WCSU grad becomes university’s fourth Fulbright scholar
Katherine Marsan said the challenges offered at Western helped prepare her for the opportunity of a lifetime — traveling across the globe to continue her studies in music education — a passion that she plans to turn into a lifelong career

DANBURY, CONN. — If WCSU graduate Katie Marsan could describe her education at Western in a word, it would be “challenging.” Accepted into the honors program, Marsan sailed through her courses with a nearly perfect GPA and is grateful for the opportunities at Western.

Marsan became the fourth WCSU student in the past five years to be named a Fulbright scholar. But the news, received several days before her May 2013 graduation, was bittersweet. Marsan lost her father to a long-time illness just days before graduation and receiving the Fulbright news. She said her next challenge will be hurdled with the support she received from her dad and from Western and said her father would want her to make the most of every opportunity.

As soon as she enrolled, Marsan said she had heard about the Fulbright program and the fact that Western students were being honored with them. “I’ve been hearing about the Fulbright program since I was a freshman — and I thought it was kind of a reach.”

While at Western, Marsan also served as president and vice president of the Newman Club; treasurer, vice president and co-creator of the Chamber Music Club; and volunteer at the Salvation Army in Danbury. She was also a member of the Newman Club Music Ministry, Honors Student Organization and WCSU Opera Ensemble, to name a few. In addition to being awarded the Merit Scholarship, she was nominated for the National Society of College Scholars.

She also was able to experience life in another country and help others by taking part in three week-long mission trips to Jamaica sponsored by the WCSU Newman Club. There, Maran tutored children and taught in the schools. She also visited with the sick and abandoned elderly.

Marsan said it was the individual attention, small classes and the honors program that helped her make the most of her four years at Western, a journey that culminated with a degree in music education with honors. This fall, the Western graduate will head to the University of Tartu in Estonia for nine months, during which time she will take fiddle lessons and study education and the folk music of the European nation.

“This experience will enable me to expose my future students to another culture and form of music,” said Marsan, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in music to become a teacher. She said that during the Russian Revolution and the years that ensued, Estonians sang to connect and keep spirits high, points that attracted Marsan to the country and its music.

“The folk music of Estonia is known for its choral music. They have lots of festivals. Music is a good way for people to connect. We have different lifestyles, but we’re not all that different,” she said.

When looking at college options, Marsan's father encouraged her to investigate Western, and she was impressed. "The music department was extremely welcoming and I felt that I could fit in here," she says. "When I met with the violin professor, I felt like he had already taken a personal interest in me and would do whatever it would take to help me succeed. Making the decision about where to go to college is not an easy one, but I definitely feel like I made the right choice."

The Honors Program, headed by Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk, “opens you up to all these different opportunities and pushes you to go out of your comfort zone. You realize you can do more than you thought you could,” she said.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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