know students in a one-on-one setting is one of my favorite aspects of teaching.
"We all travelled together to Lander, Wyoming, where we met with our NOLS instructors and began our day-and-a-half orientation and prep for the trip. Students learned to survive on and thrive with very little (we had to carry everything we brought after all). Students learned skills in the field, like backcountry cooking, how to set up camp, managing different kinds of terrain, fly fishing, navigation, and leadership and group dynamic skills. We had no cell phones or any kind of technology (save for a GPS and emergency locator beacon), which gave all of us such an immersive experience in both our environment and each other. I enjoyed how well the group quickly turned into a family - we celebrated the best moments (like summiting a mountain) and helped each other through the toughest struggles (like enduring a hail storm) and built incredibly strong bonds amongst the group through these experiences.
"There are far too many great memories to pick just one favorite, but one of the best experiences was getting to film our music video at the end of our trip next to Dream Lake. I was so thrilled that the students were all excited to be a part of it and were incredibly enthusiastic about participating in planning and producing and making it very memorable. Having an opportunity to collaborate with the students was so rewarding, and the smiles and laughs in the video are a genuine representation of the energy and passion of our incoming Levine Scholars. In returning, I feel so invigorated and am reminded of how the connections we form as teachers and students are what fuel my own passion to teach and mentor students into successful young adults."