PMO Student Spotlight: Karen You

Meet Karen You, a sophomore from Beijing, China, studying Computer Science and ringing with the Purdue Bells. Karen is just one of the many PMO students who dedicate their time and talents to serve as ambassadors of song for Purdue University.

Chamber Choir at Commissioning of the USS Indiana

On September 29th, the Indiana (the newest Virginia-Class submarine) was commissioned and entered the US Navy as a United States Ship. A group of six singers from University Choir were selected to perform the national anthem for this ceremony, and I was fortunate to be chosen as one of those singers.

This was an amazing opportunity which allowed us to perform at the commissioning and the gala the night before, get a tour of the submarine, and fly in to NASA’s shuttle landing facility. As an aerospace engineer, I especially enjoyed seeing the Kennedy space center from the air and seeing a shuttle orbiter on the side of the runway. At the events, we performed the Star Spangled Banner, The Navy Hymn, Back Home Again in Indiana, and a medley of other Indiana songs. The commissioning ceremony is available for viewing on

Being able to perform at an event like this shows the professionalism and capability of PMO and I thank the PMO staff and the culture they create in PMO for preparing us for this. As a senior, I can’t think of a better way to end my time here than with a performance like this. I also send thanks to the commissioning committee for inviting us and arranging all the details, and especially to Jake Stensberg, our director, and the other singers for making this an unforgettable trip.

Yours in Song,

William Marrujo, Senior

Chanhassen, MN

Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering


University Choir Fall Break Tour of Indianapolis

Joy (Noun): “Happiness over an unanticipated or present good”

As this semester closes to mid-term, University Choir has had a theme throughout rehearsals and our very first tour to Greenwood, Indiana: joy. I can assure that everyone on this Fall Break tour had a joyous time! On Sunday morning, University Choir, Heart & Soul, and the Purdue Bells performed during the Grace United Methodist Church worship services and later performed a full performance that evening. On our final day, we all went to Greenwood Community High School to perform three concerts.

Personally, I will always remember singing Indodana, a South African piece filled with weeping over the crucifixion of Christ. I felt the weight of those words through the intense lines and expressions of others around me each time University Choir sang. As I tried not to tighten my throat and watch our director, Jeff Vallier, with foggy vision I knew I had become captured by the song. Standing dumbfounded in my place, I was not even sure if I could sing our next piece.

Additionally, I could not be more thankful for all the friendly people within University Choir. As a transfer student coming in as a junior, I felt incredibly nervous about making friends at a new university. This tour reminded me how wonderful a group of singers could truly be, and I can write with great certainty many people—and the music—has increased my personal joy immensely! As defined above, it has certainly brought me a happiness that was unanticipated, especially as I remember laughing with such fun choir members. Thank you to all who made this tour possible and to those who attended our performances; you all made this experience memorable!

If you are interested in experiencing joy with Purdue Musical Organizations, feel free to attend our Fall Show on Sunday, November 4th at 2 p.m. Also, tickets for the Purdue Christmas are on sale now! So, if you are interested in experiencing the full joy of Christmas and PMO, please join us in this experience on December 1st or 2nd!

Yours in Song,

Abby Fisher, Junior

Frankfort, IN

Hospitality and Tourism Management

Public Relations Committee

Heart & Soul Fall Break Tour of Indianapolis

During Fall Break, we took a trip down to Indianapolis with the University Choir and the Purdue Bells. This was my first overnight trip with Heart & Soul, so I was very excited. While there, we sang at Hope United Methodist Church and Greenwood Community High School. The first morning, we got to be part of Hope’s worship services. As the gospel choir, we love getting to worship with others! That afternoon, we had a big concert for the people in the community. I loved getting to hear the other choirs perform and bring joy to people in the area!

The next day, we gave two mini-concerts for the students in the music program at Greenwood Community High School in the morning. I thought this was awesome because it showed high school students that there are opportunities to keep singing in college. That evening, we held a concert at the school for all students and community members. The crowd was awesome, and I loved sharing how amazing PMO is. I can’t wait to take another trip with Heart & Soul and the other choirs!

If you haven’t yet, get your tickets for the Purdue Christmas Show and see all of us put on a show you will never forget!

