UAPB Music Grad Accepts Disney College Program Opportunity

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Laura Case found the magic in her hometown and the freedom to be her true, authentic self at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). With a 3.404 GPA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from UAPB in May 2024. Beginning in August 2024, Case will experience the Disney magic by attending the Disney College Program, a United States national internship program operated by the Disney Programs division of The Walt Disney Company, located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and formerly at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Laura Case ’24, UAPB Music Education Major, to attend the Disney College Program in Orlando.
Case says the internship “gets your foot in the door to do other things with Disney,” including working in animation or business. She has always dreamed of working as a music producer or choosing music scores for a Disney film. She felt that pursuing this opportunity would get her outside the bubble. “I’m going to take a chance,” Case said.

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Since she first stepped foot on UAPB’s campus in 2020, she has received immediate support from faculty and staff. Case says the time that she spent at UAPB felt like home, a place where she was always meant to be. “I know that in high school, I struggled a lot with accepting myself as myself…feeling like I wasn’t maybe good enough or that what I did was never enough,” Case revealed. “I feel like if I hadn’t attended UAPB, I probably would still be second-guessing myself in everything that I do.”

Case praised UAPB Staff Member Mitzy Allen in the School of Business Learning Lab. “Her office has been a blessing on campus,” she said. She explained that Allen’s office provided a quiet place for her to study. She added that Allen would let people know that she was studying and to keep the office quiet during that timeframe. Case’s mother, Gayla Case, attended UAPB in 2008 and suggested that her daughter consider doing the same.

“My mother encouraged me to join the UAPB Vesper Choir,” the Pine Bluff native said. She auditioned and was accepted, which she viewed as a sign. Gayla Case was very familiar with the choir’s local and international accomplishments and felt the proximity of UAPB would provide an ideal training ground for her daughter to flourish.

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Once in the Vesper Choir, under the direction of Jerron Liddell, UAPB Vesper Choir Director, Case further enhanced her vocal and instrumental musical talents, and fellow choir members became like family. “I recently had my senior recital, and I had never felt accomplished until that moment,” says Laura Case, who served as both the choir’s student director and secretary. Her choir duties included directing warmups and music selections and helping choir members read music. “I just love being able to be the person to encourage the choir to sing out…to support the choir,” says Laura Case, who inherited the nickname of “Lolo” as a member of the Vesper Choir.

In Spring 2023, she joined Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. “It’s really a great organization to help grow your love of music. That’s the reason I joined; it wasn’t just an organization for music majors or people who were in the band or choir. It’s an organization for people who just enjoy music in general,” says Laura Case.

The Vesper Choir allowed Case to travel to numerous cities and states she had never been to, including Houston, TX; Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; and Virginia. She marveled at her experience in downtown Atlanta and specifically mentioned seeing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home. She also described Dr. King’s monument and the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., as “amazing” and “so beautiful.”

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Laura Case is a music teacher at Southwood Elementary School in Pine Bluff. Before this, she did student fieldwork that included co-teaching music alongside her mother at James Matthews Elementary School in Pine Bluff. When she began teaching at Southwood Elementary School, her goal was to get to know the students and what they like about music.
“I started out trying to get them to sing, especially my sixth graders. They didn’t seem like they really enjoyed the singing aspect, but they really enjoyed playing (instruments),” Laura Case said.

She introduced them to snare drums and later ordered various percussive rhythm instruments, such as triangles, for her kindergarten and first-grade students. “I found out that many of the students needed somebody to help them open up. That’s what I’ve been doing with many of my older kids, trying to find out what they like,” Case said.

Coming from a musical family, Case not only sings soprano but also plays a variety of instruments. “I started out on trumpet in sixth grade,” Case said. “I inherited a couple of trumpets from my grandfather when he passed away, and I inherited two clarinets from my grandmother, so I’ve been off and on playing those here and there… I’ve always loved playing the trumpet,” she said. Case has a mandolin, which she also inherited from her grandfather. She describes her family as being very “musically inclined,” with a grandmother playing the piano, flute, and “all kinds of different instruments.”

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“Then, when I got braces, it was kind of hard for me to play the trumpet to get up to high notes, so I switched to baritone. And then my ninth-grade year, out of the blue, they were like, ‘We need a tuba player.’ They chose me out of everybody to play tuba because I was the only one who could read the music.” She continued to play the tuba until she entered college.

With UAPB’s graduation on her latest list of accomplishments, she reflects on the support system created by the professors and the atmosphere on campus that laid a foundation for her success. She mentions UAPB as being a part of her future. “When I come back to UAPB, I’m confident that I will be welcomed with open arms and with as much encouragement as I had the first time I stepped on campus,” Laura Case says.