Alumnus returns to pursue interest, talent in music

Trumpet performance major junior Sam Dole is pursuing a second  undergraduate degree at Geneseo. Dole began his career at Geneseo nine years ago and pursued economics, but decided to now follow his passion for music. (Izzy Graziano/Knights’ life editor)

Trumpet performance major junior Sam Dole is back at Geneseo for the second time and could not be more thrilled about it. Dole is on the music education track and is set to earn his Bachelor of Arts in trumpet performance—but this is not the first degree he will have earned at Geneseo. 

Dole began his career at this college nine years ago, majoring in economics. 

“I chose economics because I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I knew that it was a degree that would produce a lucrative career and could be finished in the next two years, because I was undeclared for my freshman and sophomore year,” he said. “It was very logical and planned—what major sounds interesting enough that I won’t die and would result in an outcome at the time that I defined as successful.”

After graduating from Geneseo, Dole worked as an operational risk analyst at a Credit Suisse Bank. After two years, however, Dole realized that he was not happy there, and wanted to pursue music—a lifelong passion of his. 

“When I was here the first time around, I did a lot more practicing and going to rehearsals than I did studying for my business exams,” Dole said. “So, it only made sense to go do the thing that I always told myself wasn’t a good enough option … After seeing how un-worth it the ‘white picket fence, go to business school, then get a job at a bank and live your life’ option was, I decided to change things up and pursue the arts.”

During his first time at Geneseo, Dole had been involved in many of the musical groups on-campus, including orchestra, a cappella, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble and pep band. Dole is still doing all of these things, except for a cappella. 

Dole was not always planning on returning to Geneseo to study music. Instead, he wanted to look for a private instructor and then audition at other schools to earn a performance degree. His parents were the ones who pushed him to go back to Geneseo.

“We happened to Google the readmission deadline for Geneseo, and it was that week,” he said. “I filled out an application, and I heard from ... the music department that week and flew up a week later to audition.”

Now that Dole is back, he is pursuing the new music education track, which works very closely with the Eastman School of Music and Nazareth’s music department. In addition to his classical training on the trumpet, Dole is also learning piano, oboe and percussion. 

“I’m doing the most work I’ve ever done, but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade anything for it right now.” 

Since his first undergraduate experience, Dole has changed his definition of success. 

“What I think should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when graduating is happiness first, then making sure that I can maintain that happiness through things like finance, mental health, all those things,” Dole said. “Success for me is being happy and being able to maintain that happiness responsibly.”

Based on his experience, Dole would encourage students to pursue their dreams, but keep reality in mind. 

“What do you want your life to look like, separating your joy from your responsibilities? If they tell me they want them to be the same thing, I would tell them it can be the same thing,” he said. “Don’t let these preconceived notions of what you should do, or what responsibility is, or what success looks like tell you that they need to separate things in some way.”