KOKOMO, Ind. – For many college seniors, graduation is the icing on the cake. Years of hard work finally pay off, and students celebrate the culmination of an important and memorable part of their lives.
However, Indiana University Kokomo Senior Alicia Dellen will celebrate more than graduation this May. In addition to earning a bachelor's in nursing, she also is releasing a piano solo and duet album with her brother, Matthew.
Dellen, classically trained since she was four years old, has 20 years of playing piano under her belt. Although she hasn't always appreciate her talents, she now realizes how much piano has impacted her life.
"Playing piano teaches you discipline, hard work, and detail," Dellen said. "Releasing this album and seeing how much my brother and I have accomplished through our music is such a blessing."
Dellen studied music under Tamara Orlovsky, a Russian concert pianist, who inspired her to be disciplined in the art of piano. She began playing piano concerts with her older brother when she was 14, and since the pair has traveled to 23 different states to showcase their talents.
"Traveling together as a family, to share something we truly love, is a wonderful experience," Dellen said. "We are very passionate about music ministry and feel very blessed to participate and work in that capacity."
When Dellen was 15 years old, she won a piano competition, which gave her the opportunity to play at Southern Adventist University with the orchestra. Two years later, she was invited to play again and go on a music tour with the orchestra.
She competes in piano competitions at other universities, and since last fall, she has been practicing on the piano in Kresge Auditorium, located on campus, to help prepare.
"When you go to a competition, you don't get to see or touch the piano before you play, so practicing on different pianos will help you for competitions," Dellen said. "You become used to the piano you are always playing, which can hinder a performance on a new piano."
Piano is a huge aspect of her life, but it doesn't stop with competitions and playing with her siblings.
Dellen and her church group host programs at prisons, deliver food, play music, and just get to know people.
"It's amazing to see what such a small gift can do for a person," she said about one of her favorite experiences. "Playing music and helping people is such a great gift to be able to give."
It was her experiences in music ministry that helped lead her toward a career in nursing, but she had a little extra help from her mother, who has been a huge driving force in her life and successes.
"When I was younger, I was always reading mission stories about doctors and nurses who would travel and help people," she said. "It's always something I wanted to do."
At age 13, she had her opportunity when she traveled to El Salvador on a mission trip, and assisted the Maranatha Group in building a church in 10 days.
"It's amazing to go to another country where they don't have a lot, and work to make a difference," she said. "It opens your eyes and truly shows you how the little things matter."
She hopes to travel again, but this time working as a nurse in clinics around the world.
"There's always something you can do to help someone, wherever you are."
Story by Mary Olk. Mary is a senior majoring in communication arts and is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.