Standard Bearer: John Spankowski

John Spankowski

Undergraduate, B.A. in Music, Instrumental Education option

John Spankowski began his time at Fresno State as a civil engineering major, but he switched to music with a desire to inspire the next generation of students. After getting his teaching credential, he hopes to music in his hometown of Los Banos. Spankowski has impressed his professors with a perfect GPA and a great list of awards and accomplishments as a music major.

“He was initially a civil engineering major but chose to follow his passion of educating the

next generation as a High School teacher. This is a noble intention, and I admire him for it,” said Professor of Music Dr. Benjamin Boone. “Indeed, perhaps this is what makes him so effective – having both the mind for engineering and a mind for creative expression, coupled with a desire to give back.”

Spankowski explained his motivation, saying, “No childhood experience left a more positive impression on me than my time in primary and secondary music classes. Music touches people in ways that no other subject does. It exercises our aesthetic being and explores inexpressible human emotions. I wish to obtain my credential and become an educator who fosters musical curiosity and an appreciation of the arts in my community, impacting future generations in the same ways that I have been impacted through music.”

As a music major at Fresno State, Spankowski has performed with the Fresno State Wind Orchestra, the Symphonic Band as a section leader, Jazz Ensemble, Concert Choir, Trumpet Ensemble and the Bulldog Marching Band. He has composed 24 pieces of music, eight of which have been performed, and completed two research projects, one of which was presented at the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Symposium in 2019.

Dr. Nathan Spankowski said, “I cannot overstate how unique it is to have a student who diligently applies concepts and follows through with the work necessary to make such a large improvement. John not only attends lessons fully prepared but comes in with questions and thoughts based on his work between lessons. Mastering this cycle of conceptual thought, practical application, and self-assessment is vital to make progress on trumpet.”

He also served as president of the Fresno State Chapter of the National Association for Music Education, president of the Fresno State Student Composers’ Guild and a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Humanities.

“Last semester, he helped me organize two full days of ZOOM workshops with Los Angeles film/media composer Bob Allaire, which was a huge success for the 18 students who participated and resulted in all students having a media work for their portfolio. This semester he is helping me plan a similar workshop with another well-known film composer,” Boone said.

Spankowski is a Smittcamp Family Honors College scholar, College of Arts and Humanities Honors scholar and was on the President’s List semester during his time at Fresno State. He has received the President’s Honors Scholarship, Fresno State Marching Band Award, Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada Engineering Scholarship, Richard “Dick” Silberstein Scholarship and the United Contractors Mario Ghilotti Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship Award.

During his time at Fresno State, Spankowski has volunteered for several community organizations and events, including the East Fresno Rotary Charity Foundation Cioppino Dinner, the Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala, Del Mar Elementary School Scholastic Book Fair, Malloch Elementary School Carnival, West African Vocational Schools Banquet, Fresno Greek Festival, Kids Day, Crohn’s and Colitis charity walk and festival, Zoo Boo and the Central Valley Walk to Defeat ALS.

Throughout his time at Fresno State, Spankowski also worked at the Home Depot and was deemed an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With love for his hometown of Los Banos, Spankowski hopes to go beyond teaching and create something significant for his community.

“I desire to establish a deeper artistic presence within the community, reviving community concerts and initiating educational forums.”

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The College of Arts and Humanities Students of Distinction represents the best of their department and will be honored at the Arts in Motion event at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 10 – the culminating event of the Arts in Motion Showcase week. From these students, one undergraduate and one graduate Dean’s Medalist will be selected. The Dean’s Medalists are then eligible to receive the President’s Medal, the university’s highest student honor.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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