Yours in Song,

Liz Wakelin, Sophomore

Springfield, IL

Biomedical Engineering

Purdue Varsity Glee Club Spring Break Tour of Southwest Florida

This year for spring break I had the opportunity to travel with the Glee Club to Southwest Florida and perform for Purdue alumni, supporters of PMO, and local audiences.  It was a busy week filled with six concerts in just five days, but the audiences were so appreciative that it made it all worth it.

My favorite audience, and overall favorite experience this spring break was having the opportunity to sing for Bob Netherton, the oldest living Glee Club alumnus, at his assisted living community in Naples.  Bill Griffel, the director of Purdue Musical Organizations and the Glee Club, reminded Bob and all of us that we all share an unforgettable brotherhood and that “once a Glee Clubber, always a Glee Clubber.” 

After being back for just a couple of days, I am eager for what the rest of this semester holds and can’t wait for opportunities we will have in the future!

Yours in Song,

Zach Bucher, Sophomore

Bluffton, IN

General Management and Accounting

Purdue Bells Spring Break Tour of Chicago

Spending spring break with my Purdue Bells family was the best part of my break! Since I am student teaching this semester, I don’t get to see my choir family often. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to perform and spend time with my friends over break.  

One of my favorite parts of the trip was spending time with our incredible homestays (local members of Trinity Lutheran Church who volunteered to host each member of the Bells for a night). We are very thankful for their generosity to take us in their home. I was especially lucky to be able to stay with one of our own members, Sara’s family, together with three other students. Our sleepover consisted of playing ping pong, lots of laughter, and girl talk. Moments like this really make my heart happy, and I know these will be the memories that I’ll always remember after I graduate.

After our show on Sunday, I met one of the PMO Club members, Mrs. Lorenz. She told me about her time at Purdue, and how both of her children were PMO alumni. I thanked her for all that she and her family did and continue to do for us and I also told her how grateful we are for our beautiful building, Bailey Hall. It was a very special moment for me. Speaking with her really made me realize the greater impact of the PMO family. It is our members, our alumni, our history, our story, and our legacy that makes PMO so unique and irreplaceable. 

As a senior, I couldn’t help but feel sad at the end of our trip. However, I’m determined to make the most out of the time I have left this semester. Bring on Spring Show! 

Yours in Song, 

Alexis Zhang, Senior 

Elementary Education

Bronze Leader of Digital Media,

Public Relations, and Social

Purduettes Spring Break Tour of Cincinnati

 For the second half of our Spring Break, the Purduettes were given the opportunity to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to collaborate with the Cincinnati Sound Chorus, a group that our good friend and PMO alumna, Marcy Ziek, belongs to. It was exciting not only to travel to a new city, but also to collaborate with such kind and talented women who still carry a passion for music in their adult lives.

One of my favorite moments of the trip was during our first rehearsal with the women of the Cincinnati Sound Chorus because they were just as excited to sing with us as we were to sing with them. The environment was one of positivity and encouragement, which allowed for friendships to bloom. Although our rehearsal was focused on productivity, we were also able to just laugh and enjoy each others’ company.

On Saturday evening, when we debuted our collaborative song “Sister Act,” I couldn’t help but have tears in my eyes as I sang with all of the women on stage. During the song, a member of the Cincinnati Sound Chorus grabbed my hand as we sang “in my sister’s eyes, I recognize the star I want to be” and I was overwhelmed with gratitude and hope. I was reminded that not only have I been blessed to be surrounded by talented and uplifting women daily in the Purduettes, but I am also able to connect with other amazing women that I may not have met before through the opportunities that PMO provides. The women of the Cincinnati Sound inspired me to continue to pursue my passion of music in my adult life and to surround myself with others who will do the same.

Yours in Song,

Maddie Shafer, Sophomore

Elkhart, IN

Special Education and Elementary Education


Heart & Soul Overnighter

After what turned out to be a long week of exams and papers for many of us in Heart & Soul, we were excited to dive into a night of laughter, singing, games, and delicious food during Overnighter, an event hosted every fall by our wonderful director, Rhonda Blacklock.

