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When Ed Karrels ’97, decided to create a scholarship for students, he affectionately wanted to call it the “Don’t Quit Your Night Job” Scholarship to reflect his passion for seeing students continue their musical studies while pursuing other majors at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

“The opportunities for musical growth available at the University are priceless, and it would be a shame for students to miss out on those because they were too busy delivering pizzas,” Karrels said.

Karrels came to UW Oshkosh to study computer science, but he wanted to remain active with music and further hone the skills he had developed in high school.

“College life can be overwhelming, making it really easy to leave your horn in the back of the closet for four years,” Karrels said. “My goal in establishing this scholarship is to encourage promising musicians to continue their musical studies, even when music is not part of their career plan.”

Every semester, Karrels took trombone lessons, and he regularly played in a wide range of instrumental groups, including the University’s Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Trombone Choir as well as student brass quintets. The culmination of his music studies was a senior trombone recital.

Charles Isaacson, professor emeritus of music, remembers the countless hours he and Karrels spent together when Isaacson served as his trombone instructor and during Karrels’s time in Trombone Choir.

“Ed was the quintessential amateur musician. He continually looked for and found intrinsic musical rewards, not degree credits, in a wide variety of experiences at UW Oshkosh,” Isaacson said.

‘Play’ it forward

Karrels’s involvement with music did not end when he left UW Oshkosh. After graduating in 1997, he interned at Argonne National Lab in Chicago, IBM in New York and Silicon Graphics in California, before getting a full-time position at Google. But he always found opportunities to play in local symphony orchestras, pit orchestras, jazz bands and brass quintets.

Music continues to be an important part of his life, and his gift will ensure that it remains a part of others’ lives, as well.

The Ed Karrels Continuing Music Performance Scholarship will provide two students with an annual renewable $6,000 scholarship. Eligible students must be majoring in a discipline other than music, though students with a music minor are eligible. The applicants must be instrumental musicians who audition and are accepted into a department of music ensemble group and also take lessons each semester. First preference will be given to brass performers.

“We are very excited about this unique scholarship, which gives gifted musicians the opportunity to make music as their part-time job to support their studies at UW Oshkosh,” said Carl Chapman, chair of the music department at UW Oshkosh. “Our ensembles and our music majors will benefit from having the dedicated participation of these students throughout their collegiate careers.”

The establishment of the Ed Karrels Continuing Music Performance Scholarship was accomplished through the collaborative efforts of Karrels, the UW Oshkosh music department and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation.

Karrels will return to campus in early September to serve as the keynote speaker for the Odyssey student orientation program. He will talk with 1,800 incoming students about establishing connections and making the most of their UW Oshkosh experience.

Barbara Beuscher, director of development for the College of Letters and Science, submitted this story. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today. Click here to submit.