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Think and Do the Extraordinary

Music Students Band Together for Day of Giving

Conductor in PPE with physical-distanced music class.
Day of Giving funds helped the Department of Music secure specialty face coverings and other supplies that kept their students safe while creating music. Photo courtesy of Erin Zanders.

During last year’s rescheduled NC State Day of Giving, the Department of Music took the Pack Twitter-verse by storm as passionate students in the department sought to win bonus funds through social media challenges, including the #GivingPack challenge match.

The department earned 65% of the total hashtag match funds because of students and their online engagement throughout that day in September.

These funds helped make it possible to bring students back to campus for in-person ensemble classes this spring, said Erin Zanders, marketing coordinator for the Department of Music.

“All of the support we’ve received this year has been essential to our ability to adapt to the pandemic and keep our students safe while providing opportunities for them to come together and make music after being remote for so long,” she said. “It takes a lot of money to teach and make music in an entirely new way.”

From specialized face coverings to instrumental bell covers, and from recording equipment and air flow studies, COVID-19’s unforeseen costs are a major expense and every dollar helps. “We were blown away, grateful and, speaking for myself, very emotional that our students, and some parents and alumni, came out in full force to support us on social media — and we are counting on them to do it again,” Zanders said.

Sarah Sisk ’22, an animal science major, and Kayla Bertling ’23, a political science major with minors in international studies, French and leadership, are hoping to win as many challenges as possible for their favorite department and are rallying their classmates for another successful (regularly scheduled) Day of Giving on March 24.

What inspired you to get involved in the hashtag match?

Sarah: I had participated in Day of Giving before, but this year for the marching band, we learned that our budget had been impacted due to COVID-19, and I knew that was going to affect us. I wanted to help the program so that the experiences that we have had would still be able to continue for future students.

Kayla: What inspired me to keep going throughout the day was our GroupMe for the class. It just kept going, and we were all very competitive throughout the day. We were checking in on each other, posting that we were #1 for this tweet and winning that challenge. It kept everyone engaged.

Did Day of Giving help you feel more connected to music department classmates and alumni? How?

Sarah: I felt so connected to the band people on Day of Giving since we had all been in online classes and we only saw the first-years for two weeks of classes. It felt a little more normal to be able to talk to them throughout the day and see their name more in our chats and then online.

Kayla: It was fun to see what people were posting, and the different memories, especially photos. This is only my second year, so I got to see older photos before I started and then also to see photos of things I attended last year.

What did you learn about Day of Giving by participating?

Sarah: I was just really excited, knowing how active we were, to see how much we raised. The challenges are great — competing to win these bonuses makes it more fun.

Kayla: I remember feeling more connected to Day of Giving, because the year before I couldn’t give. But Erin Zanders sent us an email with the subject line “We want your help, not your money.” And so, I was like “OK, I can actually participate.” We saw alumni being able to donate, and then we were able to boost their gifts when we engaged online.

A lot of the money raised last year supported new equipment to help keep in-person teaching COVID-safe. Can you tell me about your classroom experience and how these improvements affected you and your classmates?

Sarah: I am in two in-person band classes, so I use the masks and bell covers. We all sit very far apart from each other now, but I just keep thinking about how we didn’t get to play a single note as a whole group last semester. Everyone was dying to play, and it was heartbreaking to not be able to play a fight song or anything. Now that we have the PPE, it feels great to be able to play together and make music again.

Kayla: I had to drop two of my band classes this semester, because I was nervous about the new strains [of the virus]. But I work in Talley, so I get to hear the band playing. When I first heard them play this semester, I thought “Wow, they are actually getting to safely play, that is so exciting.”

Are you geared up to participate in this year’s Day of Giving on March 24?

Sarah and Kayla: Yes, definitely!

What would you say to others to encourage them to get involved?

Sarah: I would like to utilize the GroupMe again, with all of the band people in there trying to get everyone to post. We used GroupMe in a lot of ways last year: We had classes throughout the day, so people would message that a popup challenge just happened, and everyone had to go tweet a picture of their pet, so I would be able to do that really quick. We had some people remembering what pop-up challenges happened the year before that they might bring back, so we all were preparing to have things ready so we could post as soon as possible since they only last an hour. And we were also trying to go and like each other’s tweets so they were getting popular quickly. We were communicating a lot, and reading the rules constantly. There were people who even started talking at midnight, beginning with the first donor challenge.

Kayla: We are meeting to figure out how to have more presence with our students and throughout the department, and maybe have some competitions between the band and the chorus. The department head, Dr. Monek, really liked that last year, even though we didn’t get a ton of money from the challenges, we received awareness from the university since we had so many tweets. He is hoping we can keep up that presence this year, and show that “Hey, this may be a STEM school, but we still have a great music department.”

Why should people support the Department of Music this Day of Giving?

Sarah: People should give to the music department because we don’t have as many active alumni compared to other colleges. Music and the arts can get overlooked a lot, especially at a STEM campus. I am a science major, but also music is such a huge part of my life. Having a music department and a marching band is part of why I chose NC State in the first place.

Kayla: We don’t have a lot of alumni that directly think they are music department alumni, but we do actually have a lot — we reach out across the campus and anyone from any major can be an alum of ours. We gave them a creative outlet while they were here. That is something we are focusing on this next Day of Giving, and that is why our alumni should donate. We don’t want them to forget that while they were here and had this major in chemistry or another area, they also had this outlet in music. And that creativity was still a part of their college experience. We want them to ensure that continues for other students.

To learn more about NC State Day of Giving and how you can support the Pack, visit

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