This year it was a bit too chilly to sing outside after dinner, so we all gathered around the piano in the living room as we dove into some of our pieces for the upcoming Fall Show and explored new territory in our Christmas Show pieces. The acoustics made us sound like we were hundreds of voices strong, and the power and energy in the room was tangible. One of Rhonda’s adorable dogs even decided to get in on the fun by joining her on the piano bench.

After rehearsal, we all split into groups where stories were shared and games were learned, won, and lost. Later on we crowded around the TV and watched last year’s Christmas Show. As this is my third year participating in PMO, the Christmas Show isn’t exactly new to me, but it was really awesome watching the new members get excited about the performance. A lot of rehearsing goes into this show, and it is great to see the final product! We also watched recordings of past performances at the Opera House in Delphi and our Fall/Spring Shows. Eventually some of us tried to get some sleep, while others stayed up the entire night watching movies until breakfast was served in the morning.

It’s always a pleasure to spend an evening with so many fun-loving and talented people. We are all truly grateful that Rhonda opens her home to us for a night of fun and music every year.

Yours in Song,

Sara Penka, Junior

Microbiology Pre-Vet

Advancement Leader


Purdue Bells Brouhaha

Brouhaha is an annual sleepover at our director, Rhonda’s house, where members of Purdue Bells indulge in an evening of bells, food, and games. As a new member this year, I did not know what to expect but I could feel excitement building as the bus drove through the cornfields.

Upon arrival, we had dinner together and set up our tables and bells on the driveway. The sun was just going down, coating a layer of gentle gold on the edge of the bells. The soothing sound of bells sounded in the quiet neighborhood as we started rehearsing through our repertoire. Some of the neighbors stopped by, rocking to the rhythm and clapping for us. Even a dragonfly was enthralled by our ringing — it kept hovering above us and did not want to leave!

As darkness fell, we went back inside and watched last year’s Christmas Show. I was so amazed by all the groups that I could not wait to be part of this spectacular show! Meanwhile, I was reminded of the hard work required for the success of the show. Looking around at my fellow ringers, I was determined to overcome all the challenges ahead. After watching the video, our new family tree (big brother/big sister pairings) was revealed and we played some bonding games until the next day.

I had a wonderful time at Brouhaha and I am really grateful for the inclusive environment that PMO created for me to grow both musically and personally. I look forward to the many rehearsals yet to come!

Yours in Song,

Karen You, Freshman

Computer Science

Purdue Varsity Glee Club International Tour of Poland and the Baltics

During my time at Purdue I have taken advantage of countless opportunities that this school has to offer, but none can compare to my time spent with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club! Since my freshman year, I have experienced the most unforgettable moments and met the most incredible people thanks to Purdue Musical Organizations. As I reflect on my three years here, I realize how lucky I am to be part of two different Glee Club international tours, the Glee Club’s 125th Anniversary and now Purdue’s 150th Anniversary!

Before I came to Purdue, I never really traveled outside of the Midwest and certainly not abroad. I was used to the bustling suburbs of Chicago but hungered to see what else the world had to offer. While I knew I wanted to travel, I had no plan to make these dreams come true. All I knew was I loved to sing and I wanted to be an engineer. Little did I know, less than a year after arriving on campus I would be roaming the streets of Eastern European cities with 60 of my closest friends. Looking back, I am still in disbelief how much my life has changed in such a short time. My tour of Poland and the Baltics with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club was truly life changing! We saw stunning historical cities, shared food and drink with complete strangers from across the globe, and joined in song with people of different cultures. In just two weeks, I learned the value of seeking out new people, being outside my comfort zone, and understanding different perspectives. It was the farthest I had ever traveled and the most I had ever grown as a person.

Even after that incredible tour, the opportunities from Purdue Musical Organizations have continued to benefit me. Throughout my time in Glee Club, my professional network has exploded as I am continuously introduced to a seemingly endless group of alumni and supporters that share my passion of music and performance. I have been able to touch countless lives with my gift of song, performing any where and everywhere. From inspiring audiences at momentous celebrations, to memorializing our most beloved friends, I have seen the power music has to change lives. All of these experiences have reinforced my confidence that I chose the right school. I do not know what else is in store for me as I finish my time at Purdue, but I am sure it will be unforgettable. Boiler Up!

Yours in Song,

Dante Bruno, Junior

Elmwood Park, IL

Industrial Engineering

Sir of Advancement