Early influences, scholarships helped Emily Pirtle choose WSU

Daxton Bloomquist, Mickey Armstrong and Emily Pirtle

Armstrong scholars, Daxton Bloomquist (left) and Emily Pirtle (right), met their donor, Mickey Armstrong ’45 (center), for the first time in spring 2010. Pirtle, a WSU junior majoring in piano performance and musical theater, and recipient of multiple scholarships, has been practicing piano in the Duerkesen Fine Arts Center at Wichita State since she was 5 years old.

When Emily Pirtle was 5 years old, her grandmother and first piano teacher, Marilyn Pirtle, took her to the practice rooms at the Duerkesen Fine Arts Center at Wichita State University for her lessons.

“She brought me and her other students here because it was a good place to meet,” said Pirtle, a WSU junior studying piano performance and musical theater.

“My grandmother would also hold our spring recitals here in the concert hall. They were always a big deal and it was from those performances that I was able to build up my confidence to play in front of others.”

For Pirtle, playing the piano has always been an escape. “I have a true connection to the piano,” Pirtle said. “I could always emote through it.”

In high school, Pirtle began taking piano lessons from Andrew Trechak, an associate professor in the WSU School of Music. She has been training with him for seven years.

It was the exposure to WSU at an early age coupled with her experience with Trechak that helped Pirtle decide where she wanted to pursue her dreams.

“Working with Andrew, I could see he was such a talented pianist and teacher,” said Pirtle. “I knew that the other faculty members at WSU would be just as talented and would be able to give me a great learning experience like he has.

“I was asked to audition for a scholarship at WSU, so I did and I received it. I didn’t apply anywhere else,” Pirtle said.

While at WSU, Pirtle has received multiple scholarships, including the Miller Trust Fine Arts Scholarship, the Frances A. Wallingford Piano Scholarship and the Mildred (Mickey) McCoy Armstrong Endowed Excellence in Fine Arts Scholarship.

“Without them, I would have to work a lot more in order to pay for my tuition.”

At a luncheon in spring 2010, Pirtle had the opportunity to meet Mickey Armstrong ’45, one of her donors and, Pirtle learned, also a friend of her grandmother.

“At first, I thought meeting Mickey was going to be intimidating,” Pirtle said, “but sitting with her at lunch, we hit it off really well and talked about musical theatre.

“It was nice to get to know her and see how important this is to her,” Pirtle said. “I appreciate the fact that donors like Mickey are truly interested in students like me and are willing to help and support us.”

If you would like to create a scholarship to provide more opportunities for students, please contact the WSU Foundation at (316) 978-3040.

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